Truvia has been marketed as the next big natural sweetener, promising all of the taste and none of the guilt that comes along with sugar. However, many are questioning just how natural the product is.
While it does contain some natural ingredients, the "extras" are causing some concern.
Also, the possible side effects of consuming this sugar substitute are rarely discussed, and more importantly not even being thoroughly researched.
Truvia is made with extracts of the stevia leaf, which is the feature that garnered the attention of health conscious people everywhere.
Stevia has been used as a natural sweetener for a long time, even surviving a temporary ban in some countries. It is known for its major health benefits, which include it being the only real alkaline sweetener.
The Cargill company, the manufacturers of the alleged natural sweetener, managed to extract the "best tasting part of the Stevia leaf" by steeping it (similar to preparing tea). This extract, which they've named Rebiana, is then purified.
Truvia contains a bulking agent (filler/additive...whatever you'd like to call it), erythritol, a sugar alcohol (sugar by-product) that has 70% of the sweetness of sugar, but only 5% of the calories.
Its chemical make up, however, is not classified as sugar or alcohol (hence, the sugar by-product label). Erythritol is an odorless white powder, that is actually more carbohydrate than sugar.
One benefit of this sugar-alcohol is that it is easily absorbed by the body. Unfortunately, it is easily eliminated (which can lead to laxative-like effects if consumed in large amounts).
What does "natural flavors" mean, you ask? Your guess is as good as ours.
The people at Cargill didn't think it was necessary to elaborate on this ingredient.
Dr. Janet Hull, author of Splenda: Is it safe or not?, suggests that these "natural flavors" may actually consist of monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG has been linked to respiratory distress, paralysis, and even death.
Generally, "natural flavors" are not natural at all, but concocted in a laboratory. These additives often work to keep you coming back for more.
There has been no definitive studies on the possible side effects linked to this sugar alternative.
However, consumers have reported digestive troubles as a result of using the product, which is most likely linked to the erythritol.
There is no proof that the sweetener is safe, or even natural, but Cargill's brilliant marketing team have effectively convinced many that this is a healthy alternative to sugar.
Considering the other carcinogenic sugar substitutes on the shelves, I guess one could make a strong case for it.
If you need a really natural alkaline alternative to Truvia, perhaps try real stevia leaf. There are no additional risky ingredients to consider, only what Mother Nature has provided.