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Stevia is the new Snow

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In honor of winter, which brings along everyone’s favorite white powder (unless you’re lucky enough to live in Miami…), today’s post is about a different sort of white powder: Stevia

What are your thoughts on sugar?

I’ll go first: I’m a bit wary of including a lot of sugar in my diet, not because of the calories (if anything, I try to eat as many calories as I can, not as few), but because of how sugar made me feel in the past. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t think sugar can be part of a healthy diet.


Why is sugar perceived to be so bad?

The media gives a bad name to sugar, but the truth is that if one isn’t trying to lose weight (and even if one is), there is absolutely no harm in including some sugar in one’s everyday diet.  Sure, it’s devoid of nutrition, but that doesn’t mean it has negative nutrition (as long as you brush your teeth thoroughly).  Also, some sugars, like maple syrup and blackstrap molasses do have nutritional value. Blackstrap molasses is an exceptionally-high source of iron, and it also contains calcium, potassium, copper, and magnesium. In other words, it’s a super sugar!

The main reason people are told to cut back on sugar is that they eat sugary foods instead of nutrient-dense ones.  But unless you have diabetes or another such illness, I’d argue that as long as you’re getting enough nutrients in your diet, there’s nothing wrong with eating non-nutritious, sugary foods too.  Sugar may not help you get in more nutrients, but it certainly won’t hurt you or take away the nutrients you are getting. (I’m not a doctor, so take my opinion with a grain of salt sugar ;).)

What about artificial sweeteners?

I admit that I don’t have much experience with these.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever tried Splenda or any products containing it.  My only encounters with artificial sweeteners: When I was younger, I hated soda (still do); therefore, at restaurants, my habit was to order iced tea.  My mom told me that Sweet-n-Low dissolved better than regular sugar in iced tea, so I’d use that.  But I kept getting stomach aches, so my doctor recommended I try nixing the Sweet-n-Low.  Surprise: the stomach aches went away!  Maybe it was a coincidence, but maybe–on the other hand–my stomach was trying to tell me that people aren’t supposed to ingest dangerous chemicals in place of real food!

What about stevia?  Is it safe?

As I said before, I’m not a doctor, so I can only tell you my opinion.  I’ve heard the lab-rat studies that claim to show stevia is unsafe.  But honestly, I think those studies are flawed because the rats were fed HUGE amounts of stevia, and anything in such a high quantity will produce negative results.  (Did you know that too much broccoli can cause acid poisoning?  Or that too much cinnamon damages the liver?)  Stevia, an herb, has been used for centuries in South America and Japan to sweeten teas and other foods, without evidence of harm.  So looking at historical evidence, it seems as if stevia—when used sparingly—is harmless.

Next up:

Ways I use sugar, followed by ways I use stevia.  Without much of a sweet tooth, I don’t really use much of either.  But I feel that there’s a place for both in a healthy diet.  Variety is the spice of life, right?  Well, that and some good-quality onion powder ;).

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Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 

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  1. I used to drink sugar-free sodas sweetened with aspartame. Coincidentally, I had killer headaches every day. I finally made the connection and stopped drinking the sugar-free sodas, and the headaches went away. It was then that I decided if I were going to drink a soda, I’d drink a soda. (I’ve now been off sodas since 1/15, thanks to having surgery and deciding it was a perfect time to quit drinking them.)

    I used Splenda a few times, but it just never tasted the same to me, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it was doing to my body.

    Stevia I love. I use it occasionally in a tisane. Other than that, though, I just prefer to use sugar or agave or maple syrup, something real instead of something that comes out of a lab.

  2. Run Sarah says:

    I enjoy Stevia in cocoa or vitamin water on occasion. I actually have always hated the taste of other artificial sweeteners so I rarely drink diet pop.

  3. Abby says:

    One of my favorite things about your blog is that it’s so refreshing how you take the time to write your OWN opinions on subjects, instead of just copying and pasting facts from other sources.
    So like today, you could have just copied stuff about stevia from the internet like I see so many other sites do, but you took the time to write your own, well thought out facts and opinions. You really have a talent for writing, Katie.
    It’s always a joy to read what you have to say.

  4. Jenny says:

    like anything — I think artificial sweeteners are just dandy in moderation. I try to limit myself to two packets of truvia per day… and i’m still alive – so I think they’re safe 😉

    happy hump day peaches!

  5. candice says:

    I did a research paper on stevia for my chemistry class. Personally, I don’t have a problem with it. Like you said, those rats had be fed huge amounts of the stevia extracts—more than any human could or would want to consume—before they experienced negative effects. I wouldn’t use it extensively, but a little bit here and there certainly won’t hurt!

    Oh, but I’m guilty of chewing sugar-free gum. It’s my life line during boring classes… I can’t help it. 😉

  6. joy says:

    I do use artificial sweeteners quite a bit but I prefer the stevia over splenda mostly!

  7. psychoj1 says:

    I do not have any problem with stevia! But the thought of eating something as artificial or splenda…that kind of scares me!
    <3 jess

  8. I’m off artificial sweeteners now, though until last summer I was definitely a Diet Coke addict. Now it tastes gross to me, so that just goes to show bad habits can be broken! I use stevia in my coffee, but that’s about it. It doesn’t taste *quite* right to me, and occasionally it has bothered my throat. But as you point out, a little bit of anything probably isn’t going to hurt us, so I think unless I go dumping mountains of stevia all over everything I eat, I’ll be fine.

    And YEAH YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT’S CARROT CAKE DAY!!! The happiest news I’ve gotten this week! Although I wish I’d realized it in advance–now I’m not sure how to get my carrot cake fix. I’m short on time today! Not sure when I’ll find the time to make a Carrot Katie…I mean, Carrot CAKE inspired recipe! 😉

  9. the vegster says:

    I definitely prefer chocolates as my “sweets”, don’t you? 😛

    I try to limit my sugar intake as well, though sugars in fruits are great. A small dessert-type snack every now and then makes me feel like I’m not depriving myself but I don’t consume sodas or sugary/processed foods.

    I’m definitely a hater of artificial sugars (and fake anything really) because of how they are made – they are not natural and they can definitely harm your body if you eat consume them regularly. I don’t believe the body knows how to process them and stores in as fat instead. If you accidentally ingest a little bit, no it’s not going to kill you, but on a regular basis, who knows? There really aren’t any long-term studies on their effects.

    I do enjoy a little bit of stevia every now and then, though it has to be completely pure (unfortunately the NuNaturals has maltodextrin which is too processed for me – sadness!). Even then I still don’t consume copious amounts of it. I prefer raw honey or agave as my sweeteners of choice 🙂


  10. Marina says:

    Well, I avoid sugar and sweeteners, but when I use something, I usually use maple syrup, or honey, or brown sugar, although I know it’s the same as white. I am definitely intrigued with stevia, I’ve seen it a lot around blogosphere lately. And about artifical stuff, I avoid it pretty much. I’ve heard some bad stuff about it, and I don’ have any wish or need to use it 🙂

  11. tabitha says:

    i think artificial sweetners are evil
    and i think regular sugar is pretty bad too
    it’s highly processed and is cancer’s favorite food
    it has drug like effects on many people and it bad for your overall health

    i love it
    i’m trying to get off it 🙂

  12. Jessica says:

    I rarely use artificial sweeteners, but believe everything is fine in moderation. 🙂

  13. I’m not against artificial sugars- but if you wouldn’t eat the real thing, why are you eating the fake thing?

    The real thing might be bad for your waistline (when consumed too much) among other things; but artificial sweeteners are bad for everything else.

    [just so we’re clear- I sometimes get sugar free vanilla in my coffee- so I’m not trying to preach- but I often wonder this to myself]

  14. Katie says:

    I used to drink alot of diet soda. But, it gave me headaches and I wasn’t any thinner. I don’t drink soda now, but every now and then I’ll have a regular soda. Soda is bad for you, period whether it is diet or not.
    I tried splenda and it caused severe gastrointenstinal distress (I’ll spare the details). Most things containing splenda have this warning on the packaging.
    I have a real sweet tooth, so I try to sweeten things with dates, raw honey, or raw agave. I use organic Florida crystals in my coffee. Other than that..
    I have been interested in stevia after hearing so much about it, but I’m scared to try anything that isn’t natural. Can’t wait to hear your reviews!

  15. Katie says:

    I am really on the fence on this issue. I LOVE sugar (see my mean sweet tooth posts… 😀 ), but I also try to limit it in my diet, because I get mad headaches. I always cut the sugar by at least half in all the recipes I make. I also really love stevia, but sometimes the flavor can be a little too much. I found that if you add in double the vanilla in baked goods, it can mask the stevia flavor.
    Artificial sweeteners? The science is so mixed (and as a scientist I view all the studies with a very critical eye), but anytime there is even some evidence for bad effects, I take note. I can’t give up my sugar free gum though! 😀

  16. Yasmin says:

    I’ve learned to not trust artificial sweeteners since there are studies still being conducted on its tie to cancer risks. Stevia I’ve never tried but would love to try since it’s natural.

  17. Evan Thomas says:

    I love this topic
    Sugar– I try to limit it as much as possible, because no matter what form(white, powdered, brown, agave nectar, etc.) it’s still just empty carbs. But of course it makes things tastier so I give in(a bit)
    Stevia- I love it. I had a stevia plant that died. I use it to sweeten as much as I can.
    Artificial sweeteners– I haven’t touched them since Summer, and I never want to again. That being said, I don’t see them as a bad thing for an overweight America.

  18. I’m not a huge fan of stevia. Even though it’s totally natural, it tastes fake to me. I’ve been trying to limit unrefined sugar intake (I don’t eat any white sugar unless I’m eating out or at a potluck), but I’ve not so well with it. I do notice my body feels different when my blood sugar spikes after eating sugar. But the delicious taste is kinda worth it. 🙂

  19. I have banned all artificial sweeteners from my body. I have yet to try Stevia but would love to give it a try!
    I use agave or organic honey if I need to sweeten anything up.

  20. Kara says:

    I agree with you Katie. Why is white sugar seen as the devil? It’s not a chemical. People need to realize that a bit of white sugar is much better for them than some scary chemicals! It’s always amazing to me that people will shun sugar like the plague but down copious amounts of splenda and sucralose!

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