Truvia - A New Sweetener Using Stevia

Truvia is the brand name for the new sweetener product created by Cargill. Rebiana is the common name for the new extract derived from the stevia plant used to make Truvia. Obviously, we sweetener experts are now researching whether the corporate claims of Truvia's sweetener safety are real or, like aspartame and Splenda's claims of health safety, are simply marketing hype.

An aspartame colleague, Carol Guilford, sent the following email to a representative at the Cargill company, makers of Truvia.

    ----- Original Message ----- From: carolguilford Sent: Fri 7/11/2008 11:13 AM To: Truvia - Subject: To Whom It May Concern

    Is the stevia mixed with erythritol? Very unclear in the FAQ's what exactly is in the product aside from "the best part of the stevia plant."

    Carol Guilford

    To: carolguilford
    Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 10:18 AM
    Subject: RE: To Whom It May Concern

    Yes, rebiana is a purified extract from the stevia leaf. Rebiana is approximately 200 times as sweet as sugar and therefore requires a bulking agent when used in a tabletop sweetener formulation. Truvia natural sweetener uses erythritol as a bulking agent.

Truvia is marketed as a natural sweetener that comes from the stevia leaf and not exclusively from a lab beaker. Well, so far so good - this is a better claim than those for sucralose or aspartame. When steeped like tea leaves, the stevia leaf produces what the Cargill company calls rebiana. They state that rebiana, wholly developed by Cargill, consists of the best-tasting components of the stevia plant.

Erythritol, a sugar alcohol, is used as a filler or bulking agent in Truvia, and natural flavors are added to enhance the sweet taste. I am not a fan of natural flavors, AKA monosodium glutamate (MSG), and I have published many articles and written in my book, Splenda: Is It Safe Or Not? about the sugar alcohols (i.e. erythritol). But so far, I am more impressed with the product Truvia, rebiana steeped stevia, or whatever they choose to call this new sweetener than I have ever been concerning the carcinogenic effects of aspartame and the adverse effects from the chlorine in Splenda.

I am not a fan of sugar alcohols extracted from their natural sources, nonetheless, but they are much better for the body than lab chemicals that eat holes in the human brain, like those in aspartame.

Sugar alcohols are actually made from sugar. Part of their structure chemically resembles sugar and part is similar to alcohol. To complicate matters more, these sweeteners are neither sugars nor alcohols--they are best described as a sugar by-product refined by nature, not by man. Sugar alcohols fall into a "grey area" in the sweetener arena because they are actually carbohydrates (starches) more than they are sugars. They are typically used cup-for-cup in the same amount as refined sugar, but they each vary in sweetness, ranging from half as sweet to as sweet as sugar. Sugar alcohols blend well with other sugars, so they are commonly added to products such as gums, candies and mints, toothpaste and mouthwash. And now in Truvia. Please keep in mind, these "grey area" sugar alcohols can give people gastric distress if consumed in excess.

Included in this group of sugar alcohols are:

  1. Erythritol
  2. Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysates
  3. Isomalt
  4. Lactitol
  5. Maltitol
  6. Mannitol
  7. Sorbitol
  8. Xylitol

Erythritol is an odorless white, crystalline powder with a clean sweet taste approximately 70% as sweet as sugar, making Truvia even sweeter. Like most sugar alcohols, erythritol does not promote tooth decay. It has approximately 7% to 13% the calories of other sugar alcohols and 5% the calories of sugar. Because erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly eliminated by the body (within 24 hours), laxative side effects are sometimes associated with excessive use.

Sugar alcohols are used in a wide range of low-calorie, low-fat and sugar-free foods, from baked goods to frozen dairy desserts, since they provide bulk without all the calories of sugar. Sugar alcohols do not commonly promote tooth decay, so are used in toothpastes, mouthwashes, breath mints and pharmaceuticals such as cough syrups, cough drops and throat lozenges.

Some of the sugar alcohols that are not absorbed in the blood are broken down into fatty acids in the large intestine. People on low-carbohydrate diets or who have diabetes may not respond well to the sugar alcohols in place of sugar because some people report that sugar alcohols act as "trigger foods," causing carb cravings or binges.

Since the intestine does absorb the sugar alcohols, excessive use can cause gas or laxative effects similar to reactions to beans and certain high-fiber foods. Such symptoms depend, of course, on an individual's sensitivity, health status, and what other foods are eaten at the same time. A positive way to look at it--your body may be showing you its limit on how much sugar it really needs by "kicking out" the excess.

About the makers of Truvia:
Cargill is America's second largest, private corporation (after Koch Industries). Cargill's operations include grain, cotton, sugar, petroleum and financial trading; food processing; futures brokering; health and pharmaceutical products; agricultural services such as animal feed and crop protection; and industrial products including biofuels, oils and lubricants, starches, and salt. The company is one of the leading grain producers in the US, and its Excel unit is one of the top US meatpackers. Cargill's brands include Diamond Crystal (salt), Gerkens (cocoa), Honeysuckle White (poultry), and Sterling Silver (fresh meats), and Nutrena (dog and cat food).

So, do I recommend Truvia?
I recommend not using any added sweetness in your food or drink, but if you must add a sweetness of some sort, I always recommend adding the unprocessed natural sugars, like Succanat®. To me, adding sweetness means adding natural sweetness in its natural form. I typically avoid anything re-created in a laboratory.

Out of the colored sweetener packets, Truvia can now be found in a green and white packet. For now, it appears that this is the better choice than the blue, yellow or pink packets. But again, why not use pure stevia instead?

My primary question concerning all these marketed, newly created packaged sweetener substitutes is this:

Why do we need them???? If you eat raw, natural whole foods, use NO extra sugars, and drink healthy liquids, why do we need these alternative sweeteners competing for "#1 In Show??" America's gluttony and desire to be thin with no accountability, you think?? Plus, it makes stockholders big bucks!

Posted August 2008 | Permanent Link

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