Recent press releases and news reports (including an AllStarHealth blog post) revealed that the controversial sweetener stevia herb was finally about to go mainstream as major soda manufacturers announced their intention to begin using a newly-approved sweetener called Trvuvia in low calorie drinks. Truvia’s manufacturer makes a big deal over the fact that it’s an herbal product, and that it’s stevia, in particular but when you look at the ingredient label
it seems like the stevia content is more of a marketing angle than the key to Truvia’s taste and safety. Here’s what greets a visitor to the About Truvia webpage:
“Water. Sunshine. Nutrients from the earth. That’s what goes into the stevia plant. Then nature works her magic and creates a wonderfully sweet taste.
Next, we steep the leaves, much like making tea, that begins the process of capturing rebiana, the best tasting part of the stevia plant. Ultimately, this little leaf gives back a recipe for sweetness that’s both delicious and zero-calorie guilt free.
Try a spoonful of this sparkly-goodness in your coffee. Truvia™ natural sweetener is a sweet little something that satisfies your cravings without adding calories.
That sounds great. But when you read the label (which you should always do) you notice that the first, and therefore most abundant ingredient in Trvuia isn’t stevia, it’s erythritol, which is itself a sweetener. Which is to say that expensive Truvia, consists mostly of erythritol; good old inexpensive, natural and safe erythritol.
Erythritol is a ‘sugar alcohol’, that, like its close relative xylitol is totally natural, safe and non-toxic. Both erythritol and xylitol are found in fruits and vegetables. Both erythritol and xylitol have a white crystalline structure like table sugar (a little coarser), a neutral-sweet taste like sugar, and can be used spoon-for-spoon just like sugar in almost any kind of recipe. They’re the perfect alternatives to sugar, so much so that it’s surprising they aren’t 1000 times more popular. But as natural substances, they cannot easily be patented, so there isn’t enough profit potential to justify a Truvia or Splenda-scale high profile product launch and publicity campaign. So don’t hold your breath waiting for either erythritol or xylitol to come to you, you can go out to and start using them today, and you probably should.
There’s no ‘catch’ to using sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol instead of sugar, none at all. Because of their chemical structure, sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol produce an intense sweet taste like sugar. But, they metabolize into calories much much more slowly than regular sugars, so they don’t produce undesirable fluctuations in blood sugar or insulin levels, making them THE perfect sugar substitute. Incidentally, xylitol has also been shown to inhibit tooth decay, one more huge advantage over table sugar.
AllStarHealth has been selling 1lb and up bags of erythritol and xylitol from NOW Foods to nutritionally savvy customers for years. Their popularity can only increase but you don’t have to wait to start using them. Eliminating added sugars to your foods and drinks, is the first and foremost step many people need to take to start losing excess weight and keep it off. Why use expensive artificial fad sweeteners when there are better natural alternatives right now?