Friday, May 01, 2009 sweet to be true?

Last year when it was announced that stevia was going "main-stream" and was to be used in all sorts of products, someone asked me what I thought.  The girl I was discussing it with had the opinion that because "it's natural it has to be good".

I disagree...even natural things can be unhealthy when they are (a) chemically altered and processed (as the food industry does to everything) or (b) consumed in ever increasing amounts (as Americans do with sugar and artificial sweeteners).

My thoughts on stevia are that in its pure, unprocessed form it's fine.  Use a little once a day to sweeten your tea or big deal!  

But what if you start buying (and consuming) orange juice, soda, and other beverages sweetened with it (which are already available)...and then what happens when the food industry starts putting stevia in yogurt, cereal, ice cream, cookies, etc?

I don't really know...but my philosophy with all things food related is "a little of everything, a lot of nothing".  Eat a wide variety of foods/beverages, but not too much of any one thing.  Use stevia occasionally if you like the way it tastes, but don't substitute it for all things sweet.  Use sugar occasionally too, just don't pile it on!

And honestly, if you are worried about getting too many calories from sugary less of them!  Calorie-free sweeteners are like a band-aid for the real problem...Americans eat too much sugar, usually in the form of high-calorie, refined/processed junk food.  So is the same junk food minus the sugar plus stevia any healthier?  NO!  

And seriously...if you can't afford (nutritionally speaking) to drink ORANGE JUICE (which has NO added's just the juice from oranges), and feel the need to switch to Trop50 (the new OJ with 50% less cals and sugar - sweetened with stevia of course!), you need to re-evaluate your diet.

This post was inspired by something I read recently by Marion Nestle...this woman knows the food industry!  Here's an excerpt from what she wrote:

Is Stevia really “natural?”

The April 26 New York Times Magazine carried a seductive ad on page 15 for PepsiCo’s “Trop50 orange juice goodness with 50% less calories and sugar…And no artificial sweeteners”  PepsiCo performs this miracle by diluting the juice by half with water (really, you could do this at home).  But in case the result isn’t sweet enough for you, Trop50 adds the sweetener, Stevia.

PepsiCo can get away with claiming that its juice drink has no artificial sweeteners.  Because Stevia is isolated from leaves of the Stevia plant, the FDA lets companies claim it is “natural.”

We can debate whether a chemical sweetener isolated from Stevia leaves is really “natural” but here’s another problem: Stevia doesn’t taste like sugar.  Companies have to fuss with it to cover up its off taste.  And, they must do so “without detracting from the perceived benefits of its natural status.”  Flavor companies are working like mad to find substances that block Stevia’s bitter taste, mask its off flavors, and extend its sweetness, while staying within the scope of what the FDA allows as “natural.”

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mrs. Blair its Maddie from dance! I love your site!