Nutrition Video Series: Stevia

I get asked about artificial sweeteners and/or stevia at least once a week. I wish I could cover every artificial sweetener in one 60-second video, but I can hardly even do one! So in this week’s nutrition video, I covered stevia. Here are the points covered in my video, along with more info on artificial sweeteners! 

  • Stevia is 300x sweeter than sugar. It is labeled by food companies as being a “natural” sweetener since it comes from a plant (unlike artificial sweeteners such as Splenda/sucralose, which is man-made in a lab.)
  • Currently, there are no human studies showing negative outcomes from consuming stevia. There are also no studies confirming the role it plays in long-term weight reduction and maintenance.
  • One of the main reasons people choose foods with artificial sweeteners is to cut calories and added sugar. But ironically, studies show eating these zero-calorie foods that taste very sweet confuse our appetite regulation systems…meaning you’ll likely have an increased appetite leading you to eat more calories. Recent research has also found that sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda) may alter healthy gut bacteria in ways that could actually promote weight gain.
  • Majority of the foods that have stevia or artificial sweeteners added aren’t foods that provide much nutritional value to our diets in the first place. Adding stevia to these processed foods may replace some of the calories and sugar, but it doesn’t make the food any more nutritious for you. Stevia leaf extract is most commonly added to: soft drinks, canned fruits and jams, ice cream, candy/desserts, and alcoholic beverages. Take a look at the foods you are consuming that contain artificial sweeteners.
  • If you’re consuming artificially sweetened foods regularly, it could be wrecking havoc on your taste buds, decreasing your ability to enjoy the subtler flavors of naturally sweet foods such as fruits and vegetables. I’ve had multiple clients cut out artificial sweeteners and notice a huge difference in how sweet fresh fruit and even vegetables taste to them.
  • Fun Fact: did you know Truvia is owned by Coca-Cola, and Purevia is owned by PepsiCo?? Truvia’s tagline is “Nature’s calorie-free sweetener”, but it’s actually chemically extracted steviols combined with sugar alcohols…and contains less than 1% stevia. YIKES.
  • If you’re consuming stevia because you believe it to be “natural” or “unrefined”, you are being mislead. Be careful, companies love putting health halos around foods with stevia! Unless you’re using dried stevia leaves or growing your own stevia herb plant at home, chances are that powdered stevia is no less refined than white sugar. Whole stevia leaves, like most herbs, have absolutely been shown to provide health benefits! But the highly processed refined version that you actually find in foods has not been shown to provide any health benefits whatsoever. But a food product containing stevia will make it seem as if it is an all natural “superfood”.
  • Scientists and dietitians are divided in their views on the issue of artificial sweetener safety. I personally am team real sugar. I believe real sugar trumps artificial any day – and that it’s not necessarily real sugar that’s the issue, it’s how much people are consuming.

Watch the full video below!