The variety of artificial sweeteners on the market has increased, especially as more and more people seek ways to satisfy their sweet tooth without consuming a lot of the calories that come with sugar.
The chemical taste of the artificial sweetener saccharin (used in Sweet ‘N Low) has long been replaced by more real-tasting additives like aspartame. This is especially good news for people with diabetes and others who need to manage their blood sugar levels.
Like these artificial sweeteners, products derived from stevia do not impact blood glucose, according to the Diabetes Teaching Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
Stevia products also might help with weight loss. Not only is stevia many times sweeter than sugar — meaning you need to use very little of it — it’s also calorie-free.
Stevia rebaudiana is a genus of plants native to South America. Its common names, sweet leaf and sugar leaf, suggest its tastiness.
A highly refined form of stevia called rebaudioside A (marketed as Rebiana) is classified as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a food additive by the
Less refined forms and stevia leaves aren’t approved by the FDA for use in foods but are sold as a health food supplement in powder and liquid form. Remember to always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements.
Truvia is a commercial product created by the Coca-Cola Company and the food and chemical company Cargill. It is made from refined stevia.
It is used as a sweetener for cooked or baked products and as a tabletop sweetener that you might add to coffee.
Truvia is marketed as a natural product because of its origins in the stevia plant, but it is removed from its roots by several refinements. It also has added ingredients, including erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and natural flavoring.
Both stevia and Truvia have virtually no calories. Additionally, because stevia is many times sweeter than table sugar and most other sweeteners, you’ll use much less.
No calories means that stevia-based products could be a helpful part of a weight loss plan. But remember that any food can increase your weight if you eat more calories than you expend.
This means if you replace the sugar in a recipe with stevia-based products, you reduce the sugar’s calories but don’t change the calories of the other ingredients.
According to a 2013 research review, studies suggest stevia and its derived products don’t cause tooth decay and may help stop bacteria growth in the mouth. That means stevia won’t cause cavities, and it might even prevent them and the gum disease gingivitis.
One of the biggest advantages of sweeteners made from stevia over other non-sugar sweeteners is that you can heat them and use them in cooking and baking.
Truvia’s manufacturers recommend using a third as much Truvia as you would sugar. Truvia is also sold in blends that contain some table sugar and brown sugar.
If you don’t have much of a sweet tooth but are still curious about stevia, try adding a stevia leaf to a glass of unsweetened iced tea.
Stevia has been studied for many effects, both good and bad. A 2012 study published in a Chilean health journal suggests stevia could have a positive mood effect on the brain, while also reducing sugar cravings.
Also remember that most of the stevia available in the United States, including Truvia, is a processed and refined version of the real stevia plant. Studies using the stevia plant itself do not mean that processed stevia will have the same result.