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Truvia: The Truth behind Truvia Natural Sweetener Featured

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poring-trivia-in-handTruvia Natural Sweetener is the newest in a line of no-calorie sweeteners, but this one is different; Truvia Natural Sweetener is made from the plant stevia, an herb used throughout South America and Japan for centuries. However, in the US, stevia has only been sold as a dietary supplement due to FDA concerns.

Truvia is a lucrative marketing merger of the “true,” with the herb stevia and all its natural (or novel) associations, depending on your familiarity with the natural foods (dietary supplement) arena.

Truvia Natural Sweetener has no calories and tastes sweet. Truvia Natural Sweetener does not have an aftertaste like some artificial sweeteners.

Truvia was developed by Cargill and Coca-Cola. Their Truvia Natural Sweetener's slogan is  “Sweetness born from a leaf, not in a lab.”

Truvia Natural Sweetener’s History

The stevia plant, the source of Truvia, is a shrub native to Paraguay. It is also grown for its sweet leaves in South and Central America. The plant is commercially grown in China. Stevia had been used in Japan for decades before it was approved in the United States.

Truvia Natural Sweetener was introduced in 2008. Truvia is manufactured by Cargill, a company based in Wayzata, MN, and developed in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company.

Truvia Natural Sweetener’s Ingredients

Truvia Natural Sweetener is made from rebiana, the best tasting part of the stevia leaf, erythritol and natural flavors.

  • Erythritol: Erythritol is an all-natural, non-caloric sweetener, used as an ingredient that provides bulk for the tabletop form of Truvia™ rebiana. Bulking agents are additives that increase the bulk and contribute to the texture of a food. Erythritol has been part of the human diet for thousands of years as it is present in fruits such as pears, melons and grapes, as well as foods such as mushrooms and fermentation-derived foods such as wine, soy sauce and cheese. Erythritol is added to foods and beverages to provide sweetness, as well as to enhance taste and texture.

In the body, erythritol is absorbed into the bloodstream in the small intestine, and then for the most part excreted unchanged in the urine. Because erythritol is normally absorbed before it enters the large intestine, it does not normally cause laxative effects as are often experienced after over-consumption of other sugar alcohols (such as xylitol and maltitol) and most people consume erythritol with no side effects. This is a unique characteristic, as other sugar alcohols are not absorbed directly by the body in this manner, and consequently are more prone to causing gastric distress. As a whole, erythritol is generally free of side-effects in regular use, but if consumed in very extreme quantities (sometimes encouraged by its almost non-caloric nature), effectively consuming it faster than one's body can absorb it, a laxative effect may result.

Erythritol has been certified as tooth-friendly. The sugar alcohol cannot be metabolized by oral bacteria, and so does not contribute to tooth decay.

  • Rebiana: Rebiana is the trade name for Truvia, named after the compound Rebaudioside A. Rebaudiosize A is isolated from the leaves of a plant called stevia. Rebiana was isolated from the plant because Rebiana is reportedly is the sweetest part of the stevia plant, creating a great and natural sweet taste.

The extract from the stevia plant is 300 times sweeter than sugar and it has been used as a sweetener for food and drinks for over 200 years. The process of making sugar from this plant is similar to the tea making process. The leaves are harvested and dried and steeped into fresh water. It is then purified and crystallized.

For many years, the leaves from the stevia plant have been used as an herbal dietary supplement. Stevia has also been widely used by natural food advocates, but in the past it was not allowed to be used as a food additive because of questions regarding safety.

  • Natural Flavors: The Food and Drug Administration defines natural flavor, or natural flavoring, as an essential oil, oleoresin, extracted or essence, protein hydrolysate or distillate. The natural flavors in Truvia are the derivatives from the stevia plant, according to the manufacturer.

Truvia Natural Sweetener’s Detailswoman-sugar-lips

Truvia natural sweetener’s crystals come packaged in little green and white packets in a flip-top container. One packet of Truvia is equivalent to two spoonfuls of sugar. The packets are very convenient for using in coffee and on food.

What makes Truvia a Better Artificial Sweetener?

Unlike most stevia-based sweeteners, which are typically a mixture of many components from the stevia leaf, Truvia Natural Sweetener is made from rebiana, the best tasting part of the stevia leaf.

Is Truvia Natural?

Yes.  Rebiana comes from the leaf.  The leaves are harvested, dried and steeped in water (similar to making tea) to remove the sweet tasting glycosides.  Rebiana is purified from the plant and other components in the leaf.  During this purification process, rebiana does not undergo any chemical change.

Is Truvia Organic?

No. While rebiana comes from a plant, it is not certified or grown organically at this time.

Has the FDA Approved Truvia?

The FDA has not approved all of stevia. The FDA issued a no-objection letter affirming and supporting the safety of rebiana, a well-characterized, 97% high-purity ingredient derived from the best-tasting part of the stevia leaf.

Is Truvia Natural Sweetener Safe?

Stevia, (the leaf which Truvia is extracted from) is considered safe by most experts, but it has not been approved by the FDA as a food ingredient in the U.S. and a number of European countries.

A small number of older and controversial rat studies found some association between high consumption and decreased fertility, lower birth weight and cancer. However, more recent research including a 2006 World Health Organization analysis found no evidence of negative health impact. Additionally, no health issues have been noted in the indigenous populations that have used stevia for generations or in Japan, (where it is a very common and legally accepted sweetener used for decades) In the U.S, stevia has been available but marketed instead as a dietary supplement.

Research on the safety of Truvia Natural Sweetener has thus far been limited to several studies sponsored by Cargill itself.

In May 2008, Cargill and Coca-Cola revealed a series of scientific studies to demonstrate stevia’s safety. The studies were presented to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The studies were also published in the advance online edition of Food and Chemical Toxicology.

The studies on Truvia Natural Sweetener were published together in a special supplement addition of the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal this past July. The Truvia Natural Sweetener studies used both rats and humans as test subjects. Other than one study focused on reproductive impact, durations ranged from 4-16 weeks and used high doses of rebiana. According to the assembled research, there currently isn’t any indication that rebiana negatively impacts health. The rebiana substance was shown to be safely metabolized and secreted. Cargill adds that this research is meant to be examined in tandem with the plethora of existed studies on stevia – mainly steviol glycosides, which includes rebaudioside A, the primary element of Cargill’s rebiana.

Is Truvia Natural Sweetener Safe for Children, Pregnant and Nursing Women?

Pregnant and nursing women can safely use Truvia Natural Sweetener.  Safety studies published in the peer reviewed scientific journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, found rebiana to be safe with no negative effects on general health, reproduction, fertility, growth or development of offspring. Rebiana is generally recognized as safe for use in foods and beverages for use as a general purpose sweetener. This regulatory designation means that rebiana is generally recognized as safe for use in foods that are commonly consumed by children, such as yogurts, cereals, and beverages.

Can People with Diabetes use Truvia Natural Sweetener?

Yes, diabetic individuals can use Truvia Natural Sweetener.  Clinical studies have shown that daily consumption of 1,000 mg of rebiana, equivalent to drinking eight 8-ounce servings of rebiana sweetened beverage every day, for 16 weeks did not affect blood sugar control and was well tolerated in people with type 2 diabetes. Truvia Natural Sweetener has no effect on the glycemic index.

Can Truvia Natural Sweetener Cause Hypoglycemia?

Truvia natural sweetener has no effect on blood sugar or glycemic index.

Is Truvia Natural Sweetener Safe for Someone on a Gluten Free Diet?

Yes, Truvia natural sweetener does not contain any gluten.

Are There Any Medical Conditions that Should Avoid Truvia Natural Sweetener?

There are no known side effects of Truvia natural sweetener and is not known to be contraindicated for any medical conditions.  Allergies are not common but could occur in sensitive individuals.

How Does Truvia Natural Sweetener’s Taste Measure Up?

According to Cargill, and a number of tasters who either sampled the Truvia at the company’s official rolling out event or who have purchased the product online, say Truvia has no offending aftertaste, leaving nothing but “clean, pure” sweetness. Other Truvia taste testers seem to be responding positively as well, even preferring Truvia Natural Sweetener to real sugar in many cases.

Is Truvia the Best Artificial Sweetener Today?

Truvia Natural Sweetener is a healthy alternative to Splenda, NutraSweet, Equal, and other artificial sweeteners because Truvia is considered a natural sweetener. Truvia Natural Sweetener also tastes better than other artificial sweeteners.

Truvia also has a lower glycemic load, which means that when it hits the bloodstream, the insulin response is lower and less severe. This means that Truvia Natural Sweetener and other stevia based sweetners also a good alternative for people with diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

Since Truvia Natural Sweetener’s debut it has competed with the other artificial sweeteners. However, Truvia has one big natural sweetener competitor, PureVia, which is Pepsi’s own Stevia product.

Does Truvia Natural Sweetener have any Side Effects or Cause Allergic Reactions?

There has been a few instantiated claims that Truvia causes bad breath, back and neck pain, headaches, gas and diarrhea, constipation, bad taste when eating or drinking, grogginess, mouth sores, weight gain and carb cravings.

So, what’s MyBestHealthPortal's take on Truvia Natural Sweetener?

In our minds the jury is still out on the safety of Truvia Natural Sweetener. While the initial Truvia studies offer some degree of safety and health assurance, the studies on Truvia safety are extremely limited in terms of populations tested, biomarkers analyzed, and durations used.

First off, it isn’t 100% clear that rebiana is entirely the physiologically-acting equal of other forms of stevia used throughout the world. Short-term studies that last a mere 4-16 weeks don’t tell us much about the long-term effects of a substance. And though one Truvia study observed no impact on fertility or offspring in rats over two generations, somehow that still isn’t enough for us to recommend Truvia Natural Sweetener to our pregnant sister-in-law. Also, we wonder how well the substance will be tolerated in people with autoimmune disorders, certain food allergies, high blood pressure or other medical conditions.

On a related note, we wish we knew more about potential substance interactions – how prescription drugs, hormonal therapies, or other medicinal treatments might alter the body’s processing and secretion of the substance over time.

Finally, some stevia critics also add that most of their stevia crops are generally grown in China under non-organic conditions. Given the recent problems with Chinese produced crops and medicinal substances (e.g. infant formula, pet food, heparin components), this fact doesn’t exactly inspire the deepest confidence in the safety of stevia based sweetener products like Truvia.

Ultimately, our perspective on Truvia Natural Sweetener is the same as it is with any artificial/altered sweetener: ask yourself if the sweetened food/drink offers any real benefit (physical or otherwise) that you couldn’t get from the same or similar food/drink that’s unsweetened. If using an artificial/altered sweetener gives you an excuse to eat or drink things that probably aren’t good for you anyway (like Coca-Cola), we definitely say skip it. In this case, it’s just a crutch that perpetuates sweet cravings. If it allows you to have a sensible alternative for foods and drinks that offer you some kind of nutritional or personal benefit, then it might be a reasonable addition to your diet on occasion.

We’ll be watching as the news about Truvia Natural Sweetener unfolds and promise to bring you updates as they come along. In the meantime, we want to hear what you think of the latest sweetener to hit the shelves. Have you tried Truvia? Do you intend to try Truvia? Tell us your thoughts about Truvia Natural Sweetener.

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 00:32
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