5 Reasons To Avoid Stevia in the Raw


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Many of my personal coaching clients, who have been told to use an artificial sweetener to replace sugar in their diet, have asked me about using Stevia or Stevia in the Raw.  Since I don’t use it (or any artificial sweetener) in our products, I thought it might be a good time to explain why.

Stevia in the raw

First of all, with words like “in the raw” and “100% natural,” many artificial sweeteners (among thousands of other products) clearly fool a lot of people. I don’t know about you, but as someone who doesn’t eat gluten, grain, soy, or anything related to the bazillion names of the same as hidden ingredients (read how my life changed after eliminating them), nothing makes me angrier than untruth on a label, and I feel like that is just everywhere!  

This “Stevia in the Raw” just sends me over the edge with its high level of dishonesty.  Friends, when an ingredient label lists ANYTHING but what it says is “RAW” on the package, the product is NO LONGER PURE!  (Note that the first ingredient listed is Maltodextrin, which is an additive derived from a starch, generally CORN.  The fact that it’s the first ingredient listed indicates that the product contains a greater amount of maltodextrin than it does the stevia!) And, when something is extracted, generally it’s been through a fermentation process to get the extraction.  While it may not have been “cooked” per se, it’s definitely no longer raw (and I might add that corn or grain-based alcohol is often used in the extraction process!)

Stevia in the raw ingredients

When someone with diabetes approaches me and asks me to use an artificial sweetener because they can’t have sugar, I explain that I’d actually rather see them eat products that are grain-free and made with honey or pure maple syrup than to use an artificial sweetener!  Why is that? 

First, controlling the blood sugar is a process that can be changed by healing the immune system.  One step toward healing the immune system is to eat a gluten free, grain free, soy free diet (I personally lowered my A1C by doing exactly that).  

Secondly, guess what?  Since those artificial sweeteners generally all contain corn or a grain derivative (which is a starch), they actually act like sugar in the body.  

And third,  there’s the added issue of the artificial sweetener tricking pancreas to produce more insulin (see point five, below).

So here are the five key reasons that I steer clear of artificial sweeteners (and not just the Stevia in the raw, but I focused on that one since its the trendiest and has extremely misleading marketing):

  1. Maltodextrin is produced from a starch base; either rice, corn, wheat, barley, or potato.
  2. The source of the maltodextrin does not have to be disclosed on USDA regulated products (meat, poultry, eggs, or items containing a certain percentage of such).
  3. The source of the maltodextrin only has to be disclosed on FDA regulated products if it comes from wheat protein, but even then, it is considered a GRAS additive (Generally Recognized As Safe) and as long as it contains less than 20 ppm (parts per million), they can say “gluten free” on the label! (source:  FDA website)
  4. Maltodextrin, regardless of the base source, presents in the body as a carbohydrate, unless it passes right through the digestive system as”zero calorie.”
  5. Any artificial sweetener can actually be training your tongue to crave sweets, and can be particularly dangerous to someone who is a diabetic, “affecting metabolism even at very low doses.”  These type of sweeteners “trick” the body (particularly the pancreas) into producing more insulin.  Read an article about this from Medical News today by clicking here.

Do you use artificial sweeteners?  Why or why not?

~GGF Gourmet

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4 Responses so far.

  1. Kip Larson says:

    I switched to stevia hoping that this would be the answer I am a diabetic and have been a diabetic for 45 years now I read this about stevia and you say it is bad what should I use, I bake a lot, and I share what I bake and tell people that stevia is all natural , and you say that is not true ! I bake something 2or3 times a week, and I have my own cookbook.I published a few years ago.

    • GGF Gourmet says:

      Thank you, Kip, for the feedback. If you are growing stevia in your backyard, then I would call it natural. 🙂 The main problem lies in the processing and how it is extracted from the plant. However, then there is the added issue of how stevia may “trick” your body – essentially your pancreas – with regard to insulin levels.
      If you are managing your diabetes without medications and are still using stevia, then I say good for you! You’re doing it right. We all have to do what works best for us and for our bodies. My pursuit is for optimal health without medications if possible, so I avoid all artificial sweeteners in both my personal diet and in our products.
      I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any other questions. Congratulations on your cookbook! 🙂
      -Jen

    • Helena G Rubinstein says:

      I would love a copy of your cookbook

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