Stevia vs Splenda
Low sugar or ‘sugar free’ diets are becoming more prevalent as the health industry becomes more aware of the ill-health effects of sugar, and particularly as the amount of added sugars in pre-prepared foods has more than doubled in the last thirty years.
The head of Amsterdam’s health authority, Paul van der Velpen, has labelled sugar as addictive and points to the links between sugar and diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases as to reasons why he believes sugar use should be regulated.
How sugar becomes addictive
When we eat sugar our blood sugar levels rise strongly and this causes an aggressive surge of insulin production (because insulin is needed by the body to ‘burn’ sugar). A lack of other nutrients to keep our blood sugar up makes it crash down quickly, and this brings on a craving for more sugar.
Sugar also causes an electrical reaction in our brain that gives pleasure, though, through evolution, it’s the sweetness that is the trigger rather than sugar per se. A healthy diet together with a good metabolism restricts our desire to continue eating when we are full: sugar’s addictive qualities negate this reaction, making us want to eat more and more (perhaps why food manufacturers have increased added sugar levels so aggressively). It is this that causes weight gain and can lead to diabetes and other health problems.
To combat this, maintaining the ‘happiness’ caused by consuming sweet foods while ridding ourselves of sugar’s harmful effects requires the use of sweeteners. Here we look at the difference between Splenda and Stevia.
Manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Splenda is made by a chemical process that combines sucrose (table sugar) with chlorine – the chemical that you use in your swimming pool. This creates sucralose, which is often then mixed with maltodextrin to cut back on the sweetness. This actually adds calories to what is sold as a no-calorie sweetener. In fact, in 2012 the makers of Splenda were sued for false health claims over its product.
Stevia is an all-natural sweetener, produced in various forms from the leaves of Stevia Rebaudiana, a Paraguayan shrub. It has been used for centuries in South America, and is the biggest selling sweetener in Japan. Stevia has also been shown to improve weight loss as part of a healthy lifestyle and contains no calories.
Splenda or Stevia?
Though the use of Stevia is relatively new, continuing medical research is beginning to show why it has been used successfully in South America for so many hundreds of years. Often Stevia is used with another ingredient so that the taste is not so intense or bitter. These additives will vary from supplier to supplier.
Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda have big question marks over them, while the health benefits of Stevia in lowering blood pressure while being used to cut down on the addictive effects of sugar are undoubted. Stevia also helps in the maintenance of a calorie controlled diet, especially if used as a sugar substitute in home cooking.
All reasons why more people every day are turning to the natural benefits of Stevia, rather than the artificial chemical sweetness of Splenda.