Hope you are having an awesome start to your Labor Day Weekend! Enjoy the family festivities and be safe whether you are at the Lake, in the mountains or anywhere in between. After last week’s post on “Is Being Sugar-Free Good For You?” We had a great question come in about stevia-based products an whether or not they were safe to consume. We will do our best to simplify the topic as it’s not a straight yes or no answer.
Stevia is a plant with it’s leaves being used as a sweetener for centuries in countries like Paraguay and Brazil. If the stevia you are using is pure whole leaf stevia (which would be green in color) the answer to the question “is stevia safe to use” the answer would be yes.
However the question was about the safety of “stevia-based” products. First of all it depends on the other ingredients. There are a lot of products on the market that say “made with stevia” and then contain other ingredients like crystalline fructose or artificial flavorings. So that answer would be “no” on the safety of stevia-based products.
What about Truvia and PureVia?
Truvia is a product manufactured by Cargill and was co-developed by Coca-Cola. It is not whole-leaf stevia. It is actually a manufactured product using a patented process (not disclosed) but most likely similar to Pepsi-Cola’s version PureVia. PureVia, a competitor to Truvia created by PepsiCo, also extracts an ingredient from the stevia leaf called “Reb A.” From PureVia’s website the process is explained as:
Pure Via only contains natural sweeteners. The pure Reb A from the stevia plant that sweetens Pure Via starts with stevia leaves, which are first milled and then steeped in water using a brewing method that is similar to brewing tea. The resulting stevia extract is then further purified to separate the Reb A through a proprietary technology used by PureCircle.
Finally, Reb A, the sweetest part of the leaf, is extracted, purified and then combined with other natural ingredients to make Pure Via.
The proprietary technology? This usually entails the use of ethanol to separate the Reb A from the other natural components of Stevia.
What about other stevia products?
If you need to use stevia i.e. as a packet to sweeten your morning coffee or smoothie our first choice would be whole-leaf stevia. Next would be a manufacturer such as Sweet Leaf which extracts the sweetness of the leaf with only purified water. No chemicals. No alcohols. No additives. However they do use a fiber filler called inulin because the extract would be too sweet on it’s own. By the way the filler makes up almost 99% of the volume of the packet.
So friends keep it clean! A few tips to remember for healthier living.
- Avoid all processed foods and stay away from products that say “sugar-free”.
- Eat foods in their whole state or as close to it as possible.
- READ LABELS! In today’s day and age it’s difficult to trust the front of the packaging. A general rule is if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you shouldn’t be eating it.
Enjoy the weekend and we’ll see you next week!
Donna and Daniela