Stevia Ain’t ‘Natural’ – The Bitter Truth




In the recent period, stevia has become quite popular around the world. This extract, which is often used as a sugar substitute, is pH-stable, non-fermentable, and heat-stable. It contains two basic active compounds known as rebaudioside and stevioside that belong to the group of steviol glycosides.

Stevia has been used by people in South America since ancient times. They’ve used it as a sweetener and for healing too. Since it is very sweet, they have also used it in various foods including baked goods. Stevia rebaudiana plant has leaves that come with some interesting medicinal properties and that’s why they are known as sweet treats in Paraguay and Brazil.

Industrial derivatives and extracts are different than natural herbal stevia

Now let’s analyze the difference between natural and processed stevia. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many beverage manufacturers started using artificial sweeteners. Many beverage producers started using substitutes for sugar like aspartame and cyclamate as well as Saccharin.

After that, some of them started using sucralose (Splenda) an artificial sweetener without calories and nutrients.

However, many scientific studies have confirmed that these artificial sweeteners are leading to various health problems, and on top of that, they ruin the taste of the drinks.

Popular beverage companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola have decided to replace these sweeteners with something they have considered to be a more natural solution. They have found a way to extract the ingredient that creates the sweetness of stevia plant leaf.

However, the process itself changes this ingredient to a point where it is barely recognizable.

Stevia in Soft Drinks is not Natural

Almost every process that is trying to extract or isolate certain compounds alters the structure of that ingredient and makes it unnatural.

With the help of marketing, people were convinced that they were drinking something completely natural and good for their health unlike drinking other soft drinks that contain standard artificial sweeteners. Of course, this is not true because both ingredients are more or less the same. The extraction includes several steps and Coca-Cola company has its patent to create a special “version” of stevia.

Many modern food and beverage companies promote their products that include stevia variations under different names. What is important to know is that all these stevia derivatives and extracts cannot be called natural. They are extracted and processed by using chemical methods, so it is quite logical to assume that there are some chemical residues and byproducts that have the potential to harm our bodies. It is good to point out that there are no studies or tests about the effects caused by regular long-term use of these ingredients.

Things to look for…

As we have mentioned before, many companies have their own “natural” sweeteners that are based on stevia and they come in different names. Here’s a list of some of them:

  • Truvia – a brand used for Rebiana promoted by Cargill. This form of stevia was produced in cooperation with the Coca-Cola Company.
  • Rebiana – this sweetener contains large amounts of rebaudioside A
  • Enliten – rebaudioside A sweetener produced by Corn Products International
  • PureVia – A brand of rebaudioside produced by PepsiCo
  • Erylite Stevia – A sweetener with rebaudioside A produced by Jungbunzlauer.

So, the natural herb stevia is perfectly safe for use and people should feel free to use it as a sugar substitute. However, the chemically processed forms that we find in beverages should be avoided until we get the results from at least a couple of scientific studies. Real stevia is often used by people suffering from diabetes and those with Metabolic syndrome as a complete replacement for all sweeteners. Herbal stevia is very sweet and it can suppress sugar cravings.

It is also good to mention that herbal stevia is a little bit bitter too. This is something that can be quite useful for the body especially because bitterness is a taste that is not frequent in modern foods.


The source of natural ingredients and the manufacturing process itself determine the usefulness and safety of the final product. When we talk about modern products that contain stevia, we need to be careful. It is good to consider processed stevia to be unnatural.

Try to avoid these drinks and foods and wait for the first scientific study results.

Via Eat Local Grown

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