View Full Version : Is There A Safe, Low Calorie Sweetener?

12-28-12, 06:50 AM
Dr Michael Greger
December 26 2012

The natural sweetener erythritol does not appear to carry the adverse effects associated with other low and non-caloric natural and artificial sweeteners and may actually have antioxidant potential. For a while it was only available in Japan but now it’s becoming more accessible. It’s found naturally in pears and grapes, but industrially we have yeast make it for us. It doesn’t cause cavities and hasn’t been implicated in some of the disorders tied to other sweeteners such as fibromyalgia (see my video Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/aspartame-induced-fibromyalgia/)), preterm birth (Diet Soda and Preterm Birth (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/diet-soda-and-preterm-birth/)), headaches, hypertension, brain disorders, and platelet disorders (see A Harmless Artificial Sweetener (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/a-harmless-artificial-sweetener/)).
What about stevia? The jury is finally in. The reason it’s been such a long time coming is that research out of Japan in the ’90s found that steviosides, the active ingredient in stevia, appeared totally harmless, but in the guts of rats intestinal bacteria transformed steviosides into something called steviol, which is toxic, causing a big spike in mutagenic DNA damage (see the graph in Is Stevia Good For You? (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-stevia-good-for-you/)). So the question was do we have those same rat bacteria in our guts, and it turns out we do. So we now know that when we eat stevia, mutagenic compounds are produced in our colons and absorbed into our bloodstream. The only remaining question was how much.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/erythritol-the-only-safe-low-calorie-sweetener.html#ixzz2GLJ0K7f2

12-28-12, 12:45 PM
That one study on rats with stevia is from back in the 90s and further, extensive testing in Japan has never born it out. "Following extensive research, Dr. Daniel Mowrey MD, Herbalist and renowned scientist, reported: "More elaborate safety tests were performed by the Japanese during their evaluation of Stevia as a possible sweetening agent. Few substances have ever yielded such consistently negative results in toxicity trials as have Stevia. Almost every toxicity test imaginable has been performed on Stevia extract [concentrate] or stevioside at one time or another. The results are always negative. No abnormalities in weight change, food intake, cell or membrane characteristics, enzyme and substrate utilization, or chromosome characteristics. No cancer, no birth defects, no acute and no chronic untoward effects. Nothing."

As to erythritol, it is made from WHEAT or CORN starch so I would not call it safe for anyone with gluten sensitivity. Before I knew this, I tried it and had horrible reactions. Also, although this article claims it does not have the adverse reactions found with other sugar alcohols, many people would beg to differ. Something else to keep in mind about sugar alcohols is that they are not inert and they do raise blood sugar. Certain bacteria in the intestines can utilize sugar alcohols possibly causing proliferation of "bad" bacteria and intestinal inflammation.

12-28-12, 02:56 PM
Anyone care to comment on xylitol (the one derived from birch), which I have never tried? I have never seen it in small enough sizes to spend for a sample.

12-28-12, 03:46 PM
I know that I react to it if I use xylitol. I am fine with liquid stevia but not powdered stevia.

12-28-12, 04:37 PM
I have tried Xylitol. It creates gastric distress for me, even in small amounts in food. I do use a Xylitol gum, but only when i'm working so i don't use a lot. From what has been said here, most commercially sold Xylitol is not made from birch any more. Usually it has been made from corn. I've never seen any made from wheat.

I do use Xylitol for a toothpowder. I mix it 60/40 with baking soda. I use a tiny amount of Miessence mint toothpaste (http://vjcorganics.miessence.com/products/productDetail.jsf?item=13101), and dip the toothbrush in the powder. I've tried making my own paste with poor success. The Miessence is expensive, and it has too much baking soda flavor to it for me. Adding the Xylitol/baking soda powder stretches the toothpaste and give me a hint of mint flavor, the Xylitol helps it be a little sweet and cuts the baking soda taste. I've never had a problem using Xylitol in this fashion. Xylitol is suppose to be very good for oral health, and of course, i don't swallow toothpaste/toothpowder.

I love Stevia! I've tried most of the brands. Sweetleaf is okay, but my favorite is KAL brand (http://www.nutraceutical.com/about/brands/kal.cfm). In fact, i like most of KAL's supplements. KAL does not have the aftertaste that so many of the others do. I try to use Stevia for most of our sweetening, and i'm trying to resolve my sweet tooth. Sigh.

12-30-12, 01:15 PM
Really, what is so wrong about a small amount of good old fashioned cane sugar once in a while? Don't know where the Stevia (liquid or powder) in Oz comes from ( containers say 'made from local and imported products) but both forms available here have an unpleasant aftertaste.

12-30-12, 02:38 PM
As a diabetic who is trying to lower her A1c to 4.5 without meds, "a small amount of good old fashioned cane sugar" is toxic. I do enjoy sweetness once in a while. I use NOW brand powdered stevia, which I'm sure you can order online. It has no aftertaste. It's what I use to sweeten Katee's pumpkin pie (sans crust) in the Kitchen forum.

12-30-12, 03:27 PM
I know you make relishes and chutneys Islander. What do you use in place of sugar for these? I love relishes and chutneys and have about ten different home made ones to choose from and growing. I usually halve or more the sugar in the recipes when I make them. For a long time I was intolerant of vinegar but with the supplement regime I have been using, that intolerance has disappeared 339 and I am able to indulge my love of chutneys again. I find the commercially made ones are far too sweet.

12-30-12, 05:57 PM
I use relatively little sugar in those; the herbs & spices carry the flavor (e.g. cayenne, mustard seed, tamarind & the natural sweetness of fruits & peels). I do use refined sugar in jams and preserves, but those go out as gifts or barter; I consume almost none.
I recall with regret my former favorite breakfast, one I could have eaten every day of the week: one fresh egg over very easy, with a slice of homade white toast, home-churned butter and homade apple jelly. Aaaaaahhh... the toast & jelly have been missing for 6 years, gone but not forgotten!

12-30-12, 06:17 PM
Don't know where the Stevia (liquid or powder) in Oz comes from ( containers say 'made from local and imported products) but both forms available here have an unpleasant aftertaste.

Stevia is a plant, you can grow it in your own back yard.

12-30-12, 10:51 PM
Right, I had a greenhouse/nursery business and grew it/sold it, but it won't grow in my Zone 4 backyard! Also, the fresh leaf has a licorice-like aftertaste that I find unpleasant. I prefer the flavored liquids or powdered packets.

12-31-12, 02:10 AM
I've never had good success with the stevia plant until this summer. Had one that grew in a pot on our porch fairly well. It never got huge or bushy, but it didn't die and was growing slowly.

The person who sold it to me told me that they do not do well indoors, which was my experience. Still, i was curious. Bought two. The one inside died, the one outside did okay.

I planned to try to make an extract from it (like when you put vanilla beans in alcohol), but haven't done it. I have the dried leaves currently. This was just an experiment for me, to see what the taste of a home-grown stevia extract would turn out.

Our hardiness zone here is 6b: -5F to 0F. Where i grew up in Montana is 3b: -35F to -30F. But this hardly tells the full story. We actually have a shorter growing season here in So Cal mountains than in Western Montana, and our summers are much cooler. Where i grew up was at 4,800 ft above sea level. We currently live at 6,950.

I do have organic sugar (cane) here in the house. However, i have it on hand mostly to make kombucha. This past month i've used it some to make holiday cookies. Frankly, a mistake. These are the changes i've noticed in having a "small amount of organic cane sugar":

- Both Duane and i have been much moodier than normal, meaning i tend to cry which is unusual for me, and i've been depressed and obsessive. We both have shorter tempers and are much more grumpy.

- I've not used sunglasses in years, since i began eating healthier. I've noticed that Duane, who was never without sunglasses before, has not been needing them this past year or so, especially since he gave up gluten at Lent this past year and decided to remain GF when Lent was past. However, the last 2 trips we took off the mountain (usually once a week, and we've been eating the sugar since about mid-December) we are both much more light-sensitive.

- I'm hungry more, and craving, craving, craving sweets. I think even Duane is having this too, as he asks for those cookies like asking for crack, or something.

- My pain level is up. My sleep is poorer, i wake earlier with eyes that ache.

There are probably more things i could point to, if i thought about it.

Stevia allows me to satisfy my sweet tooth to a point, without having to resort to the poison of sugar. Since the sugar i use is organic, (and some of it was coconut sugar which is suppose to be "healthy") i was amazed at the number of negative reactions i had to it.

12-31-12, 10:24 PM
Really, what is so wrong about a small amount of good old fashioned cane sugar once in a while? Don't know where the Stevia (liquid or powder) in Oz comes from ( containers say 'made from local and imported products) but both forms available here have an unpleasant aftertaste.

Sorry, should have clarified again, I meant for people without diabetes, normal BSL and not insulin resistant. Thanks for pointing out the fact of diabetes Islander.