Is stevia better than artificial sweeteners?

Like artificial sweeteners, stevia is a low calorie, sweeter alternative to table sugar. However, many folks prefer stevia because its active ingredient, rebaudioside A (Reb A), comes from a natural source.

Does that make it a better choice? Maybe. Maybe not. The verdict’s out.

What we can tell you is that most commercially available stevia products are a combination of the stevia extract Reb A and other ingredients, such as “natural flavors”, dextrose and erythritol.

Most people don’t think twice about these additives, but they can worsen GI symptoms in susceptible individuals. For example, erythritol can inhibit fructose absorption resulting in gas, bloating and diarrhea. “Natural flavors” can mean pretty much anything so it’s a gamble if you’ll tolerate them or not.

Also, research shows that Reb A impacts the gut microbiota in mice. Should we be concerned? Maybe. Maybe not.

We suspect that a little stevia is probably fine but if you feel funny afterwards, then stevia may be to blame. You might try a more expensive liquid stevia without additives or sticking with small amounts of natural sweeteners, like pure maple syrup or honey.

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