Friday, December 23, 2011

Know What You're Eating: Stevia

I admit, the catchy tune had something to do with it - those commercials for "all natural" stevia sweeteners featuring frustrated women and a jingle many of us can relate to. And I was pretty happy. I've often wondered why there are some many artificial sweeteners out there (especially in supposedly health items - Airborne anyone?) when there's stevia. Then I read the label. Here are two popular stevia products and what they contain:


Truvia, you are no true love

The first ingredient in Truvia is erythritol, a man-made sugar alcohol. It also contains natural flavors. Natural flavors of what? While stevia is indeed all-natural, Truvia is not. So much for "honestly sweet".

I expected better from In The Raw

The same folks who helped make raw sugar so ubiquitous you can even find it at the Walmart have also doctored up their stevia product. Note the first ingredient is dextrose, which is another name for glucose. This is important for diabetics turning to stevia products. While the Truvia is clearly labels "suitable for diabetics", Stevia in the Raw is not. Further proof that you must-must-must read those labels.

So why add sugar and other sweeteners to something that is naturally sweet? You got me. Hopefully these less-than-truthful products are the starting point for greater availability of stevia and we will start to see real stevia in our grocery stores. Until then, if you're interested in using stevia, looks like you'll still have to visit the health food store or food co-op for the real thing.

1 comment:

  1. I've used both pure stevia extract- which is white- as well as stevia leaf powder (green). Both preparations have a distinctly-bitter finish. While I managed to acquire a taste for pure stevia over time, I was not able to convince any of the happenstance samplers around me of stevia's virtues!

    So, I would imagine that the stevia blends exist solely to diminish that inherent bitterness.

    Personally, I have been making use of xylitol- a sugar alcohol like erythritol which is diabetic-friendly- for sweetening coffee and in baking and have been quite pleased with it!