Are Stevia and Agave Syrup healthier Sweeteners than Sugar?
Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is the national director of
nutrition at BodyScience Medical. She can be seen Thursdays at noon on
CTV News Channel’s Direct. Lesliebeck.com recommendation: Train your taste buds to adjust to a less sweet taste
by gradually cutting back on sugars, stevia or artificial sweeteners.
Eventually, you’ll be surprised to learn that your cup of coffee or tea,
glass of water, or bowl of cereal tastes just fine without adding
Agave syrup has either a dark or light amber colour and it’s slightly
thinner in consistency than honey. It contains 60 calories per
tablespoon – versus 48 for table sugar – but because it is about 1.5
times sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it. Nutritionally, agave syrup is similar to high-fructose corn syrup.
Stevia is a no-calorie sweetener that’s made from the leaves of a plant, Stevia rebaudiana,
native to South America. Stevia leaves get their sweet taste – about 10
to 15 times sweeter than sugar – from natural compounds called steviol
They have not, however, been
approved for use as food additives in Canada and the United States
because animal studies have suggested stevia could cause genetic
mutations and male infertility.
A highly purified
stevia extract – sold under the brand names Truvia and PureVia – has
been deemed safe and given the green light to sweeten foods in Canada
and the U.S., including breakfast cereals, salad dressings, chewing gum
and beverages. This purified stevia extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter
than sugar so it takes only a minuscule amount to sweeten foods.
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