Todayâ€™s Email Monday is all about stevia â€“ or, clarifying some misconceptions about stevia (and who it might be appropriate for).
So, what have you heard about stevia? Most likely, that itâ€™s natural.
Youâ€™ve probably also heard that itâ€™s a better, healthier choice than artificial sweeteners. (itâ€™s definitely marketed that way.)
Stevia is loved my many because itâ€™s widely thought to be a natural zero-calorie sweetener, but thereâ€™s more to the story.
The bottom line: REAL stevia is just a plant whose leaves are sweet. This plant was used in its natural state (chewed or dried and ground into powder) for centuries by indigenous cultures for its sweet taste.
Almost anyone can grow, dry and powder the stevia plant in their own home. Iâ€™ve got some in my garden.
THATâ€™s â€œnatural.â€ THAT's "real" stevia.
The stevia we're sold at the grocery store - the stuff we're told is "natural" and "healthy" - is really anything but.
Stevia as it's marketed today has only been around for a few decades. In fact, it's only over the last hundred years that BSCs (Big Sweetener Companies) have tried to make a profitable product out of what they originally thought would be a viable, profitable competitor to sugar cane. When that didnâ€™t happen, they began hoping itâ€™d be a profitable â€œnature-washedâ€ alternative to the artificial sweeteners that we now know are likely toxic, like aspartame.
When I say â€œnature-washed,â€ I mean that the only thing â€œnaturalâ€ about the industrial stevia-ish stuff (including stevia extract and â€œTruviaâ€) is that a single compound isolated from the stevia plant is used â€“ often right alongside other industrially-derived chemicals.
Shockingly, as discussed in this article, the major compound used in the so-called stevia-based sweetener Truvia is actually erythritol, which is derived from yeast that â€œmay be fed with [GMO corn sugar].â€
Doesnâ€™t sound so â€œnaturalâ€ to me.
(Itâ€™s like saying a piece of Tupperware is â€œnaturalâ€ because the plastic itâ€™s made from is derived from soybeans. Dumb.)
Unless weâ€™re buying a bag of ground-up raw green stevia leaf powder, the â€œsteviaâ€ products weâ€™re sold at the grocery store are unnatural, highly processed derivatives that don't at all resemble the plant itself.
You wonâ€™t be surprised to hear that I believe ALL so-called stevia-derived products, from packets to extracts to tablets and Truvia and even â€œStevia in the Raw,â€ are just junk in disguise; and even if they arenâ€™t hurting anyoneâ€™s progress or turninâ€™ to formaldehyde in the stomach (aspartame, anyone?), I tend to avoid them on principle.
That said, Iâ€™m not one to say that all sweet things are bad. In fact, I think that ACTUAL stevia â€“ the kind thatâ€™s nothinâ€™ but dried and powdered leaves from the stevia plant â€“ can be an a-ok addition to a cup oâ€™ tea or a grain-free baked good now and then.
(Heck, you can even grow and powder that stuff yourself!)
For some people, raw green stevia leaf powder is far better than chronic sugar overdose. For those just transitioning to a healthier way of eating and living, itâ€™s probably an acceptable, useful, temporary crutch.
Itâ€™s much better, of course, than using the toxic, processed, industrial artificial sweeteners in the blue and pink packages.
For those who have their sugar-n-sweet cravings under control, itâ€™s probably no biggie to use a little of the green stuff. (Raw green stevia leaf powder, that is. Wink.) That said, if your sugar cravings arenâ€™t an issue, might as well have some honey or dates or another natural, full-calorie sweetener.
However, if blood sugar management IS an issue, itâ€™s probably best to phase out - gradually or all at once, whatever you fancy is best for you - all sweeteners until itâ€™s under control. This includes the zero-calorie ones that do the sweet taste fake-out.
Why? Because itâ€™s not just about insulin management. Itâ€™s about the emotional response to sweet tastes.
(When it comes to sweetness, thereâ€™s really no calorie-free lunch.)
So hereâ€™s where I stand on stevia: as long as you know your body and its cravings AND you know the difference between real stevia and the industrial fakes, youâ€™re probably all set to figure out exactly what's right for YOU.
Do you use stevia? Let me know your thoughts on the Facebook page!