Truvia vs. Stevia: What is a Healthier Alternative to Sugar?

Natural stevia and Truvia are both popular alternatives to natural sugar containing zero calories and offering a sweet taste without the health risks of added sugar.

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by
Chikodi Chima
— Signos
Staff Writer
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Reviewed by

Chikodi Chima
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Updated by

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Science-based and reviewed

Published:
April 16, 2024
April 25, 2023
— Updated:

Table of Contents

Nowadays, many people are turning to artificial sweeteners as healthier alternatives to sugar. Of these artificial sweeteners, two of the most popular are stevia and Truvia. Stevia is derived from a plant native to South America, while Truvia combines the stevia leaf and other natural ingredients. Both of these sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular due to their zero-caloric content, making them attractive options for those looking to maintain a healthier diet.

We will break down the similarities and differences between these two sweeteners and help you decide which is right for you.

It is important to be aware of the contents of artificial sweeteners before consuming them, as they can have both positive and negative health effects. Artificial sweeteners provide a way to sweeten foods and drinks without adding extra calories or sugar, which can benefit those who want to reduce their caloric intake. However, they can also contain chemicals such as aspartame or sucralose, which can cause adverse reactions in some people. Additionally, some research suggests that artificial sweeteners may impact the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, so it is important to consider this when making dietary choices.

What is Stevia?

Stevia is an herb native to South American countries, such as Brazil, that is a naturally sweet, calorie-free, and plant-based alternative to sugar. It is derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, a member of the Asteraceae family. It has a mild, sweet taste similar to sugar but not as intense. It can be used as a sugar substitute in baking, cooking, and beverages. It has been used for centuries in South America as a sweetener and medicinal herb.

Stevia has been found to have several health benefits, such as helping to regulate blood sugar levels, aiding in weight loss, and reducing inflammation. It is also known to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. It is also a good source of antioxidants and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium.

In terms of taste, pure stevia is sweeter than sugar but has a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is also not as soluble as sugar, so it dissolves slowly. For this reason, it is best used in recipes that are not too sweet and in drinks and beverages. Some people prefer to use stevia in combination with other sweeteners, such as agave nectar or honey.

Overall, stevia is a versatile, natural sweetener that can replace sugar in many recipes and drinks. It has many health benefits and a mild, sweet taste similar to sugar.

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Nutritional Facts of Stevia

Stevia-based sweeteners are an excellent alternative to sugar and are becoming increasingly popular for those looking to reduce their sugar intake. Stevia-based sweeteners are generally calorie-free and contain no artificial sweeteners. Stevia-based sweeteners also contain various beneficial compounds that can help support digestive health, blood sugar control, and weight loss. 

Some of the important nutritional facts to consider when looking at stevia-based sweeteners include:

  • Vitamins and minerals: Stevia-based sweeteners may contain some vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  • Antioxidants: Some stevia-based sweeteners contain beneficial antioxidants, such as quercetin and kaempferol, which may provide several health benefits.
  • Fiber: Stevia-based sweeteners are generally low in fiber, but some may contain a small amount of dietary fiber.
  • Sodium: Many stevia-based sweeteners contain a very small amount of sodium, usually in the range of just a few milligrams per serving.
  • Fats: Most stevia-based sweeteners are fat-free, making them a great choice for limiting fat intake.
  • Low glycemic index: Many stevia-based sweeteners have a low glycemic index, which makes them a good choice for those living with diabetes.
  • No added sugar: Most stevia-based sweeteners are free of added sugars, making them a great choice for those looking to reduce their sugar intake.

When choosing a stevia-based sweetener, it is important to consider the nutritional facts listed above and any other ingredients that may be present.

Potential Health Benefits of Stevia

Overall, stevia-based sweeteners offer a great option for those looking for a natural, low-calorie, and low-sugar alternative to traditional sugar. There are multiple health benefits of using stevia as a sweetener:

1. Stevia does not cause blood sugar levels to increase because Stevia does not contain any sugar.

2. Stevia does not cause tooth decay. Additionally, some studies have suggested that stevia-based sweeteners may actually have antibacterial properties that can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

3. Stevia does not affect insulin and glucose levels. It is a non-nutritive sweetener, which means it does not affect blood sugar levels or insulin production.

What are the Pros and Cons of Consuming Stevia?

The benefits of consuming stevia are that it is a natural, calorie-free sweetener with no artificial ingredients. It has a significantly lower glycemic index than sugar, so it does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels. In addition, it is heat-stable, so it can be used in baking and cooking. Stevia also contains compounds called glycosides that may have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the body against free radicals, which can cause cellular damage and contribute to chronic diseases.

The cons of consuming stevia are its slightly bitter aftertaste that some people may find unpleasant. Some research has suggested that it may affect fertility when consumed in large quantities. It is much sweeter than sugar, so it is important to use it in moderation. Additionally, it is less widely available than regular sugar, so it may be difficult to find in some areas.

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What is Truvia?

Truvia is a calorie-free sweetener made from stevia leaf extract. It tastes similar to sugar but without the calories and added sugar. It is often used as a substitute for sugar in foods and drinks or as a topping for desserts. It is available in granulated and liquid forms and can be used to sweeten coffee, tea, cereal, smoothies, and other foods. The granulated form measures cup-for-cup like sugar, while the liquid form is a concentrated sweetener. It has a clean, sweet taste that can be used in both baking and cooking. Similar to stevia, Truvia is a great choice for people looking to reduce their sugar intake.

Nutritional Facts of Truvia

Truvia is low in sodium, has no fat, and is a good source of dietary fiber. Each teaspoon of Truvia has 2 grams of carbohydrates and 0.2 grams of protein. It is also vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

Potential Health Benefits of Truvia

The potential health benefits of Truvia are similar to stevia because Truvia is derived from stevia.

  1. Truvia may cause improvements in dental health because of the absence of sugar and its antibacterial properties.
  2. Truvia does not affect insulin and glucose levels.
  3. Studies have also shown that Truvia may contain antioxidant properties, similar to research done on stevia.

Pros and Cons of Truvia

Truvia is low in calories, making it a great table sugar alternative for people looking to reduce their calorie intake. Truvia does not affect insulin and glucose levels in the same way sugar does. For people living with diabetes or those who are watching their blood sugar levels, this is another positive benefit. Also, because Truvia doesn't contain sugar, it may also help reduce plaque formation and improve dental health. However, there are downsides to Truvia worth mentioning. 

Some people find that Truvia and other stevia-based sweeteners have a bitter or metallic aftertaste. When consuming Truvia, others may experience side effects, including gastrointestinal symptoms, bloating, or diarrhea. And while Truvia is made from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, it undergoes significant processing before it reaches the consumer. This may be a concern for people who prefer whole, minimally processed foods.

Stevia vs. Truvia: What are the Key Differences?

While both items are derived from the stevia plant, there are some key differences between the two.

Sourcing and Production Process

Stevia leaves are harvested and dried before being processed to extract the sweet compounds, which are then purified and dried to form a powdered sweetener. Truvia is a branded sweetener made from the stevia plant, but it undergoes a more complex production process. Truvia is produced by extracting the sweet compounds from the stevia plant, purifying them, and combining them with other natural ingredients, including erythritol and natural flavors.

Chemical Components

Stevia contains compounds called steviol glycosides, which are responsible for its sweet taste. The human body does not absorb these compounds, which makes stevia calorie-free. Truvia also contains steviol glycosides, but also contains erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol. While erythritol is also calorie-free, it is not a natural component of the stevia plant.

Sweetness Level

Stevia is known for its intense sweetness, which can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. On the other hand, Truvia is less sweet than stevia and is typically used in the same quantities as sugar.

Common Uses of Stevia and Truvia

Both stevia and Truvia are commonly used as sugar substitutes in various foods and beverages. Stevia is often used in tea, coffee, and other hot beverages, while Truvia is commonly used in baking and cooking due to its similarity to sugar in texture and volume.

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Bottomline: Which One is Better for You?

The choice between stevia and Truvia as additives ultimately depends on personal preferences and dietary needs. If you are looking for a natural option, Stevia may be the way to go. Truvia is sourced from the leaves of the stevia plant and undergoes minimal processing. On the other hand, Truvia is made from a blend of stevia and erythritol, which some may prefer for its taste and texture. Signos recommends considering natural sugar alternatives, such as monk fruit extract and agave nectar, which are are also growing in popularity. 

While stevia and Truvia may have some health benefits, consuming them in excess may still lead to health problems such as weight gain and dental issues. As with any food, follow guidelines set out by your dietitian or consult the FDA guidelines. And remember that moderation is key.

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References

About the author

Chikodi Chima is a journalist and author who has spoken internationally about health wearables.

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