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If your sweet tooth causes you to crave sweets every day and you would like to cut back on added sugar, there are natural sweeteners to help you. Knowing how to substitute a variety of sweeteners for the standard white table sugar is a health-improving idea for every home cook.
I am often asked by my coaching clients what is my position on the popular Truvia brand of sweetener? Here’s what I have learned.
One type of alternative sugar is stevia, a plant that is native to Paraguay, where people have grown, harvested and used it as a sweetener for hundreds of years. Stevia is the primary ingredient in Truvia. Today, stevia is grown in Asia and South America due to its need for long hours of daylight, water and warmth. The sweet extract of the stevia plant is purified and blended with Erythritol crystals to make Truvia.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, and it is neither sugar nor alcohol. It occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. It is produced by the food industry from glucose fermented with yeast. It is 60-70% as sweet as table sugar yet it is almost noncaloric, does not affect blood sugar, does not cause tooth decay, and is only partially absorbed by the body. It is FDA approved as an additive. Because it is absorbed by the body before it enters the large intestine, it does not normally have a laxative effect, which can be a side effect of xylitol and maltitol, two other sugar alcohols. Overall, both stevia and erythritol appear to be sweeteners I can recommend to my clients. I use Truvia in my home when I bake.
I often recommend that people who must have some sweetness in their lives replace it with stevia or tiny amounts of honey. Here’s to healthy sweetness in your life and the lives of those you love!