Stevia vs. Splenda

Stevia, as you may know, comes from the stevia rebaudiana plant, which is grown around the world and “has been used since pre-Colombian times with no reports of ill side effects. Stevia has also withstood years of research that has proven [it] to be safe for human and animal consumption.” http://www.cookingwithstevia.com/stevia_faq.html

Benefits of stevia, according to “Cooking with Stevia” (see above link):

* No calories
* Does not affect blood sugar levels
* 100% natural
* 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar
* Heat stable to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit)
* Non-fermentable
* Flavor enhancer
* Plaque retardant, prevents cavities
* Recommended for diabetics
* Non-toxic

Splenda is not natural; it is a chlorinated artificial sweetener. There have been no long-term human studies on the safety of Splenda; however, issues have been raised about [it] in a new study from Duke University.” http://www.truthaboutsplenda.com/factvsfiction/index.html

I looked up the study abstract, titled Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Male Rats. I don’t know anything about intestinal glycoprotein and cytochrome, but I’m pretty sure altered gut microflora is not a good thing. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15287390802328630

Dr. Mercola’s translation of the study:

  • Reduces the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent
  • Increases the pH level in your intestines, and
  • Affects a glycoprotein in your body that can have crucial health effects, particularly if you’re on certain medications like chemotherapy, or treatments for AIDS and certain heart conditions

Researchers, he says, also found evidence that Splenda is absorbed by fat, contrary to previous claims. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/26/major-media-finally-exposes-splendas-lies.aspx

Other possible Splenda (sucralose) side effects: Chlorine poisoning (chlorine atoms added), diarrhea, intestinal cramps, stomach pains, flatulence, headaches, migraines, chest pain, constricted airways, heartburn, indigestion and weight gain (the sweetener does not satisfy cravings, which may lead to more food consumption). http://www.ehow.com/about_5518521_side-effects-splenda-sweetener.html#ixzz1jHaabhzb

If you’re like me, you’d rather use stevia than sucralose with its added chlorine and side effects. But how does one cook with stevia, which is so extremely sweet but has a bitter aftertaste when too much is used? Stevia Info has lots of suggestions, including an equivalency chart, which you can view at http://www.steviainfo.com.  The site’s basic instruction is to “replace 1 cup sugar for 1 tsp. liquid stevia, or 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. stevia extract powder, or 18-24 packets.”

The authors add: “Please remember when cooking and baking with stevia that for every 1 cup of sugar that is replaced by stevia there should be 1/3 cup of a liquid or other “bulk” added to the recipe. The liquid is needed to create the bulk effect that the sugar normally would [create].”

SteviaCafe.net offers this: “The best tip we can give is that less stevia is more. It’s a little like vanilla and other extracts – it’s all too easy to use too much stevia. At first, we recommend using a little less than the recipe calls for and adding more as necessary to taste. Stevia is perfect in produce and milk/dairy recipes, but the downside for baking is that it does not offer the same properties of sugar, such as helping to soften batter, caramelize, etc. Stevia’s sweetness is, however, unaffected by the baking/cooking process.

“By now, you’re asking, ‘How do I know how much stevia to use? How much is too much?’ It’s difficult to provide a definitive answer. Sour or tart fruits, such as cherries or lemons, require more stevia than a comparable dessert baked using apples, for example. Your own personal taste plays a role as well, as it does with other non-stevia recipes.” http://www.steviacafe.net/cooking-with-stevia

At our house, we use stevia to sweeten tea, yogurt, cereal, etc. I’ve never cooked with it. If you cook with stevia, please share your experiences and tips with me and Grandma Gone Granola readers. Happy experimenting! Becky

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