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The Downfall of Stevia - From Sweet Sensation to Complete Frustration

We have long been warned about the detrimental effects of having too much refined sugar in our diets.  This led to the introduction of artificial sweeteners, a solution that turned out to be just as dangerous.  Particularly when you consider the risks to your health - most notably the links to cancer.  It’s no wonder that people were begging for a safe and natural sweetener alternative. So when Stevia initially arrived, it left many of us rejoicing for what seemed like a miracle, “Finally…a safe and natural sweetener that I can trust…and calorie-free to boot!”

In many ways, Stevia is almost magical in its ability to deliver a pleasant sweetness with zero impact on blood sugar.  But without the right expertise and good intentions, it didn’t take long for that magic to turn dark.    A number of years ago, we began to see nutritional supplement companies dumping stevia into their formulas in order to make their products sweeter.  All born out of the oversimplified approach that, if a little sweet is good, then a whole lot of sweet is even better.  But as we’re finding, that’s not really the case. Stevia has become so overused, that people are now developing serious sensitivities to the ingredient.   In fact, it is one of biggest complaints related to nutritional shakes these days.  Users typically characterize the products as being “too sweet” or having an “artificial or chemical aftertaste”.  It’s become so common, that it even has a name – “stevia fatigue”.  So, yet again, this leaves consumers scratching their heads and wondering if there is an effective way to use Stevia.  Or are there other natural sweeteners that may be even better?  Perhaps the answer is balance—in other words, a blend.

The Stevia Freight Train is Difficult to Stop

It’s no surprise that Stevia has become the “go to” alternative to sugar in the world of natural products over the last decade.  When you combine its high sweetness (200 times greater than sugar) with the low cost of supply coming from China, it’s likely that the use of stevia will continue to soar in the future – both in foods and supplements.  For most companies, developing better alternatives is a costly and time-consuming process.  They either lack the expertise or don’t want to spend the incredible amount of time and money required to pioneer new ingredients.  So it’s likely that the problem will persist until we “the consumer” complains loud enough. 

At PlantFusion, we were among those complaining many years ago.  In fact, we were so frustrated that we created our own products!  And from Day One, we refused to use stevia as a primary sweetener – only using small amounts when necessary.  And we sourced our stevia from domestic suppliers who didn’t harshly treat or chemically alter the natural herb.  The response was loud and immediate!  Our fans noticed the difference right away and preferred the taste of PlantFusion.  This motivated us to research and pioneer many exciting new natural sweetener ingredients like Lucuma, a fruit grown in the upper regions of the Andes Mountains.  And Yacon, a tuberous plant naturally high in sweet prebiotic fibers.  These discoveries and others eventually led to our proprietary sweetener blend called Flavor Pure™, which ultimately freed us and our fans from the epidemic of “stevia fatigue”.

 

Are You Stevia Fatigued?

Stevia fatigue is real, and if you’re sensitive to sweetness like me, you may have it too. When I read an ingredient list and see that Stevia is the only sweetener listed, I have to mentally prepare myself for a long-list of uncomfortable symptoms;

  • Sneezing with a runny nose
  • Stomach cramping
  • Occasional feelings of weakness.

Regardless of what amazing health benefits the other ingredients in the product may have, these unpleasant side effects are generally enough to scare me away.  However, when Stevia is listed as a secondary ingredient, or in conjunction with other natural sweeteners it is much easier to tolerate.  Very often I experience no side effects whatsoever.

Balance is key. When balanced with other plant-based sweeteners and prebiotic fibers, Stevia can add wonderful sweetness to a product without the unnecessary drawbacks.

When it Comes to Natural Sweeteners, the “Recipe” Matters.

Just as there are different varieties of plants and fruits, the same goes with natural sweeteners. Natural sweeteners each have their own taste profile and different flavor attributes that make them unique.  This is exactly why they are best used in combination with one another in order to bring out their beneficial qualities and taste.  

Think about how many different varieties of apples there are at the local organic market – Gala, McIntosh, Empire, Fuji, etc. Each different type of apple provides unique blend of sweetness, bitterness, texture, and crisp. Everyone has their own recipe for making an apple pie, whether it’s downloaded from the internet or passed down for many generations.  You’ve probably noticed that some pies turn out sweeter, others more tart, some have crispier apple pieces, and some have a softer filling.  True they are all apple pies, but they all have vast differences in flavor, sweetness and texture due to the particular variety of apples being used.  Most often, the best recipes and best tasting apple pies usually use a combination of different apple varieties for a balanced flavor.

This very same approach influenced the development of our Flavor Pure™ blend.  Using a combination of natural sweeteners helps create a balance of flavor to accentuate the benefits of these sweeteners while eliminating offnotes.  Who knew that the same approach that is used to make a great apple pie could also be used to make a great protein shake! 

PlantFusion Quick-Reference Guide for Natural Sweeteners

Not sure what natural alternative sweeteners are right for you? We put together this quick reference guide.  In addition to Stevia, we’ve included Yacon Root, Lucuma Fruit, Monk Fruit, Raw Honey and Agave Syrup.  We wanted to see how they stack up against Stevia and each other, so we rated them.  Five (5) stars is the highest, one (1) star the lowest:

 

Stevia    


Pros

  • Widely available in liquid and powder form
  • Used sparingly because 200 times sweeter than sugar
  • Stevia is affordable (which is also why it tends to be overused)
  • Can be used in baking
  • Zero calories and zero carbohydrates
  • Minimal digestive upset

 

Yacon Root  


Pros

  • Eaten and used for medicinal purposes in South America
  • A natural sweetener
  • Contains about 40-50% inulin and fructooligosacchardes (FOS), prebiotic fibers
  • Feeds healthy gut bacteria
  • Helps reduce obesity
  • Improves blood sugar and insulin resistance
  • Reduces bad cholesterol, hunger and constipation
  • Increases metabolism


Lucuma Fruit


Pros

  • Celebrated as a symbol of fertility in Peru
  • Loaded with vitamins, calcium and protein
  • Great source of potassium for muscle recovery
  • Helps fight aging
  • Supports cardiovascular health, skin health and blood sugar levels
  • Low glycemic index
  • Great addition to shakes, smoothies and baked goods

 


Monk Fruit


Pros


  • Has zero calories and zero carbs
  • Low glycemic
  • 150-250 times sweeter than refined white sugar
  • Reduces risk of obesity and diabetes
  • High in antioxidants to fight free radicals
  • Works as an anti-inflammatory
  • No known side effects

 

 


Raw Honey 


Pros

  • Loaded with essential nutrients
  • Promotes gut health
  • One tablespoon of raw honey has 64 calories

 


Agave Powder                 


Pros

  • Sweeter than sugar
  • Widely available

 

When It Comes to Natural Sweeteners, It’s All About Balance!

When considering your options for natural sweetener, it seems clear which ones offer the best characteristics and which ones you should use sparingly.

 

Best for You

  1. Yacon Root
  2. Lucuma Fruit
  3. Monk Fruit

 

Better but not the Best for You

  1. Stevia

 

Better than Refined Sugar

  1. Raw Honey
  2. Agave Syrup

Like most things in life, when it comes to your health and maintaining a healthy diet, it’s all about balance.  Stevia used in small amounts or with other natural sweeteners, like those found in PlantFusion Flavor Pure™ Blend, can create an amazing flavor experience without stevia fatigue.

Don’t take our word for it. Try a free sample of our new Natural Flavor Complete Protein that is now Stevia Free !

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1 comment

  • Anxious to try it

    JoNell Backman

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