Thursday, January 14, 2010

With sugar on top

I make no secret about being radically against artificial sweetners. I’m not ashamed to say loudly in public that items like Splenda (sucralose) and NutraSweet (aspartame) are poison. I tell my kids, I tell my friends.

As another alternative to the evils of processed white sugar, the Whole Earth Sweetner Company (PureVia) and Cargill, Inc. (TrueVia) have come up with sugar substitutes made from the stevia plant.

Stevia has it’s own website [which, interestingly mentions problems with the FDA in getting the supplement approved for use in the United States.] Apparently this calorie-free relative of the sunflower can provide better sweetening services than cane sugar with none of the adverse side effects of artificial sweetners. Personally, I develop a headache after using products that contain aspartame. I also find foods sweetened this way tend to have an unpleasant aftertaste. Getting less calories might be a good thing, but doing it by eating things that don’t taste right isn’t the answer for me.

I understand that sugar intake can be a serious problem for diabetics and people suffering from other disorders. Sugar substitutes have their place, but are they really a good idea for the average person looking to lose weight or avoid excess calories? We’re a society that lives on Diet Coke and low fat yogurt [often supplemented with artificial sweetners] and yet obesity is still a major health issue. Is something like Stevia really the solution?

The story of Stevia isn’t all sweet according to this article which highlights problems caused in laboratory rodents when exposed to high amounts of the supplement. Too much of anything, as we usually discover, is bad, no matter what it is.

I’m actually planning to give one of the Stevia products a try. Though I don’t normally use sugar to sweeten my drinks or my cereal anymore, and most of my sugar intake does come from already prepared food, not items I make and add sugar to myself.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has tried PureVia or TrueVia. What do you think of it? Will it replace sucralose and aspartame in popularity? Do you think sugar substitutes really have an effect in weight loss and diabetes or would a naturally reduced or sugar free diet be a better alternative?

1 comment:

  1. Not much help on this one. I freak out when company's coming because I've got to find the sugar, and the pink stuff, and the blue stuff, and the yellow stuff...