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Are You Ready to Hear the Bitter Truth About Stevia?

I don't know about you, but when I hear the word 'Stevia,' I think of Breaking Bad and the character Lydia's obsession with the stuff. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably haven't used Stevia since. But while the supposedly healthy sweetener won't leave you lying in bed while Walt bids you farewell, it can do some pretty nasty things to you over time that will make you wonder why you didn't just use sugar or honey. The rebaudiana plant is commonly used in a variety of goods, especially baked ones. It is a commonly-used herb that has been used in South America for centuries. Part of the sunflower family, it is also known as candyleaf and is used for, yup you guessed it, sweetening many products.
Oh, Lydia.
So what's the problem with the commercial Stevia we all know and love, you ask? If it uses a centuries-old herb popular with South American tribes, what could possibly be wrong with it? Well, the problem is that the rebaudiana found in Stevia is actually not natural – rather, it is a highly processed variant. Companies like Coca Cola love to market the fact that they make use of rebaudiana, but what's often the case with such companies is that the rebaudiana has been tweaked and formulated to ensure that the sweetest components from the leaf make it into the products. This not only preys on the sugar addiction many Americans face (as we've covered here), it also renders the original herb essentially unrecognizable from its modified counterpart. A few studies have even found that replacement of sugar with products like Stevia does not actually lead to weight loss. In fact, it has been found that artificial sweeteners increase one's likelihood of obesity.

Trade Names

But not all forms of artificial sweeteners derived (and I use the term loosely) from the rebaudiana herb are known as Stevia. In fact, you need to keep an eye out for products with the following brand names:
  • Rebiana
  • Truvia (developed partially by Coca-Cola)
  • PureVia (Pepsi's brand of sweetener)
  • Enliten
  • Erylite Stevia

The Takeaway

So here's the skinny on artificial sweeteners. The natural herb stevia is good. Anything else, bad. Natural stevia has been used by diabetics and those with metabolic syndrome to aid in the process of quitting other sweeteners. Natural stevia also has a bit of bitterness to it – which is perhaps another reason stevia has been so heavily modified.

Learn more in the video below! (h/t: Eat Local Grown)