Are Truvia and Stevia the same thing?
Thanks to a false-advertising job well-done, many health conscious consumers have been tricked into believing that Truvia is the same thing as Stevia. The (disappointing) truth is that, despite the fact that Truvia is marketed as a "stevia-based sugar substitute," it is NOT equivalent to Stevia. Not even close, actually. Get this: the ingredient list for Truvia is as follows: Erythritol, Rebiana and Natural Flavors. Just three ingredients and Stevia isn't even one of them! That right there should tell us something (for starters, not to trust the product manufacturer...which by the way is Coca-Cola teamed up with a company called Cargill…)
Let’s take a look at those three ingredients that make up Truvia:
1. Erythritol: A sugar alcohol which is made by processing genetically modified corn; this is the primary ingredient in Truvia. Sugar alcohols are notoriously known for their unpleasant side effects. Our bodies do a poor job at digesting sugar alcohols (which is why they are lower in calories), but because they aren't completely digested, they hang out in our intestines where they are fermented by colonic bacteria. The by-products of fermentation include gastric distress, diarrhea, cramping, gas and bloating. Yuck. That’s ingredient #1.
2. Rebiana: Half of one percent of Truvia is Rebiana. The truth is that the only reason Truvia can mention anything about Stevia is because Rebiana is derived from a Stevia plant. But again, don’t be fooled. Rebiana is certainly not the same thing as Stevia. It is a molecule of the stevia plant. Furthermore, Rebiana is actually 400 times sweeter than sugar, but you’ll notice that Truvia is only twice as sweet as sugar. If you do the math, you’ll see that if a container of Truvia was divided into 200 parts, 199 of them would be Erythritol and only one would be Rebiana (which, again, isn’t even Stevia, but a mere molecule of the Stevia plant). In conclusion, Truvia is mostly Erythritol with a touch of a molecule of Stevia. Ingredient #2.
3. Natural Flavors. What does that mean? That's a good question, and your guess is as good as mine. As you may already know, the term "natural" is not FDA-regulated, therefore there are no standards when using this word. Maybe this is why you'll find the word "natural" all over the packaging and promotion of Truvia—on their products, website and advertising campaigns. This is a perfect example of how the term “natural” is used to deceive consumers, as nothing about Truvia is natural. The makers of Truvia are incredibly good at stretching the truth, along with other types of marketing deception such as using pictures of leaves and the color green on Truvia's packaging and website, making it look “natural” and oh-so-similar to Stevia. It's no wonder that when most people learn that Truvia and Stevia are two dreadfully different products they feel as if a bomb was dropped.
So, there you have it: the truth is that Truvia is a true sugar alcohol. Truvia is 99.9%pure genetically modified erythritol and less than a half percent of something made from Stevia—just so they can lie to you. If you dare, experiment at home and you'll find that this highly processed sweetener doesn't even taste like Stevia. Such a shame.
Now to address a few other misunderstandings:
- Sure, Truvia doesn’t have any calories (alike other artificial sweeteners), but that argument doesn’t hold up because it's not all about calories anyway. New research is showing that because your body can't figure out how to metabolize these sweeteners (which is the very reason they contain no calories), they are likely interfering with your metabolism and causing weight gain. This explains the phenomenon of people making a complete switch from sugary foods and beverages to artificially sweetened ones, yet not losing a single pound. So, please set aside the calorie argument when you are deciding which sweetener to use. More of my thoughts on why I hate calories here.
- Yes, I do realize I’m telling you not to use Truvia, even though the Food and Drug Administration deems it to be “safe,” but I wouldn’t put my health in the FDA’s hands. They recognize other artificial sweeteners as safe too, but none have been around long enough to see long-term effects. With many, we are already seeing abundant cases of adverse effects in the short term including migraine headaches, weight gain, gastric distress, diarrhea and vertigo.
- While I'm touching on Truvia, I might as well touch on a few other sugar substitutes that have recently appeared. PureVia is Truvia’s archenemy, made by Pepsi Co. of course, and you can guess I’d skip that one too. Nectresse is brought to you by your favorite makers of the chemically-laden Splenda (read my opinion on Splenda, here). You’ll never guess Necresse's main ingredient: the same one as Truvia, the lovely (sarcasm alert!) Erythritol. And as a side note, in addition to Erythritol, the other common sugar alcohols include maltitol, sorbitol, isomalt and xylitol. Just keep it simple and avoid them all.
Then what should you use?
Your best bet is to use real sugar, pure Stevia (ingredients are as follows: Stevia), pure Stevia drops or my absolute favorite: Dynamic Fruits & Greens (a whole foods powder, sweetened with Stevia). There’s virtually no health advantage to using honey, maple syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar or agave nectar. They are all metabolized as sugar and are isocaloric with the exception of agave necatar, which is 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar, and also contains 1 ½ times the calories as sugar (so you’d better be using less of it than if you were using sugar!). Sugar, Stevia and Dynamic Fruits & Greens are the only sweeteners I will use in my coffee or food.
In summary, because of the recent awareness that sugar is harmful to our bodies (which really shouldn't be a surprise), there will continue to be more and more of these "miracle products" appearing. Everyone wants a "quick fix," so naturally (pun intended), these products will look, sound (and maybe even taste) promising. Don't be fooled. Play detective by reading your labels, and, when in doubt, don't put it in your body. Stick with less of the "fake stuff" and more of the “real stuff.” For a roadmap on playing detective, grab my bestselling book.
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