The “Stevia Project” : weeding out the “sweet talkers”

"The Project" series of my blog is where I "deep dive" into researching a particular food or product. I really enjoy researching stuff. I have to put out this post on stevia because of the additional ingredients I have been running across in some stevia products.

My concern came about because a product may be labeled "Stevia", and we would assume it is pure stevia. However, when we look at the stevias containing additional ingredients, they can cause me great concern.

This label was taken from the back of a stevia product. I have noticed that a lot of stevia products are not pure stevia leaf. Many seem to be watered down with Maltodextrin or Dextrose.

Maltodextrin is a somewhat sweet carbohydrate usually produced from corn starch. For me it's the corn that is the real issue. It seems that maltodextrin is a product that is readily available because our GMO corn industry has run amuck. If the product does not say organic and contains Maltodextrin, then its a safe bet that it's GMO corn. I try to stay away from it, I have to take control of the sugars that go in my body. This sweetener thing is complicated enough, and I don't need them throwing something else new at me.

Dextrose is Glucose by another name, and is a simple sugar. It is produced from the starches of corn, wheat, cassava, and some others. Once again the GMO corn is the issue for me because most dextrose in the USA is produced from corn starch (sigh……)

Stevia is a natural product and a whole food in it's traditional form, but beware of the "other ingredients". I noticed that in some stevia products, the stevia is not even the main ingredient, but the box is labeled "Stevia" (…….shaking my head).

Stevia has been used in the pre-Columbus Americas for more than 1,500 years, and the plant has a long history of medicinal use in Paraguay and Brazil. The leaves have been traditionally used for hundreds of years in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten local teas, as medicines, and as a sweet treat. Such longevity dictates if we want to use the whole food as they have been used historically, we would not want that product to be mixed with questionable modern additives.

Some stevias also contain inulin which "could" be and issue with people with Candida, which is a problem associated with excessive yeast. Inulin supposedly feeds bacteria that cause candida. I ran across a blogger who wrote a good article on other ingredients in stevia as they relate to Candida.

I have a big concern about the products Truvia and PureVia, creations of Cargill (Truvia), and a Monsanto spinoff company called Merisant (PureVia). I consider their "made from stevia" claims to be VERY misleading advertising. These products are basically made with a chemical derivative of stevia called Rebiana, created from stevia leaves by steeping them in water. They also contain "Erythritol", a sugar alcohol. Thus, they say "contains stevia" or "made with stevia" but Rebiana + Erythritol is not Stevia in it's traditional sense.

There is confusion between the names "Rebiana" and "rebaudiana Bertoni". The latter is the botanical name for the stevia plant, whereas Rebiana is a patended process for a chemically extracted product. Our good friends at Cargill have made a play on the botanical name to try to fool the unawares. You know how they do.

There have been concerns about Rebiana being a "mutagen", defined as any substance that may alter genes. These products are a million miles away from the traditional whole food that is the stevia leaf that has been used for centuries. Anyone consuming Truvia should read this article. It is MUST READ, before you put this stuff in your body.


Another product that I gave a thumbs down was "Stevia In the Raw", from the makers of "Sugar in the Raw" and "Sweet N Low". Being affiliated with the makers of Sweet and Low was the first warning sign. Basically "Stevia in the Raw" is promoted as being different from Truvia and Pure Via because although it uses the Rebiana mentioned above, it does not use the other ingredient in Truvia and PureVia, a sugar alcohol called erythritol. Either way, the Rebiana is NOT real stevia, but a chemically altered extract of the stevia plant. And therefore, "Stevia in the Raw" is not real stevia or raw stevia. I don't know if the source of all the side effects listed in the link above has been isolated to either Rebiana or erythritol, but my common sense logic is to stay away from Stevia in the Raw, considering all the reported health issues with Truvia .

UPDATE 3/12/2014 – I wanted to mention a GREAT product I just ran across in 2014, a Stevia by a company called NaturAmericas. Their Stevia is 100% Stevia, no additives, no preservatives. They might be worth taking a look at. The link to NaturAmericas Stevia is here.

UPDATE 3/18/2014 - after two days of use NaturAmericas Stevia is now my preferred sweetener. The reason I will be using it over the Ultimate Sweetener Birch Tree Xylitol mentioned below is that Xylitol is not a historical food, Xylitol having been invented in the late 1800's. (Although I will Keep Some Ultimate Sweetener Xylitol around for occasional baking because of its near sugar look and feel). Would have been a different story if the Native Americans were making Xylitol from birch trees for hundreds of years. NaturAmericas doesn't have the bad aftertaste as all the other stevias (a slight aftertaste kicks in when I use too much, but I only need a little), and when you open the container, you don't see that stark white powder, but a light colored lime green, some assurance that this is acturally derived from a leaf. It is organic and no other added ingredients except the stevia plant. I have no affilation with them, just trying to help others out in their Sweetener Quest. Check them out!!!

I used to use a brand of Stevia called Sweet Leaf Stevia. I noticed that the single serving packets contain inulin fiber, but the concentrated version in the small jar does not, and the liquid extract does not. I noticed the same think about the brand called "Now" as well as many others. Very confusing stuff. And to be honest with you, I don't know if inulin fiber is good, bad, or not relevant, but I continue to keep the packets of "Sweet Leaf" Stevia in my wallet. I didn't get the impression that inulin fiber was something for me to be concerned about. Besides,  it's for the occasional coffee shop visit, since I'm not an everyday coffee drinker. When at home or work, I keep a jar of quality raw organic honey. From what I understand, vegans don't eat honey, so for them, it must be an even harder dilema to deal with all this sweetener madness out here. In the end I wasn't super crazy about its taste, but as mentioned above, I eventually came back around to NaturAmericas Stevia.

I also used a product called The Ultimate Sweetener Xylitol, which is made from birch trees. Xylitol is not actually a sugar, but a so called "sugar alcohol". It has a very pleasant taste, like a not too sweet sugar. I'm confortable with it now, but I am gonna keep researching it because it is not an ancient food tested through time, it was invented in the late 1800's. Plus, most xylitol is made from corn and vulnerable to being GMO. So, I can't use anybody's brand of xylitol because I stay away from corn. If Birch Tree xylitol turns out to be safe and healthy, then that will be a very practical solution for most people, as it relates to taste, convience, etc. But, as soon as it gets popular, the GMO corn xylitol producers are gonna swoop in and start fooling people. You know how they do. The quest never ends I guess.

In conclusion, once again, as with the term "antioxidants", "stevia" has become the latest "catch phrase", when big business observe that consumers are trying to do better by purchasing a healthy whole food, and these same corporations swoop in create to their own versions of the product. These corporate versions often stray away from the natural whole food that the product once was, and it becomes a product that possibly should be left alone. So in the end, READ AND UNDERSTAND YOUR LABELS!


also, see my article on the Top 10 Sweeteners to AVOID: the devil is in the details

~stay healthy~


check out all my articles in "Eat Smart", the science of food (click here or on the photo below)

18 Responses


Thank you for all your in depth articles.  I appreciate your hard work.  Please keep it going.  I was using Stevia In the Raw.  I will now throw it out and keep looking for some other natural sweetner.


I have always liked digging into this kind of stuff. When it’s all said and done, there is really no optimal sweetener. The Xylitol works very well for me right now. I love honey, although vegan’s don’t mess with it. But you can’t use honey anywhere and everywhere. It’s a shame how they are fooling people with these products such as Truvia, PureVia, and “Stevia in the Raw”. In the end, I’m lucky because I don’t use a lot of sweeteners, and when I have tea or coffee, I use raw real honey. But I’m not an everyday tea or coffee drinker anyway.


You also might want to look into this sweetener called The Ultimate Sweetener, which is an xylitol made from birch trees. . The issue with xylitol is that it can also be made from corn, so you have to make sure of what you are doing.


Thanks for sharing Doug.  I have been concerned about the stevia hype as well.  I was thinking that I might try planting some stevia in my garden next summer just to see what it tastes like straight from the plant.  But my sweeteners of choice are pure maple syrup (grade b of course) and honey (my new favorite straight from the farmer).  Thanks for all your great research!


Thanks for your comments. I’m not a super big fan of stevia anyway because of the taste. I would love to get honey straight from a bee farmers. Reading material from all you great bloggers had me move up to pasture raised eggs, maybe it’s time to go to the next level with honey also. see you next “Freaky Friday”


I can't even believe it. I just bought like 3 boxes of "stevia" it's actual brand name is "Stevia". I just looked at the ingredients on the back and Stevia is not even one of the ingredients. Unbelievable!! I feel like calling the company. I'm going to have to start looking at labels more carefully I guess. This has been a learning experience for me.


It makes me wanna “holla” the way they do us. If you got the from Whole Foods, I know they will let you return anything. That’s why I use Sweet Leaf Stevia, because I am comfortable with what’s in it, but that was trial and error just like you.


Your Comments
Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!


AGREED! I get so aggravated with these fake- stevias. I think the best response is to  make your own from actual leaf through alcohol extraction. 


Thanks for your comment. “The Crunchy Marriage??????”


Your Comments– It's great that you've gone through and run down the purity issue with white stevia extract and other alternative sweeteners. 
In my opinion, inulin is OK: it is an oligosaccharide, which is like a starch (polysaccharide) except that it is made of long chains of fructose, not glucose. It does feed bacteria, but my understanding was that it feeds beneficial bacteria that keep the candida fungi in check (xylitol is also antibacterial in this way).
Here's another problem with stevia: some brands add something called "natural flavors" to their stevia products.  I think Sweet Leaf and Nu Naturals both do so. A good friend of mine was recently having some serious health challenges. She went through all recent dietary changes to try to see what had triggered it, and after a lot of trial and error, figured out that it was the "natural flavorings" in her flavored stevia drops that were causing the problem. Pure, plain stevia was fine. I would really like to know what was in those "natural flavors:" she's now afraid of that designation whenever she sees it on a package!
I think they cut it with maltodextrin so that it's easier to measure, but I vastly prefer the higher percentage steviosides stevia powders. I like the Now Foods one very well, and it's reasonably priced too.


Interesting comments. I got the impression inulin was OK, I just hate that they put something in everything. In the end I am not really crazy about the taste of stevia. But I keep a packet in my wallet. Fortunately I am not a daily coffee drinker. I really like this Birch Tree Xylitol product, I just want to make sure it is OK to use consistently. In the end its it’s about a sweetener for coffee and tea, I use raw honey at home and work.


[...] The Stevia Project: Weeding Out the “Sweet-Talkers,” by Gaia Health Blog.¬†This is a fantastic little expos√© on the real deal behind all those so-called stevia sweeteners. Are you using an actual, natural stevia extract? Or is it a genetically-modified corn derivative laced with a chemically-extracted fake version of the sweet herb (manufactured by subsidiaries of Cargill and Monsanto, no less!)? [...]


Well….it figures.  Honestly, I have often thought that Stevia in the Raw was too good to be true and have half- been waiting for the other shoe to drop…..KER-PLUNK!"  I will throw out the huge bag I just bought and go back to the extract in the bottle….it's expensive…it's hard to find…but it's real.  Thank you for the information.


It’s a shame how they go out of their way to trick us. Thanks for checking out my blog


Small bits of content which are explained in details, helps me understand  about it, Thanks.


Thank you for this article. My new years' resolution LAST year was to eliminate the consumption of ALL artificial sweeteners, and I have accomplished that for over a year now. I do allow Stevia though, but was unaware of the adulteration of stevia sweetening products like Truvia, etc. Good to be informed.
On a side note: I could not help but notice in your side-bar, the picture of the handsome, ab-bearing man you captioned: "Eye candy" for my female readers. Must I apologize if I enjoyed it too (-: ?


I found that as I got rid of those fake sweeteners, I needed less sweet anyway. So far as the guy with the abs, that was a response to some women complaining about my previous “Body” slideshow with only female hotties. Suppose that comment was my paranoid Heterosexual way of letting everyone know that I wasn’t enjoying the guys too much, making sure everyone knew where I was. You know how we are. I was trying not to discriminate, but I suppose I might still be doing that anyway LOL!!! I guess the comment “For My Female” readers was from my “All American, Heterosexual Male” perspective, but I suppose everyone has the right to look and enjoy, it’s all good, live and let live!!!! I’m glad you enjoyed it. ~stay healthy~

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