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Calorie Count Blog

Stevia and Rebiana: Facts and Myths


By Mary_RD on Jun 30, 2009 12:00 PM in Tips & Updates
Edited By +Rachel Berman

In case you haven't met, let me introduce you to rebiana, a zero-calorie sweetener from the stevia plant.  Stevia is a South American shrubby herb that is grown for its sweet tasting leaves.  Rebiana, who is also known as Reb-A, is the purified extract responsible for imparting stevia's sweet taste. 

Rebiana's Roots

Rebiana was developed by Japanese scientists back in 1971.  Since then, Reb-A has been used as a sugar substitute throughout Asia and Brazil.  Reb-A recently received its 'safe food' status in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  In the US, Reb-A (but not stevia) was added to the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list in December 2008.  Food watchdogs, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) say we can't be sure Reb-A is completely safe, but independent toxicologists reporting to the FDA deny that Reb-A is mutagenic in mice.

Rebiana's Appearances

Cargill, the Canadian industrial giant, partnered with Coca-Cola to trademark Truvia™.  Truvia is the consumer brand for rebiana sweetener in the United States.  PepsiCo and Whole Earth Sweetener Company also have a version called PureVia™.  Coke and Pepsi have been building stevia processing plants on plantations in China for years.

Truvia™ and PureVia™ packets are not just rebiana.  Erythritol is mixed with Reb-A sweetener to tone down its licorice aftertaste.  Erythritol, a natural extract made from fermented fruit, is a sugar alcohol that is listed as zero-calories on the label because the carbohydrates are minuscule in a serving packet.   But as with all sugar alcohols, large amounts may lead to digestive problems.  Rebiana is safe for use by diabetics.

Several products made with Reb-A are already on the grocer's shelves in the US.  Coke has two different 100-calorie Odwalla juice drinks and 50-calorie Sprite Green, and Pepsi sells SoBe Lifewater and Trop 50, a 50-calorie juice drink with a dash of sweetness under its Tropicana brand. 

Because rebiana products are allowed to use the “natural” label, expect Reb-A products to always be true and pure.  (Yeah, right.)


Your thoughts....

Have you tried a Reb-A product?  What did you think?



Comments


Why do they have to process everything? The government won't recognize a plain plant product like Stevia yet if a huge conglomerate like Coke messes with the product and changes it to something unnatural (and I don't care what the label says - this is now a processed, no longer natural product) and to something with which they can now make huge profits (how much do you suppose a Chinese worker in a Coke plant gets) and suddenly the product is safe and OK for the average consumer to down in giant gulps. Odds are it is now like every other artificial sweetener out there. It will help you stay fat and keep you hooked on sweets and fats forever! No thanks! I'd rather have sugar but luckily I don't have to - at least for now, I still have the choice of date sugar, agave, and stevia - any one of which is a better choice than Truvia. Thanks for the information, Calorie Count, now I know one more thing to avoid.



Tried it...loved it...use it most days.



what about Trader Joe's Stevia?  it says rice maltodextrose and stevia something and is supposed to be "pure" stevia?



It still isn't as good as sugar, but not nearly as nasty as the other processed and artifical sweetners. OK in coffee, still lousy in tea. When they come up with a sweetner for hot tea, I'll be impressed.



Mary wrote:

"Because rebiana products are allowed to use the “natural” label, expect Reb-A products to always be true and pure."

 

Now I'm worried about who is sponsoring this site!  Don't we know that the government allows huge amounts of synthetic things to be called "natural"  as long as they are derived from a "natural" source?  I wouldn't trust something with the "All Natural" label to necessarily contain ingredients that I would consider "natural."



Original Post by: kshandra

Why do they have to process everything? The government won't recognize a plain plant product like Stevia yet if a huge conglomerate like Coke messes with the product and changes it to something unnatural (and I don't care what the label says - this is now a processed, no longer natural product) and to something with which they can now make huge profits (how much do you suppose a Chinese worker in a Coke plant gets) and suddenly the product is safe and OK for the average consumer to down in giant gulps. Odds are it is now like every other artificial sweetener out there. It will help you stay fat and keep you hooked on sweets and fats forever! No thanks! I'd rather have sugar but luckily I don't have to - at least for now, I still have the choice of date sugar, agave, and stevia - any one of which is a better choice than Truvia. Thanks for the information, Calorie Count, now I know one more thing to avoid.


I agree with you, it's not right how the FDA and big corporate work. But I suppose by you posting this article probably have already seen that in the past not just with stevia but everything else they allow big corporate to put into food. It's scary knowing that our government is not out for our best interest but instead corporates, but they're one of the same aren't they? Inless you grow it yourself, and maybe even then not, you'll never really know what you're eating. I was one of those people a couple years back who thought people who tried to eat everything either organic or pure were over-reacting, but now I see it's definitely something to try to do as often as possible even if your pocketbook is hurting because you're health is all you've got.

On a sugary note: I use sugar in the raw from hawaii. delicious! It's just nonprocessed sugar and it tastes a million times better then white sugar...and in tea...



I just use erythritol - I buy a 5 pound bag - it's so much cheaper!  I found stevia too bitter and the packets like Z-Sweet are just too expensive.  I only use for my daily coffee and tea, I've never tried cooking/baking with it. 



What about Stevia that is put out by a company called Sugar In The Raw? Is this the true Stevia product? - like it and use it most days.


 I use it everyday, a lot better than Splenda. I mix it with coffee, yogurt, and I even made a cheesecake with it. I couldn't detect any aftertaste. Only problem is that it's not available at restaurants, coffee shops, or gas stations so I always gotta carry my own packets.



Original Post by: s0journer

Mary wrote:

"Because rebiana products are allowed to use the “natural” label, expect Reb-A products to always be true and pure."

 

Now I'm worried about who is sponsoring this site!  Don't we know that the government allows huge amounts of synthetic things to be called "natural"  as long as they are derived from a "natural" source?  I wouldn't trust something with the "All Natural" label to necessarily contain ingredients that I would consider "natural."


Obvious sarcasm is lost on some people.



I first heard about Stevia from one of my clients who got a bottle (liquid drops) from her herbalist. I purchased a box of serving packs from my grocery store "Only Sweet - Stevia Extract" but I have been to worried about aditional ingredients to use it on a regular basis. Says it is a blend between Maltodextrin? and Stevia Leaf Extract. I am also freaked out by things that don't have experation dates... and I can't seem to find one on the box or anywhere in it... but that's my own personal problem. I would just purchase the liquid extract like my client did but her herbalist is out of the country. He lives in Japan and only travles to the states to work like two months out of the year...



Of course the FDA will never approve Stevia, because it's good for you!

I've been using Stevia with all my drinks. It doesn't taste good with everything (ex. coffee, I use organic sugar) everything else is great. Zero calories and safe. The Stevia plants has been around for years, Stevia was used as a sweetener for medicine in south america. 

When it comes to sweeteners choose natural. By the way, Splenda is *not* good for you. Look at the ingredients... and look at the meaning of them... it's not sugar.



Original Post by: elizabethfrances

what about Trader Joe's Stevia?  it says rice maltodextrose and stevia something and is supposed to be "pure" stevia?


I wouldn't buy it from Trader Joe's. Buy pure Stevia Smile



I've used Stevia extract for several years based on a recommendation from my cardiologist. Due to a minor heart problem, I had to cut back on sugar, so he told me to try Stevia. I just saw the add for Stevia in the Raw and once my Stevia extract is gone, I'll give that a try!



Grow stevia in backyard, always have great pure God given sugar. Love it!!! pick leaves off dry them out crumble in whatever, pure sweetness. Its alive and given by God, its a natural choice.



I've been using pure stevia for a couple years now (Trader Joe's brand) and love it. Maybe a bit of an aftertaste if I use too much, but 99% of the time my tea (Yerba Mate) and coffee is great. I like the fact that stevia, from what I've read, does not produce an insulin spike like sugar.



I love Truvia.  It's definitely the best tasting form of Stevia I've yet to find, and so far I haven't had any digestive complaints from using it (which I'm prone to).  Although they are probably more natural, the liquid and powdered forms of pure stevia definitely do not sweeten as well as Truvia, in my opinion. 



I've tried a sweetener called Stevita in Brazil, made of Stevia and have been using it for almost a year. It tastes great and says it's 100% natural.



I think Stevia tastes awful. I keep randomly trying it at intervals and I just can't get into it. I'd rather use Agave and organic sugar in smaller amounts. I wish there WAS something that didn't leave a bad aftertaste.



Has anyone heard of WheyLow? This product is incredible! It is sugar without the calories. They have a great website. I just wish it was sold in supermarkets.



I've read strong arguments on both sides for artificial sweeteners.  I personally come down on the side of being a bit suspicious of them.

I've decided that just not having as many sweet things is okay. (All part of changing how I think about food to make long term changes to my diet.) I do use Stevia on occasion, but decided to use a bit of honey or agava when I really want something sweet and just add it to my calorie count.

I finally came up with an odd little theory of mine, the body will react to taste with physiological responses.  If there's a sweet taste the body will react accordingly and when the blood sugar doesn't rise it's gets 'confused'.  No proof or anything, just my thoughts.    



Original Post by: godsproprt

Grow stevia in backyard, always have great pure God given sugar. Love it!!! pick leaves off dry them out crumble in whatever, pure sweetness. Its alive and given by God, its a natural choice.


I think that's an awesome idea!  I've never tried stevia before, but I think I wouldn't mind trying it that way. Thanks for the idea, for some reason I never thought of that



Stevia users need to be careful, because it can lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure.  Also, you can be allergic to it.

Not saying it is bad - I don't know that much - just to exercise caution because there can be effects on your body.



Original Post by: annschmech

I've read strong arguments on both sides for artificial sweeteners.  I personally come down on the side of being a bit suspicious of them.

I've decided that just not having as many sweet things is okay. (All part of changing how I think about food to make long term changes to my diet.) I do use Stevia on occasion, but decided to use a bit of honey or agava when I really want something sweet and just add it to my calorie count.

I finally came up with an odd little theory of mine, the body will react to taste with physiological responses.  If there's a sweet taste the body will react accordingly and when the blood sugar doesn't rise it's gets 'confused'.  No proof or anything, just my thoughts.    


Your theory is actually scientific fact (amazing thing intuition is, isn't it?). That physiological reaction to fake sugar is exactly what makes fake sugars so bad for people, aside from the actual content of the sweeteners themselves. When the body tatses sweet and low or splenda (which, as mentioned, is NOT sugar. they take a sucrose molecule and replace 2 parts with chlorine (yea, the poison) so your body simply can't absorb it. disgusting) it does go into sugar mode, and when it doesn't actually get any, it craves it later. This can mess with insulin levels, and completely alter physiological processes related to metabolism and sugar. You actually gain weight drinking diet cola usually, and this is a big reason why.



Original Post by: ssshello

I think Stevia tastes awful. I keep randomly trying it at intervals and I just can't get into it. I'd rather use Agave and organic sugar in smaller amounts. I wish there WAS something that didn't leave a bad aftertaste.


I agree, I'm sticking with what little sugar I use.



On another note, I use Truvia myself. It has a slight aftertaste, as if I was eating confectioner's sugar or something, but it is not too bad. Since I have an awful sweet tooth, I usually go 50/50 with organic sugar and truvia when drinking tea since it covers the slight aftertaste. Have not cooked with it yet, but anything I have used it with (sprinkled on fruit, etc) tastes great.

 

They do have a product called "sun crystals" on shelves which is a 50/50 of stevia and sugar, which I may try next but have not yet. ANyone else?



I was using Stevia in my coffee to cut down on the sugar. I drink Nutrasweet in diet sodas, but overall, I'm trying to cut down and stick to natural. However, as my husband and I are trying to get pregnant, I started researching Stevia and found an article online saying it may increase risks of early miscarriage.

On the other hand, while I consider myself fairly savvy in discerning sensational buzz from real information, I can't really tell with so-called alternative products. The biggest problem is that the articles I could find, even going through my university library, were, by and large, not from medical professionals. There's a lot of he said/ she said out there, and I don't doubt that the FDA and the corporate conglomerates have arrangements together.

With that in mind, do any of you have suggestions or have you heard anything similar about Stevia. (In the meantime, I've have actually begun to like my coffee and tea without sugar-- maybe all of this will get me closer and closer to all-natural tastes!)


puh8suwrux    I went to a "farm" with my oldest son and granddaughter, they had a whole section of herbs...they said pick and try, so now I grow oragano, celantro, lemmon grass, and stevia, the stevia one after 2 yr old Zoey tasted and said candy.. I had to get, whenever she visits thats her candy bush..lol... she calls it Gods candy...but yeah I never would have thought of it except for the farm trip with baby.


I think we're still better off using real sugar and just accounting for the calories.  All these products come out strong and then we find out that all that processing did have a negative effect.  I'm sticking with sugar.



I think I might be addicted to Trop 50. It's got a lot less calories than orange juice, and definitely tastes less "heavy." Definitely a good swap in my book.



Original Post by: kshandra

Why do they have to process everything? The government won't recognize a plain plant product like Stevia yet if a huge conglomerate like Coke messes with the product and changes it to something unnatural (and I don't care what the label says - this is now a processed, no longer natural product) and to something with which they can now make huge profits (how much do you suppose a Chinese worker in a Coke plant gets) and suddenly the product is safe and OK for the average consumer to down in giant gulps. Odds are it is now like every other artificial sweetener out there. It will help you stay fat and keep you hooked on sweets and fats forever! No thanks! I'd rather have sugar but luckily I don't have to - at least for now, I still have the choice of date sugar, agave, and stevia - any one of which is a better choice than Truvia. Thanks for the information, Calorie Count, now I know one more thing to avoid.


I completely agree with kshandra.  I have been using Stevia extract (not all of those other terms for it) for years with no problem, no aftertaste.  Why take out the "rev-a"?  Why add other sweetners they may not know about?  It seems when we do this, messing with mother nature, that we run into problems...



I'm with the posters who say just use real sugar, agave or honey.

Peanut 73 - if you just keep cutting back on the sweetners (or fats) you do eventually learn to like the "plain" item.  My husband is anti-butter and after growing up with a Mom who buttered everything - I rarely use it now and love plain veggies, etc.

As for artificial sweetners - just because they are made from natural ingredients, doesn't mean they are safe.  Aspartame is made from "natural" enzymes, but they do not occur together unless chemistry is involved. 

 



Original Post by: markgravitygood

Original Post by: s0journer

Mary wrote:

"Because rebiana products are allowed to use the “natural” label, expect Reb-A products to always be true and pure."

 

Now I'm worried about who is sponsoring this site!  Don't we know that the government allows huge amounts of synthetic things to be called "natural"  as long as they are derived from a "natural" source?  I wouldn't trust something with the "All Natural" label to necessarily contain ingredients that I would consider "natural."


Obvious sarcasm is lost on some people.


As is a blatant sales pitch and in your case, good manners and respect for others...



Whey Low is a wonderful product.  They are starting to sell it in selected Whole Foods.  Taste just like sugar with only 75% of the calories and low glycemic impact.  They even make a version for diabetics.  I have been using it for about 2 years now.  No aftertaste, made from milk.



Stevia IS natural. You can grow it and use it your self to sweeten cookies or your tea. It tastes great if you use it correctly. Too much and there cn be a powerful aftertatste.



"If there's a sweet taste the body will react accordingly and when the blood sugar doesn't rise it's gets 'confused'.  No proof or anything, just my thoughts. "  No, it is not just your thoughts!  You are so RIGHT!  There have been scientific studies on this that show your body does get confused by all these artificial things!  For example, if you eat a candy bar and drink a regular soda, your body responds by producing more insulin to handle the extra sugar.  Apparently it begins this process almost as soon as it senses the "sweet" taste in your mouth.  So what has happend over the years as we have switched to "diet" sweets is that our bodies have become confused just as you have suggested.  When we first started eating the diet sweets our body tried to react to the artificial sweetners by releasing insulin, but since out body is a dynamic "learning" thing, it realized that it was dumping too much insulin, so it stopped "over reacting" and now it really is confused about what it should do.  In addtion to all this, the use of artificial sweetners has been linked to the rise in insulin resistance in a large majority of our population.  Insulin resistance is a precursor to type two diabetes in many cases!  So apparently your common sense has lead you to a conclusion that scientist already know to be true.  Its too bad that more of us don't think about these things for ourselves instead of trusting everything we are told by Uncle Sam! 



Stevia isn't artificial. I use it, and I don't use processed (white) sugar. i don't creave sweets either.

You are right. You don't have proof of anything... just YOUR THOUGHTS



Original Post by: hawgwild

Stevia isn't artificial. I use it, and I don't use processed (white) sugar. i don't creave sweets either.

You are right. You don't have proof of anything... just YOUR THOUGHTS


There is actually a lot of proof. There are years worth of scientific research proving her common sense "theory".Do some research before you go running off on someone else, yea?

Stevia, btw,  itself is natural, we are discussing the extra stuff they add and the processing to make it the way it is.

 

 



Ditto to you! The PROOF you are referring to has nothing to do with stevia. It has to do with ARTIFICIAL sweeteners.



Original Post by: niki_star

I first heard about Stevia from one of my clients who got a bottle (liquid drops) from her herbalist. I purchased a box of serving packs from my grocery store "Only Sweet - Stevia Extract" but I have been to worried about aditional ingredients to use it on a regular basis. Says it is a blend between Maltodextrin? and Stevia Leaf Extract. I am also freaked out by things that don't have experation dates... and I can't seem to find one on the box or anywhere in it... but that's my own personal problem. I would just purchase the liquid extract like my client did but her herbalist is out of the country. He lives in Japan and only travles to the states to work like two months out of the year...


I found a wonderful product in my health food store called "SweetLeaf Stevia Plus".  The ingredients are Inulin Fiber and Stevia Extract.  That's it.  Inulin is a naturally occuring fiber in plants.  It actually helps our body process calcium and it promotes the growth of intestinal bacteria.  It took a bit of getting used to (I used to be a Splenda lover until I found out what it actually had in it) and am now a loyal fan of SweetLeaf.  You can check them out at www.sweetleaf.com.  Enjoy!



I've been using Stevia for a while now in my coffee. I was using Splenda before, but it was giving me headaches. Once I got used to the taste of Stevia, I actually liked it.

It's definitely good if you're trying to lower your sugar intake or if you're a diabetic (which I also have due to one of my drugs)...or if you're trying to watch your calorie intake.



Original Post by: hawgwild

Ditto to you! The PROOF you are referring to has nothing to do with stevia. It has to do with ARTIFICIAL sweeteners.


Actually, what I am referring to is research regarding the body's reactions to sweet-tasting things in the mouth, what the body receives, and how it reacts.

Stevia IS an artificial sweetener. It may come from a natural source, but to the body, something that tastes sweet but delivers no sugar or glucose content is, for all intents and purposes, an artificial sweetener.

It doesn't matter if it is nutrasweet, splenda or stevia, EITHER WAY the body tatses something sweet, expects sugar, and gets none. NO MATTER WHAT the substance is, this reaction will happen. Yes, stevia is a natural product, and as such is much safer than the chemical cocktails available in nutrasweet and other similar sweeteners, but it will still confuse your body.

The difference here is that if you use Stevia as a general sweetener the way some use nutrasweet (diabetics, for example), you wont have a formic acid buildup or some other nasty thing (that we know of yet) that causes long lasting health effects.

I don't know why you came on here with an attitude, immediately in tone to attack other people, but you have no leg to stand on in this argument.

As someone who has completed a pre-med undergrad program and is studying in endocrinology as a specialty, not only does this make complete sense, it is supported by a lot of research. go do some.



I tried Trop 50 and decided I prefer normal orange juice.  The Trop 50 had a funny taste, and when I read the label it's basically half orange juice and half water, with a few weird things added.  I'm very glad to know what some of those things are.  From now on I'll add my own water to orange juice on the rare occasions when I think it's justified.



I love the Truvia product.  It passed my sweet iced tea test.  I still use regular sugar in baking and other products but cutting out the extra calories in my sweet tea is awesome!



I have tried this, it is quite good. Does not have that 'artificial' flavor, which I hate. Teh rice maltodextrin is a good base, but let's not forget that all the maltodextrins are simple carbs, quite close to sugar.



I was disappointed with Truvia; as with all the artificial sweeteners I've tried, I detected a bitter aftertaste. (Anybody who wants it can have the box I bought, as I won't use it anymore.) Although I'm not a supertaster, I know that everyone tastes things differently so it might taste perfectly fine to you. For my part, I don't understand how anyone tolerates the taste of artificial sweeteners -- I love sweets, but I would rather taste almost anything else . I would have to  be highly suggestible to eat or drink these things and to think that they taste OK. To me its like eating something bitter and because it's labeled "sweet", thinking that it tastes that way. I think that anyone that can tolerate the taste of artificial sweeteners should have a trusted person to taste their food for them lest they be poisoned.



Go figure! Why would they want to market Stevia when everyone else could too? Good reason to process and reprocess something natural into their definition of "natural" and get their sole right to market the product as truvia or whatever name. I guess I'll be sticking with sugar...I mean after thousands of years, we can't really go wrong with sugar.

This message was brought to you by the Sugar-Lovers-Coalition-That-Hate-Synthetic-Non-Natural-Sweet eners.



I agree with the user of "Sweet Leaf Stevia Plus", I tried many forms and now this is what I use exclusively.  It has only two ingredients, fiber and Stevia.  It comes in packets to take with you or in a shaker top bottle for home use.  I do not notice an aftertaste, but then I use any sweetner sparingly.  Everything, even natural products need to be used sparingly.  Salt is natural but use too much and your food not only tastes bad but it can raise your blood pressure and/or posion you.  For all of you sticking with sugar, two thoughts:  1. sugar is processed until it has no nutritional value. 2. with all the other "natural" sweeteners available like agave and honey, why stick with sugar?



A friend of mine sent this over to me, she is a nutritionist and I found this very helpful, there's more on crystalline fructose but probably to long to post here.  (not sure what the site is she sent it to my email).

 

Concern # 1: Erythritol

Sugar alcohols (also known as polyols) like erythritol are regulated as either GRAS or food additives. Despite the name, sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol.

They vary in sweetness from about half as sweet as sugar to equally as sweet. They’re frequently combined with other low-calorie or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, neotame, saccharin, or as in the case of VitaminWater, crystalline fructose.
The reason sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar is because they are not completely absorbed in your body. However, this fact has certain drawbacks, none of which are good.
High intakes of foods containing sugar alcohols can lead to adverse physical symptoms like abdominal gas and diarrhea. Some polyols are clearly worse than others. Sorbitol or mannitol-containing foods, for example, are so potent they must display a warning on their label stating "excess consumption may have a laxative effect."
But erythritol may offer an explanation to the many reports of ill after-effects from drinking VitaminWater, such as:
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Stomachache



For me I would rather stick with real sugar, from sugar cane if I'm going to have sugar.



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