Weight Loss Support - Stevia or Splenda???




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tubolard
10-08-2012, 10:41 AM
I stopped drinking diet soda a few weeks ago, I switched to crystal light and kool-aid with splenda for sweetening. I was wondering if stevia is better for you than splenda. I am slowly going to wean off of sweetened drinks but for now, well, I need something sweet (baby steps). I lean toward stevia being better but I am not sure. I have very early kidney problems so I know I need to stop the sweeteners altogether but until I get there I would like to try to lessen the damage.

That is so clear in my head and so garbled when I type it. :o


Arctic Mama
10-08-2012, 12:56 PM
I like stevia and use it whenever I can, especial in drinks or baked goods. But Splenda in moderation (in a few sugar free desserts or storebought things) is fine for me, too. I try to limit my artificial sweets down to a serving a day or so, but I've never counted stevia toward that total because I notice no physiological impact when I drink it, unlike Splenda or aspartame.

For sugar free sweeteners, I prefer Erythritol over Splenda. But stevia powder and liquid definitely gets the most daily use.

tubolard
10-08-2012, 01:56 PM
Thanks for your response. I bought stevia and am going to see if I feel better on that. I wonder sometimes if my headaches are caused by the splenda I use.


LaurieDawn
10-08-2012, 08:36 PM
I also prefer Stevia. I actually choose sugar over Splenda. I used it Stevia in my decaf green tea for a while, but honestly, I prefer it sweetener-free now. Surprised me, but happy about it. :-)

twinieten
10-08-2012, 10:50 PM
Stevia is a much better choice. It's a natural sweetener, at least, but the taste reminds me of saccharin. I prefer Splenda any day of the week for sweetness. I will, however, choose the Stevia if given the choice.

tubolard
10-09-2012, 10:00 AM
Thanks for more input. I really enjoy hearing (reading?) everyone's ideas and opinions. :)

Elladorine
10-09-2012, 02:27 PM
I <3 stevia! I have no adverse affects from it and use it daily in my smoothies. I use Splenda in moderate amounts if it's in something that's pre-packaged. :)

I know you didn't ask about aspartame, but I avoid it completely. A few years back I started getting severe migraines and it took months to figure out why I'd be unable to get out of bed for a week at time. Most diet drinks and a lot of low-calorie processed foods contain it so I always read labels and tend to avoid processed foods period.

kaplods
10-09-2012, 03:03 PM
I'm not convinced that stevia is safer than Splenda or aspartame. Herbal products have to be proven unsafe before they are taken off the market, while artificial products have to be proven safe to be put on the market.

The only studies I could find on stevia's safety found reproductive organ birth defects in lab rodents born to mothers fed stevia.

The herb has a long history of apparent safe use, but not in the quantity or form the extract is being used.

I'm not too concerned about stevia because I'm not going to be having any children, and I don't use it frequently enough to be concerned, but I'm not convinced that it is any safer than other low-calorie sweeteners.

I actually prefer sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol as sweeteners, because they don't seem to increase my appetite as many sweeteners do, and there's more incentive for using moderation. They tend to cause gas and diarrhea if eaten in excess, but I don't have problems with it in small amounts.

I do use aspartame and Splenda as well, because I believe that using a wide variety of sweeteners is actually safer and better healthwise than eating too much of any one sweetener, and I think that's true whether the sweetener is question is natural or artificial.

I also like that most sweeteners have a synergistic effect with other sweeteners, so I can use less sweetener to achieve my desired level of sweetness if I use two or more sweeteners rather than one.

tubolard
10-10-2012, 10:27 AM
:book2:I read about the reproductive issues too, but I am not planning anymore children (2 kinds of birth control), the page I read said that it was in lab rats but wasn't supposed to damage humans that way. I just want to use it to wean down to only water so hopefully I won't be using it for long. I switched to stevia yesterday and I don't have a headache today, I have been having constant headaches for weeks.
Kaplods, where and what do you read?! :book2: You are always chock full of information about all kinds of stuff, and always give such good advice and information!

kaplods
10-11-2012, 08:56 PM
Kaplods, where and what do you read?! :book2: You are always chock full of information about all kinds of stuff, and always give such good advice and information!

I'm a compulsive reader, so I read everything, everwhere. If I see print, I can't not read it, from cereal boxes to billboards.

I'm a very rapid reader, and on a sick day (when I have nothing better to do, but read), I can read easily read 900 pages of text in a day. It's not unusual for me to read three or four books in a day.

Weight loss topics especially interest me, so I do read most of the diet best sellers, and if the authors cite research, I will usually go to the actual research articles to read at least a few of the studies being cited to make sure that I agree with the author's interpretation of the research.

Likewise when I hear or read about new weight loss research, I usually try to find the original published research article or at least the abstract (it's astonishing how often the report of the research bears little resemblence to the actual research).

sensualappeal
10-12-2012, 05:45 PM
I never eat Splenda - it's artificial. I LOVE stevia though - it's natural and has less of an impact on my blood sugar (supposedly anyway) and I love that you don't have to use a lot to get it sweetened.

Prestige
10-12-2012, 06:07 PM
I've tried both... But I actually prefer Truvia to Stevia. I don't know if you've ever heard of that. But I use that in my smoothies.

Skellig19
10-12-2012, 06:25 PM
I never eat Splenda - it's artificial. I LOVE stevia though - it's natural and has less of an impact on my blood sugar (supposedly anyway) and I love that you don't have to use a lot to get it sweetened.

Stevia is indeed natural if you are eating the leaves or preparing it at home. The powdered form so popular right now is just as processed if not more as regular white cane sugar. Keep that in mind when touting the benefits of natural vs. artificial. I personally enjoy both Stevia and Splenda though I understand the composition of Splenda more than Stevia so I use it more in my baking and everyday eating.

Aspartame can indeed cause headaches in some (which is why there are small warnings on items that contain it) as it is an allergic reaction. However, from what I've read it is one of the most researched and studied sweeteners on the market. The idea that aspartame is the cause of a lot of ailments has not been proven and the opposite has been proven, that it does NOT cause these diseases. That idea was wrongfully sent in a chain email many years ago. Human beings are psychologically pre-dispose to rely on word of mouth rather than some stranger scientist publishing a report...hence aspartame is the devil being a widely accepted "truth". I personally choose not to consume the packet form of aspartame due to the flavour. I will drink diet coke and sugar free gum to my hearts content though!

CherryPie99
10-12-2012, 09:43 PM
My hubby is also an obsessive researcher and tells me that Truvia is the best so that's what we use. Although we don't use a lot of artificial sweetners in general.

tubolard
10-13-2012, 12:04 PM
I read a lot, too much probably, but it seems like every page or site I read contradicts the next one. It get so confusing sometimes. I think they do it on purpose because they don't quite know what the truth is, lol.

kaplods
10-13-2012, 02:12 PM
Natural doesn't mean safe, and artificial doesn't mean unsafe. Yes, it's a good rule of thumb to eat foods in their most natural forms (in most cases), but there are many notable exceptions.

There are many foods that are unsafe (in some cases toxic) in their most "natural" forms. Acorns, legumes, potatoes, eggplant, taro.... must be cooked to remove the toxins.

Cooking is a form of processing (though a low-level one).

Many entirely natural herbs are highly poisonous, and many foods that people have eaten for thousands (if not millions) of years have toxic effects despite their "natural" origins.

Mustard oil for example is banned for edible consumption in the EU, USA and Canada, because of its erucic acid content. The USFDA requires all mustard oil to be labelled "For External Use Only", because erucic acid is known to cause accumulation of triglycerides in the heart; development of fibriotic lesions of the heart; increase in risk of lung cancer; and anaemia.

Legumes and grains contain "anti-nutrients" that actually leach other nutrients from the body.

There are countless other examples in which "natural" foods that humans have eaten for centuries (or longer) have potentially deadly consequences if eaten in excess (and excess is pretty much determined by whether or not a person experiences those consequences).

In some ways "artificial" ingredients can be safer than natural ones, because in the USA an artificial ingredient must be proven safe before it can enter the marketplace, while an herbal product has to be proven unsafe (and usually VERY unsafe) before it can be taken off the market.

That doesn't mean artificial foods are better than natural foods, but it also doesn't mean that any artificial food is inherently less safe just because it's not natural.

It's human nature though to want simplified "rules" to live by, because it's easier and more convenient to apply to real life situations than it is to research each food/substance before purchasing and using.

It's ironic that people are more concerned with food safety than with environmental toxins which present a much larger health threat. Eating a pound of aspartame a day is probably safer than living in a modern home, using ordinary household chemicals (natural and manmade) and using ordinary cosmetics and fragrances.

It's human nature (probably biologically hard-wired) to be concerned with food (because it's something we have complete control over) and yet to be unconcerned with the deadly natural and artificial chemicals that we live with every day.

Cleaning up my diet has had very impressive health benefits, but not nearly as impressive (by far) as has eliminating environmental toxins (many considered "safe" only because they've been in use for hundreds of years, such as ammonia, which is a natural substance, derived from animal urine, and it's extremely harmful to the lungs).


I was diagnosed with asthma on the verge of copd and had a mystery autoimmune disease damaging my joints, skin, nose cartilage, and lungs...

Removing environmental irritants (natural and artificial) and seeing such dramatic health improvements got me very interested in environmental contaminants, and I was shocked at how many carcinogens and other unhealthy substances we live with every day, without a clue (and which no one seems to be concerned with except a few extremist researchers and "health nuts").

And these substances are KNOWN to cause severe health effects, and yet no one seems to notice or care, because of the perceived "need" for sofa cushions, insulation, fragrances, cosmetics, laundry softeners, oven cleaners....

It's hard to wrap our minds around the fact though that stuff we live with and put on our skin can be more dangerous than what we put in our mouths, so people will continue to obsess over the safety of a food additive and ignore potential carcinogens and poisons because we're not ingesting them (only we are, because we're inhaling the toxins or absorbing them through our skin).

Researching the potential dangers of foods, household products, cosmetics, fragrances... is time consuming, frightening, and overwhelming (you can't avoid everything that's harmful so where do you start and what's most important?), and so most people avoid the information seeking entirely and instead rely on common media and word-of-mouth (without verifying the reputation or truthfulness of their sources) and grossly simplified guidelines they can apply to their life... such as "natural" vs. "artificial."

If you aren't able or willing to do the information-gathering and fact-checking, then these oversimplified guidelines probably are better than nothing. Most natural foods probably are better than most artificial ones, especially if you're eating a wide variety, but it concerns me that as a nation, we're all very concerned about what we're eating (which is good, although much of what we think we know about nutrition is wrong), and yet generally we have virtually no awareness of much more dangerous toxins we're exposing ourselves and our children to because we're not aware of any danger whatsoever.

And what concerns me the most is that many of these toxins and dangers are coming from products we're using in an effort to make our environment "safer" when we're actually doing the opposite when we're using household cleaners, fragrances, skin-care products, and sanitizers).

Desiderata
10-13-2012, 02:46 PM
My one caveat to your thorough and thoughtful post, kaplods, is that stevia has a bit different history when it comes to FDA oversight than other natural items. And frankly, the review-lite stamp of GRAS applies to many chemical and man-made items, not just all-natural ones. (So I'm not disagreeing that there aren't huge issues with FDA approval, but I disagree natural additives are treated more permissively than chemically engineered items.)

For a couple decades, stevia could barely get sold - relegated only to health food stores and as a "dietary supplement" only; it was absolutely not allowed to be marketed as a sweetener, thanks to immense pressure from corporations on the FDA. The sea change only occurred when same mega-corporations, like Cargill, realized stevia could be a cash cow for them just as much as the blue/pink/yellow packets, and they began to pour their money into R & D and marketing.

I'm actually a bit more suspicious of Truvia and the other corporate, chemically-engineered derivatives of stevia than I am of straight extracts of the plant itself. People should realize at least that many of the most common / most marketed stevia products (like Truvia) have been chemically altered. If one's not concerned with artificial sweeteners to begin with, this might not cause much alarm -- but I don't think Truvia and the like really should be considered "natural" alternatives. They're merely trading on the perception to make more money.

Anway - just wanted to throw more shades of nuance into the discussion. You laid out great points about the context of toxin exposure from food additives v. greater environmental factors! I share your amazement re: household and beauty products. People worry so much about organic food, but sometimes don't stop to think about the skin being our largest organ. So many medications are delivered transdermally now - but we don't always think about what we're absorbing from other creams or lotions...

kaplods
10-13-2012, 03:44 PM
My one caveat to your thorough and thoughtful post, kaplods, is that stevia has a bit different history when it comes to FDA oversight than other natural items. And frankly, the review-lite stamp of GRAS applies to many chemical and man-made items, not just all-natural ones. (So I'm not disagreeing that there aren't huge issues with FDA approval, but I disagree natural additives are treated more permissively than chemically engineered items.)

For a couple decades, stevia could barely get sold - relegated only to health food stores and as a "dietary supplement" only; it was absolutely not allowed to be marketed as a sweetener, thanks to immense pressure from corporations on the FDA. The sea change only occurred when same mega-corporations, like Cargill, realized stevia could be a cash cow for them just as much as the blue/pink/yellow packets, and they began to pour their money into R & D and marketing.
...

You're correct that stevia couldn't be sold as a sweetener until recently, but it was quite easily and commonly sold as a "dietary supplement." So I disagree completely that it "could barely get sold." It could quite easily be sold by anyone who wanted to sell it as a diatary supplement. Grocery stores COULD have sold it (and many did), they just couldn't sell it as a sweetener (in my experience, anyone who had heard of it, also knew how and where to get it since the 1970's).

A current analog is mustard seed oil, which can not be sold as a food product (because of the health risks mentioned in my previous post), but it can and is easily sold as a medicinal/hair cair product "for external use only," even though many if not most people buying it are buying it to ingest (because it's a traditional cooking oil in India, Nepal, and Bangaladesh).

In fact, mustard seed oil is often shelved in indian grocery stores both in the personal grooming/medicinal aisle AND with the cooking oils (and I've occasionally even seen it in mainstream supermarkets in the ethnic food aisle - of course votive candles are also sold there). So even shelf placement probably is not a "law," so grocery stores probably could have put stevia next to the sweeteners, as long as it wasn't marketed/advertised directly as a sweetener).


In both cases, these are labeling and marketing issues, not accessibility issues. So I still would argue that herbal products are indeed treated more permissively than chemically engineered items in terms of accessibility. Marketing and advertising is a seperate issue, which I wasn't attempting to address.

It wasn't the FDA that prevented stevia from being sold outside of health food stores. Anyone could buy or sell stevia as long as they were willing to call it an herbal/dietary supplement. Chemically engineered items cannot be sold as herbal or dietary supplements or even "use at your own risk experimental" products, so that's an important distinction.


Rather stevia wasn't being sold in grocery stores, because grocery store owners weren't aware of the potential demand for stevia. Long before stevia was allowed to be marketed as a sweetener, grocery stores were starting to carry stevia in the herbal supplement aisle - not because the FDA had changed it's position on the substance (it hadn't yet) - but because consumer demand for the product had increased to the point that grocery store owners say the profit potential.

I also disagree slightly over your statement that the "change only occurred when same mega-corporations, like Cargill, realized stevia could be a cash cow for them just as much as the blue/pink/yellow packets, and they began to pour their money into R & D and marketing.

Rather, I would argue that consumer demand is what drove the change. The mega-corporations realized that stevia could be a cash cow, because they were already seeing that it WAS a current cash cow for those selling it as a dietary supplement.

Word of mouth tends to spread faster than even the best marketing campaigns, so sellers having to call stevia a "dietary supplement" rather than a sweetener wasn't a significant barrier to it's distribution and use (I would argue).

Desiderata
10-13-2012, 06:19 PM
Well, we can agree to disagree. You may be right about unrealized demand, but the fact remains that Coca-Cola and Cargill both decided to get into the market, put big money behind their altered stevia products, and coincidentally, the FDA suddenly changed their tune. Before that, stevia was explicitly banned to be sold as a sweetener. (Yes, there was wink-wink-nudge-nudge stuff at health food stores, but the specific and explicit ban no doubt scared away both retailers and consumers.) Your mustard seed oil is a cool and interesting analogy, but I don't think large corporations have subsequently come in and started putting big money behind mustard seed oil and changing the dynamic.

I'm not sure if there's a better summation out there of the past 20 years of stuff, but some quick googling led me to this source, which seems to be pretty comprehensive on the subject of how FDA approval has evolved: http://nutritionwonderland.com/2009/02/stevia-controversy/

Anyway, like I said - agree to disagree. :)

Elladorine
10-13-2012, 07:25 PM
I've tried both... But I actually prefer Truvia to Stevia. I don't know if you've ever heard of that. But I use that in my smoothies.
Truvia contains stevia. ;)

I've been playing around lately with Nectresse, which uses an extract from the monk fruit. :) Different flavor and feel than Truvia and worth looking into.

Elladorine
10-13-2012, 07:41 PM
The sea change only occurred when same mega-corporations, like Cargill, realized stevia could be a cash cow for them just as much as the blue/pink/yellow packets, and they began to pour their money into R & D and marketing.
I remember reading ages back that stevia didn't get pushed into approval as a sweetener in the states until they could sell it as a brand (AKA Truvia) since plain old stevia could mean fierce competition to the big companies unless they molded it into something that could be trademarked and put out themselves. Interesting that it's been available as a sweetener and used in diet products in Japan for years, but yeas, I know, different culture and all. I find it totally fascinating that it was available in the states, but couldn't be labelled as a sweetener (I remember searching for it with great difficulty, and that Truvia's availability opened the floodgates for such products as "Stevia in the Raw" and even generic green packets at the dollar stores, right next to the pink, blue and yellow ones). It was frustrating going to health food store after health food store and calling around different places (back before we had internet!) looking for stevia just so I could try it, and having absolutely no luck.

I'm actually a bit more suspicious of Truvia and the other corporate, chemically-engineered derivatives of stevia than I am of straight extracts of the plant itself. People should realize at least that many of the most common / most marketed stevia products (like Truvia) have been chemically altered. If one's not concerned with artificial sweeteners to begin with, this might not cause much alarm -- but I don't think Truvia and the like really should be considered "natural" alternatives. They're merely trading on the perception to make more money.
I agree with this, Truvia is processed so I don't consider it "natural" either. But I'm enjoying it in moderation since I like the flavor. ;)

kaplods
10-13-2012, 08:52 PM
Truvia contains stevia. ;)

I've been playing around lately with Nectresse, which uses an extract from the monk fruit. :) Different flavor and feel than Truvia and worth looking into.


I bought Nectresse (Ingredients: Erythritol, Sugar, Monk Fruit Extract, Molasses)

I liked that it had more of a brown sugar flavor (I'm not a big fan of Splenda brown sugar because it's just half regular brown sugar and half Splenda, so you can save money by buying Splenda or an generic version and mixing it with equal parts brown sugar yourself. Same product, same calorie count, much lower price).

I wasn't fond of the slightly bitter aftertaste or the erythritol as the main ingredient, because it's one of the sugar alcohols I AM more sensitive to (makes a handy laxative though).

I do use sugar alcohols in moderation (and by moderation I mean that I base the amounts on how much it takes to trigger the aforementioned laxative effect).


Another good brown sugar substitute is tiny amounts of blackstrap molasses added to the sweetener of your choice (I learned this tip from Dana Carpender's low-carb cookbooks).

toastedsmoke
10-15-2012, 01:07 PM
I don't hold much faith that any of the sweeteners are safe in large quantities or even "natural" once they're processed into sachet powders. And even with the whole "natural" thing, living where I live, I know lot's of "natural" things even with seemingly positive health benefits that can kill you pretty quick in large quantities. So maybe "natural" doesn't always have the same "mother nature fed me-" connotation to me.

In general, I try to limit my intake of sweeteners. I probably don't always do a good enough job with this, though. :( I don't really have any side effects so my choice purely for taste reasons has been Splenda.

mom23kids1
10-19-2012, 09:22 PM
I'm new to all of this and never realized how many different sweetener choices there were, besides plain old sugar! I wanted to make fat bombs yesterday and ended up in the baking isle of my store for almost and hour reading labels, sheesh! I've read on other forums that stevia is the preferred sweetener and the plan I'm following, Jorge Cruise's The Belly Fat Cure, recommends stevia. But, it's pricier than the other stuff so I ended up with splenda. I also just switched from regular diet coke to diet coke with splenda, but I've also gone from drinking 6+ cans of soda a day, down to 2 a day since I started my diet. I'm just going to try and limit using sweeteners except for fat bombs and my two cans of soda a day :)

billyblanks29
10-20-2012, 11:01 PM
So just to be clear, I don't have a 'favorite' sweetener. Nor am I saying that I think Stevia is so dangerous you should avoid it at all costs.

However, I don't really buy the claims that Stevia is somehow healthier than any other non-caloric sweetener out there. I certainly don't dispute that Japanese have been using it for years without issue - of course, the same could be said for saccharin - despite the fact that it was vilified for causing cancer in rats.

I also think it's worth noting that while the South Americans used 'sweet leaf' for generations, they actually used the entire plant. The stevia on the market today is actually a chemical extracted from that plant, and is probably as similar to the stevia leaf as high fructose corn syrup is to corn. That doesn't mean it's unhealthy, but it also means that you shouldn't really compare it to sweet leaf any more than you should HFCF to heritage corn.

In any event, what I was attempting to get across was that I didn't see any evidence that Splenda was riskier or unhealthier than Stevia, and I find it tastes better.

TripSwitch
10-21-2012, 02:01 AM
I just read through this post and it's been quite informative (thanks ladies, as always...) So I just thought I would share my feelings about some of the sweeteners being mentioned here...

Let me just start by saying that I don't get too overly concerned about what is necessarily the most "healthy" sweetener... For me it basically comes down to taste and using them in moderation, which for me is less than one packet a day... So I just don't worry about it too much...

That being said... I'm not a fan of Splenda and I really don't like stevia (just don't like the taste) but I did try Nectresse recently and thought it was OK (I haven't done any research yet on its safety) but hopefully it's relatively safe, because as far as taste goes I think it's one that I could live with...

But when all is said and done... I still use a packet of Suger in the Raw in my coffee and I'm probably not going to change that no matter what... :)

mariposssa
10-21-2012, 03:00 AM
I have mixed feelings about all of the sweeteners. I like the taste of Splenda the best. I have stevia, splenda, sweet n low packets and a couple of products that contain aspartame. The blue stuff is my least favorite; again because of taste. Honestly, I don't put too much stock in the studies and research...yesterday's facts and common knowledge quickly becomes tomorrow's fiction. A lot of the research is paid for by those same big companies who want to market the product to you. Studies are about like statistics, the results can be manipulated and skewed so that things appear to be what they never were.

Sweet n Low doesn't get a lot of marketing or hype these days, but has anybody else noticed that the warnings have been removed from its labeling? It is no longer required that they say it causes cancer in lab animals because it was found to be not true...but years back it was both common knowledge and "scientific fact" that it was a carcinogen. Popular and scientific opinion change too drastically and too often for anyone to really know the truth about nutrition.

The only sure thing is that there will be a new evil that is causing everyone to be fat and that evil is going to change with the season, or the new celeb diet book or the latest study. Then somebody else will prove the study is wrong and we will circle back. So, yeah I don't put a whole lot of stock in the current fad or study of diets/sweeteners/nutritional advice. I use them, but I think it is good advice to use them as sparingly as possible. I also agree with the person above who said they don't use any of them exclusively. I don't want to use large quantities of any one of them...so, I use smaller quantities and a variety of types.

Riddy
10-21-2012, 04:18 PM
I struggle with this question, too.

I don't ~seem~ to have any issues with any of the sweeteners I've tried - Sweet & low, Equal, Splenda, stevia. I definitely dislike the taste of sweet & low, and like all the others. I'm not convinced stevia is any better for you than any of the others. I usually pick Splenda because I like the taste best and it's widely available.

I am in the process of cutting back on artificial sweeteners. Eventually I'd like to go as sweet-free as I can manage. I really like a little honey in some teas, but while I'm still losing, Splenda it is. ;)