Truvia Vs Stevia: Which is better?

Truvia Vs Stevia: Which is better?
January 8, 2015 8:28 PM

People often ask which is better - Truvia or Stevia? This article provides detailed information on both of these natural sweeteners and explains where these substances come from, their benefits for human health and also some negative (side) effects.

Truvia and Stevia: A Brief Introduction

Before going into the comparison of Truvia and Stevia, a brief introduction of both Truvia and Stevia would help you understand the discussion to follow more easily. Let us start with some basics here.

Truvia

Truvia is an “all-natural” sweetener created from stevia plant. It is actually a stevia-based sugar substitute developed jointly by The Coca Cola Company and Cargill. In the market, it is distributed by Cargill as a food ingredient as well as a table top sweetener. The company claims that it’s a non-caloric sweetener made from rebiana (a purified extract of stevia leaf). Although stevia is considered safe by most health experts, it hasn’t been approved by the FDA as a food ingredient in a number of European countries. Stevia is available in the U.S but is marketed as a dietary supplement.

Truvia is sold commercially in the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. However, it has been banned from many European countries and some countries of Asia like Singapore. According to the authorities of banned countries and European Union, additional research is needed before its approval can be given as a sugar substitute.

Ingredients

Truvia is made from stevia leaf extract (rebiana), erythritol and natural flavors. Erythritol is the largest ingredient in Truvia by weight. This ingredient is basically used to provide bulk and sugar-like crystalline appearance and texture to Truvia. The erythritol used in Truvia is made through a natural fermentation process (process in which an organism digests one or more food sources to produce a desired product). In the formation of erythritol, a natural yeast, Moniliella pollinis digests a simple sugar named dextrose and other nutrients to produce erythritol. After the process of fermentation, erythritol is filtered and dried to form crystals.

Another major ingredient, which forms Truvia, is rebiana. Rebiana is derived from a stevia plant. However, rebiana is certainly not the same thing as stevia. It is a molecule of the stevia plant. Furthermore, according to some researchers, it is 400 times sweeter than sugar. Mostly trivia is basically erythritol, with a small amount of rebiana.

Benefits of Truvia

Truvia is a sugar substitute. It can help you reduce the amount of sugar in your diet without having to give up on sweets and artificial sweeteners. Moreover, it has some other benefits over sugar and other sweeteners. Some benefits of Truvia are briefly mentioned below:

Low Calorie

Truvia contains low calories in it and it can be used instead of sugar, which contains 15 calories per tea spoon. The main benefit of Truvia is that it can help you to stick to your diet by eating sweet treats without cheating on your diet plan. How good is this? You can eat sweets without having to worry about putting on weight. This is effective since sugar is one of the basic culprits behind weight gain and only seconded by fat.

Controlling Blood Sugar

Using Truvia instead of sugar and other sweeteners can help in the stabilization of your blood sugar levels because of its stevia and erythritol constituents. Erythritol is the filler which is used to increase the bulk in Trivia packets; it is less likely (in comparison to sugar and other sweeteners) to cause sudden increase in your blood sugar levels. Truvia is especially recommended for individuals with diabetes who are sensitive to the effects of sugar. It helps with diabetes because it doesn’t cause dramatic increase in blood sugar as seen with the use of regular table sugar.

No Tooth Decay

The oral bacteria cause fermentation of ordinary sugar in the mouth, which produces acids that wear down the teeth. However, such bacteria have no use for the sugar like ingredients present in Truvia. This means that you can take Truvia without worrying about Tooth Decay.

No bloating

Another major benefit of Truvia is that it doesn’t cause any bloating effects. Most of the ingested erythritol is immediately absorbed into the small intestine. Only a small amount of erythritol reaches the large intestine. Since only a small amount reaches the large intestine, hardly any laxative effects are felt.

Cons of Truvia

Truvia contains sugar alcohol in it. Some sugar alcohols like maltitol have been accepted as an alternative to sugar. However not every one’s digestive system is tolerant to sugar alcohols. A study has shown that erythritol can lead to nausea and stomach rumbling. Another major drawback of Truvia is that since it is relatively a new product, therefore not much study has been done either on Truvia or its components.

Stevia

Stevia is a sweetener and a sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of species Stevia rebaudiana. It is part of the Asteraceae Family related to ragweed and daisy. Several species of stevia called “candyleaf” are native to Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. It is also found in Paraguay and Brazil where the natives have used leaves from stevia bush to sweeten foods for hundreds of years. In these regions, stevia is also used in the treatment of burns, stomach problems and colic. It is also, sometimes, used as a contraceptive.

The major compounds of stevia are steviol glycosides, which have up to 150 times the sweetness of sugar. Furthermore, they are heat-stable, non-fermentable and pH-stable. The steviosides have almost negligible effect on blood glucose. This makes stevia attractive for people who are on carbohydrate-controlled diets. Other than steviol glycosides, some extracts of Stevia have a bitter aftertaste at high concentrations.

Benefits of Stevia

There are several reasons why you should choose Stevia. Some of the most important health benefits of stevia are described below:

Controlling Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels

For centuries, stevia leaves have been used as a herbal medicine in the traditional treatment of diabetes in the South America. Today scientific evidence supports the fact that stevia helps in regulation of blood sugar levels and insulin.

In comparison to sugar and other sweeteners, consumption of stevia before meals results in lower after meal glucose and insulin levels. These effects of stevia on blood sugar have been observed when the plasma glucose levels are elevated. This doesn’t lead to the lowering of blood sugar levels in healthy individuals.

Lowering Of Blood Pressure

A double-blinded placebo controlled study showed that oral stevioside when taken at doses of 250 mg three times a day for one year, resulted in significant decreases in the systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the patients with mild to moderate hypertension. Another study proved that people who take stevioside have significant lowering in their blood pressure.

Dilation of Blood Vessels

Certain glycosides in stevia extract dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion and urine output. All these effects can be beneficial for patients with heart disease and hypertension.

Vital Minerals

Other than being a herb, stevia contains vital minerals and vitamins in it which are absent in other artificial sweeteners.

Cons of Stevia

Some common disadvantages of stevia that you must understand are mentioned below:

Can Become A Carcinogen

A study has shown that Stevia can actually be transformed into a mutagenic compound which can lead to cancer. However, more research is needed for further clarification.

Not recommended for use Of Nursing and Pregnant Women

Just like other sweeteners present in the market, stevia is still not recommended for nursing and pregnant women. Although the research in this regard is still lacking. Till the effects of Stevia on pregnant and breastfeeding are known in detail, females in such conditions should avoid using products containing stevia.

Bitter Aftertaste

Another drawback of stevia is that although it is quite sweet, the substance does have a bitter aftertaste. According to some users, its taste is similar to that of licorice.

Truvia Vs Stevia

The debate between Truvia Vs Stevia as to which of them is better is more than just a matter of a few calories. Both of them are marketed as a substitute to high caloric and sugar-laden table sugar. Both of these are considered healthier options in comparison to other natural sweeteners like neotame, aspartame and acesulfame potassium. Therefore, the bottom line is that whether you take stevia or Truvia, you don’t have to worry whether these artificial sweeteners are safe or not. Having said this, there are some fine distinctions between Truvia and Stevia. Although both of them are considered to be of the same mold, there are still some sharp difference between the two. As an example consider there chemical properties. It can easily be noted that Truvia is actually Stevia plus more.

A consumer’s choice ultimately comes down to which of the two is more easily accessible, which tastes better and which is affordable. However, a better way to choose a sweetener is to keep in view the health benefits and associated health risks of each sweetener. Keeping this key point in view, a brief comparison of Truvia and Stevia will be given in the next few paragraphs.

Truvia Vs Stevia: The Basics

Stevia is actually a natural sweetener which is extracted from the leaves of Stevia Rebaudiana (a low growing shrub cultivated originally in Asia and South America). The liquid extract of Stevia is considered to be 15-30 times sweeter than refined sugar. The Stevia powder produced through a chemical process of crystallization is considered to be sweeter than sugar by as much as 200 to 300 times.

Unlike Stevia, which can be produced naturally without the aid of any additional chemicals, Truvia is a compound which needs at least two ingredients along with Stevia. Truvia has stevia as its major ingredient but it also contains the chemical erythritol in it. It is a zero caloric natural sweetener that is added to Stevia leaf for serving as a bulking agent. Erythritol adds to the volume of Truvia as a bulking agent. Erythritol can be extracted from fruits such as pear, grapes and melon. Moreover, it is also found in mushrooms and fermented products including cheese, wine and soy sauce. Stevia, as already mentioned is produced from the whole leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant. On the other hand, erythritol is chemically processed for retaining only rebiana which is the sweetest component of the Stevia leaf. This is probably the reason that Truvia has a small amount of Stevia leaf but the same amount of Truvia is much sweeter than the same amount of Stevia. However there is a downside to it according to some experts and it is that Truvia retains less associated health benefits of Stevia.

Another thing is very important to mention here. Stevia leaves have been for thousands of years as a sweet tea by the inhabitants of Latin America and Asia. On the other hand, Truvia was only recently developed by Coca Cola and Cargill companies to use in their free beverage line.

The Down side Of Truvia

Stevia can be made naturally without the addition of any chemical. On the other hand, to form Truvia, additional chemicals have to be added along with stevia. The main ingredients of Truvia are Erythritol, Rebiana and Natural Flavors. Whatever the advertising companies might say, chemical and chemicals and they come with some side effects too. Now let us look at each of these ingredients one by one. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which is made by chemically processing genetically modified (GMO) corn. It is the main ingredient of Truvia. Sugar alcohols are notorious in the sense that they are hard to digest and are also known for their unpleasant side effects including diarrhea, cramping gas and bloating.

Rebiana is the molecule which gives the stevia plant its sweetness. It is chemically separated from the plant in its natural state. Only half of one percent of Truvia is Rebiana. The third ingredient is the natural flavors. In America, this term isn’t FDA regulated. Due to this reason there are no standards when using this word. This is one of the best examples of how the term natural is used for deceiving the consumers because nothing about Truvia is natural at all despite the maker’s claim. The makers of Truvia have used marketing deceptions such as using picture of leaves and color green on the Truvia packaging implying that this product is “all natural”.

Stevia Vs Truvia: Benefits and Side effects

When it comes to comparing Truvia and Stevia, both of them have their own benefits and side effects. Some benefits and side effects of Truvia and Stevia are mentioned below:

Stevia doesn’t lead to conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions are associated with refined sugar. The bacteria in mouth convert ordinary sugar into acids that erode the enamel of teeth and lead to decay of teeth and several gum diseases as well. However, these side effects are not seen with Stevia. Moreover Stevia has zero calories in it making it ideal for dieters who are conscious of their carbohydrate intake. Another benefit of stevia is that it doesn’t has a glycemic index and therefore it doesn’t blood sugar swings. This might be helpful for diabetics since they’re supposed to eat foods with low glycemic index. In fact this fact has been proven scientifically as well. A 2011 review found that the usage of stevia sweeteners as a replacement for sugar might benefit diabetic patients. These are some benefits of stevia.

However, more research is still needed. A 2009 review summarized that stevioside and its related compounds are under research for possible anti-hypersensitive, anti-tumor, anti-diarrheal and immunomodulatory actions. None of these effects have been demonstrated in humans. Furthermore steviol and rebaudioside A are not mutagenic at the doses of administration at which humans are exposed to them. The WHO joint committee has approved an acceptable daily intake of steviol glycoside up to 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This shows that stevia as a sweetener is safe to take.

In the 1980s, animal studies linked stevia with adverse effects on fertility and reproductive development and genetic mutations. These effects have not been demonstrated in humans so far. The chemical process involved in extracting stevia is much simpler and shorter compared to that of Truvia. This shows that stevia might also contain more nutrients as compared to Truvia such as Ascorbic acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, iron, magnesium potassium, protein, zinc and phosphorous. These nutrients are wasted during the extractions process of Truvia. This is a huge plus Stevia has over Truvia.

Stevia also has relatively more market exposure in comparison to Truvia. There is abundance of commercially available stevia products. This isn’t the case with Trivia, at least for now. Now let us see the benefits and side effects of Truvia. As already mentioned Truvia contains a sugar alcohol named erythritol. Now the downside to sugar alcohols is that it has a natural tendency for causing gastrointestinal effects. Erythritol is unique among these compounds and has one of the most favorable nutritional profiles. Some benefits of erythritol are that it is almost as sweet as sucrose, it is non-caloric and it can’t be fermented by the gut bacteria present in the small intestine. According to the Truvia website, 90% of erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine and excreted in the urine. Only a small amount of it reaches the large intestine where the gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating and cramping originate.

A downside of Truvia is that it is possible that a person might experience allergic reactions due to the ingredients present in Truvia. Since it is extracted from an herb (stevia), it is possible that it may trigger reactions like ragweed in people who are sensitive to the plants present in the same species as Stevia. Several clinical studies have been conducted regarding Truvia. In a clinical study, there was no difference found between groups taking Truvia and the group taking a placebo.

Another major problem with Truvia are the deception tactics used by the manufacturers. On the Truvia packet, it is written that it is all natural. But the truth is that it is not. Truvia isn’t a natural sweetener. It uses sugar alcohol in it along with rebiana. Therefore, it is in no way natural but is manufactured in the laboratories under special conditions. If you’re looking for something natural then go for Stevia instead of Truvia.

Truvia Vs Stevia: Which is better?

Having discussed all the comparisons, differences and pros and cons of Truvia and Stevia, the question still remains that which of the two (Truvia and Stevia) is better. The simple answer to this is that more research is needed to find which of the two is better. Having said this, there is one thing the consumers need to keep in mind. It all depends on the consumer’s preference. For example if a consumer is looking for sweet taste, then he should definitely go with Truvia because the same amount of Truvia is way sweeter than Stevia. On the other hand, if the consumer is looking for an all-natural sweetener, he should buy Stevia. The reason is that Stevia is all natural and extracted from a herb whereas Truvia isn’t naturally found. It has to be manufactured in the laboratory. So the bottom line is that it all depends upon the consumer’s preferences that what he wants in his natural sweetener. The health benefits of Stevia and Truvia are comparable and more or less the same. Truvia, however, has got more side effects as compared to Stevia.

Conclusion

This article has given the readers a brief introduction of Truvia and Stevia. In the second half of the article, a brief comparison between the two is given to find out which of the two is better. In conclusion, both Truvia and Stevia have their own benefits and side effects. The debate is still going on as to which of the two is better. More research is needed to give a decisive decision in this matter. For now all you need to know is that both are artificial sweeteners and both are good natural sugar substitutes.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Article resources: [1] Truvia.com
[2] Marksdailyapple.com
[3] Superhumancoach.com
[4] Lef.org
[5] Steviapoint.com
[6] Healthresearchfunding.com
[7] Eluxemagazine.com
Image resources: Dollarphotoclub.com
Published: January 8, 2015 8:28 PM
Next scheduled update: January 8, 2017 8:28 PM
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