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Battle of the Brands: How Safe Is Truvia & PureVia

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By Chere Di Boscio

For centuries, South Americans have been using stevia, a plant with a sweet, anise-like aftertaste, as a sweetener. The leaves are dried and ground into a powder, or distilled into a liquid, and there’s only about one calorie per teaspoon. The Japanese have also been using stevia safely for half a century, with no reported ill effects.

In fact, this completely natural sugar substitute is said to have health benefits: it can not only stave off tooth decay, weight gain and diabetes, but it’s also said to strengthen immunity, good bacteria in the gut, and kidney function,too. In short, given the health benefits of stevia, it’s a wonder that anyone would choose to ingest aspartame, sorbitol, saccharin or any other harmful chemical sweeter.

Back Camera

Or is it? The corporate manufacturers of Splenda, NutraSweet and other toxic sweeteners ensured they had the North American market in sweeteners covered by allowing stevia to be sold as a ‘dietary supplement’ only, which meant it was available mainly in health food shops rather than supermarkets, greatly limiting its availability in the USA and Canada, where enormous mega-marts prevail. Yet, as news of stevia spread throughout  the world thanks to the internet, there was no keeping it away from increasingly obese and diabetic Americans worried about their health.

So, it seems the large food corporations thought: if you can’t beat them, join them, and started including stevia in their sodas, sweets and snacks. Kind of.

Truvia and  PureVia  are the latest sweeteners to hit the market from Coca-Cola  in a joint venture with food giant Cargill, and PepsiCo. They are both marketed as natural “stevia” sweeteners. They are even sold in health food stores.  However, both  Truvia and PureVia are not purely natural stevia at all–in fact, they are just as bad as the chemical sweeteners that preceded them. Here’s why.

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The Dangers of Truvia & PureVia

So how safe is Truvia? Is PureVia safe? Both products are mixed with chemicals in a laboratory, thus creating a ‘patentable’ product, unlike pure stevia, which is just a natural plant. The first three ingredients in Truvia are: Erythritol, Rebiana and Natural Flavours, and PureVia’s formula is almost the same. Note that stevia–pure stevia– is NOT an ingredient in either of these products. As for exactly what Truvia is made of, let’s take a closer look:

1)  Erythritol: A sugar alcohol which is made by heavily chemically processing genetically modified (GMO) corn; this is the main ingredient in Truvia. Sugar alcohols are notoriously hard to digest and so are known for their unpleasant side effects such as gastric distress, diarrhea, cramping, gas and bloating–all symptoms that many who have consumed Truvia and PureVia have complained of.

2)  Rebiana: This is the molecule of the stevia plant that gives it a natural sweetness. Again, it is chemically separated from the plant in its natural state. Half of one percent of Truvia is Rebiana. The truth is that the only reason Truvia can claim to be a form of stevia at all  is because rebiana is  derived  from the stevia plant, but let’s be clear–this is no closer to stevia than a gummy bear (made with cow gelatine) is to a steak.

3)  Natural Flavours. In America, the term “natural” is not FDA-regulated, therefore there are no standards when using this word. This is a perfect example of how the term “natural” is used to deceive consumers, as nothing about Truvia is natural at all, despite the maker’s claims to the contrary. In fact, the makers of Truvia are very good at stretching the truth, along with other types of marketing deception such as using pictures of leaves and the colour green on Truvia’s packaging and website, implying the product is “natural”.

These products have only been on the market for a few years, but there are already class action lawsuits against the manufacturers of Truvia and PureVia by people who have suffered health issues as a result of ingesting these fake stevia sweeteners. Recently, the manufacturers of Truvia were forced to settle one of these lawsuits by paying settlements to those who bought their product on the (false) grounds that it was ‘natural’. In fact, if you have purchased Truvia for personal use, you could be eligible for benefits from the class action settlement.

And yet, perhaps the greatest irony of all is this: pure, natural stevia is still classified as a ‘dietary supplement’ in the United States.

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What Can You Do?

Even if you trust Truvia and PureVia (which we don’t), they are often put into drinks and snacks that are labelled ‘with Truvia/PureVia’, which means exactly that–they ‘with’ other sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose (a synthetic additive created by chlorinating sugar)  or Acesulfame-K, which is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.

Of course, the best product to buy is 100% pure, unbranded stevia from South America (not China, where it is sprayed with pesticides). Alternatively, SweetLeaf is a natural, pure brand that is not only chemical free, its production has also kept Latin American farmers away from growing crops related to the drug trade.

But whatever you do, avoid not only artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin but also Truvia and PureVia if you care about your body absorbing chemicals with unknown effects.

Images: SweetLeaf

 

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Jacinto L Thijsen
    Nov 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I am using PureVia STEVIA for all must a year instead of Splenda.
    It said all natural Whole world sweetener.
    Non GMO
    It has no other chemicals in it. Is this True?
    It is distributed by Whole Earth Sweetener Co. LLC 60602
    Is this sweetener Save?

    Jani Thijsen
    Aruba

  • Reply
    MaryAnn Jewell
    Mar 30, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I have been using this product for several years and after many months of undefined illness I have been diagnosed with severe intestinal inflammation and Celiac disease.
    I’ve had months of pain, diarrhea, constipation and several trips to the Doctor and hospital. After many medications and rest I am slowly recovering with out the use of Pure Via. This is sad news for us Diabetics.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Mar 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      Wow, interesting story! Please do try pure Stevia: it has absolutely no ill effects on the body, and even contains minerals. Alternatively, please search for our story on Sugar Alternatives–there are some that have a low GI and are safe for diabetics. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Paula
    Jan 1, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Thank you for this article. I am now going to switch to 100% pure, unbranded Stevia from South America. I only wish that this article had a printable version. Would like to share it with others.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Jan 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      Great choice Paula! Thanks for your comments.

  • Reply
    snezana ljubojevic
    Feb 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    I recently started using PureVia. When I looked at the ingredients, I was shocked to see that the first one is dextrose. My H.S. chemistry taught me that dextrose is sugar. So I looked up at other Stevia products and found one that has only Stevia in it: SweetLeaf. BTW, PureVia and TrueVia are produced by Coca-Cola. That says it all.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Feb 8, 2016 at 12:37 am

      Whoa! Interesting info! Thanks for sharing Snezana!

  • Reply
    Tasha
    Oct 27, 2016 at 4:26 pm

    I read your post and immediately contacted the SweetLeaf company to enquire as to the source of their stevia. I used it for years. The relevant factor for me originally using this company’s product was a belief was sourced from South America.

    Although transparent information is nowhere to be found on their current web site, SweetLeaf stevia is indeed sourced from China.

    Interesting note: As I have purchase the liquid and powdered forms from Amazon.com over the years, I found that when I went to post my findings to provide facts to other consumers, Amazon refused to allow my negative review, and therefore it appears I am thwarted in sharing this with others.

    Here is the enquiry and response, I hope it is helpful for you as you gather factual information.

    I wrote to the company 26 October 2016:
    Request (#7801):
    Message: Do you use stevia sourced from China?

    ———————————————–
    Atiana Bowyer (Wisdom Natural Brands)

    Our stevia comes from China, and the products are manufactured in the U.S..

    Thank you,
    Atiana Bowyer
    Customer Service Representative
    Wisdom Natural Brands

  • Reply
    mike
    Aug 25, 2017 at 12:05 am

    Currently the only source for USDA certified Organic Stevia is from China. Other companies are attempting to do this in other countries but several issues with purity of product continue to plague them. The best indication of the product is the HPLC analysis done in a lab. Most of the private labeled items on the market today as well as many of the branded ones indicate the use of sub-par and even unacceptable Stevia. US Food Grade stevia must have a 95% concentration. Many companies are selling Stevia in its “pure” form as an ingredient; most of these same companies have no idea what the product might contain and in what concentration. Our problem is not with smart competitors; it is with the ones that operate without the core knowledge necessary to be subject matter experts in the product they represent.

    • Reply
      Chere
      Aug 25, 2017 at 12:24 am

      That statement seems a bit dubious – as someone who has lived in South America for years, I can tell you there’s a huge abundance of stevia that grows naturally, organically and even wild, in many of the countries there.

  • Reply
    25 Refined Sugar Free Vegan Protein Ball Recipes - Better Than Cookies! - Eluxe Magazine
    Sep 14, 2018 at 7:26 am

    […] but PLEASE NOTE: do NOT use Truvia as stipulated in the recipe – this stuff is poison! (click here to see why). Please substitute pure Stevia […]

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