Truvia vs. Stevia: How They Compare, According to Dietitians

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Consumers who use sugar substitutes have many different choices. Stevia and Truvia are two popular options. There are certainly similarities between the two. In fact, Truvia is a product that contains stevia. But there are important differences, as well. Consider the pros and cons of each sweetener, along with advice from dietitians to determine the best sugar alternative for you.

Truvia

Truvia is the brand name for a sugar alternative that was launched by the Cargill company in 2008. At the time, it was the world’s first widely available plant-based, zero-calorie sugar substitute. The product is made by combining stevia leaf extract with erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and natural flavors.

After it was introduced, it became the fourth sweetener derived from stevia to gain widespread acceptance and it rapidly gained popularity in the United States. According to Cargill, it is currently the number one leading natural sugar substitute available in retail outlets across the US.

Nutritional Information

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for a one-teaspoon serving of Truvia. It should be noted that the USDA combines nutritional information for several stevia-based sweeteners, including Truvia, stevia, Stevia in the Raw, and Pure Via. The information below can also be confirmed by looking at the Truvia product label, although the product label lists a single serving as 3/4 teaspoon.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

The 3 grams of carbohydrate in Truvia come from erythritol, a sugar alcohol—more specifically, a polyol. Polyols are found naturally in fruits and vegetables like grapes and mushrooms. Erythritol can also be manufactured using a fermentation process. The substance adds bulk as well as the sugar-like crystalline appearance and texture to Truvia.

Usually, each gram of carbohydrate provides four calories, but the body does not absorb sugar alcohols, so they contribute zero calories. Since the body cannot metabolize erythritol, the substance does not change blood glucose or insulin levels.

Taste

A key ingredient in Truvia is stevia—a substance that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. So, to balance out that sweetness, Truvia manufacturers add erythritol—which is known to improve the mouth feeling of the sweetener, mask unwanted aftertastes such as astringency, and offset an irritant effect. The company also adds other natural flavors, but it does not disclose what the natural flavors are.

Many consumers describe a cool aftertaste to Truvia that is often attributed to the erythritol, but this sugar-substitute is often considered to be one of sugar alternatives with a "good taste."

In terms of sweetness, one packet of Truvia is supposed to be as sweet as 2 teaspoons of sugar (which would supply about 30 calories). If you are using the spoonable jar of Truvia, a tablespoon of sugar would have the equivalent sweetness of about 1 1/4 tablespoons of Truvia. The company provides a conversion calculator so that you can determine how much of the sweetener you should use to flavor your food or use in recipes.

There are few published taste tests of Truvia. But in 2009, Consumer Reports compared Truvia to sugar. In that study, taste testers found that Truvia sometimes had a bitter aftertaste and an artificial flavor. Some reported a lingering sweetness. However, taste testers liked that the product dissolved like sugar in cereal and had a similar taste and texture to sugar when consumed with fruit.

Uses

Truvia can be used in both cooking and baking. The company makes several different varieties for different uses. For example, the packets and spoonable products are used the way that you might use table sugar in coffee or sprinkled onto fruit or cereal.

The company also makes Sweet Complete Granulated All-Purpose Sweetener which is a Truvia-based, cup-for-cup replacement for sugar in recipes. The product bakes and browns just like sugar. There is also a zero-calorie brown sugar alternative that can be used as a cup-for-cup replacement in your favorite sweet recipes. And there are several sweeteners (erythritol and stevia combined with sugar) that can be used to decrease—but not eliminate—calories from sugar in your foods and recipes.

Health Benefits

Truvia, specifically, has not been studied substantially for its health benefits. But the main ingredients—stevia and erythritol—have been studied. Since stevia will be discussed in the next section, the health benefits of erythritol will be discussed here.

May Have Anti-Diabetic and Anti-Hyperglycemic Effects

Erythritol is believed to have some anti-diabetic and antihyperglycemic effects. In a published review investigating several artificial sweeteners, study authors write that since "erythritol does not affect insulin levels or glucose, it is an appropriate sugar substitute in diabetes patients, and also for individuals who wish or need to regulate their blood sugar levels because of prediabetes or compromised carbohydrate metabolism."

May Improve Dental Health

There is also evidence suggesting that foods containing erythritol may help improve dental health in both adults and children when consumed instead of sugar-containing foods.Specifically, it may reduce the incidence of dental caries (cavities).

May Have Antioxidant Properties

Lastly, some studies also suggest that erythritol may have anti-oxidative and endothelium-protective properties and might increases malabsorption of fructose (fruit sugar).

Safety Concerns

Studies indicate that erythritol is not likely to produce adverse effects when consumed as it is intended in food, in appropriate quantities. Research suggests that the repeated ingestion of erythritol in amounts of 1 gram per kilogram body weight is well tolerated by humans. The estimated average daily intake (from all sources—including fruits and vegetables) of erythritol is estimated to be 1.24 grams.

However, even though studies have suggested that erythritol does not affect plasma glucose, insulin concentrations, or gut microbiota, there is still some evidence suggesting that the sweetener may have an impact on gut health in some people. But the evidence is somewhat contradictory.

Authors of a 2019 research review indicate that polyols consumed in moderation could induce shifts in the gut microbiome in healthy people. Researchers added that the laxative effects of polyols need to be considered when they are consumed by patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

On the other hand, some researchers who study sugar alcohols and the low-FODMAP diet (often followed by those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)) put erythritol in a separate category from other polyols. Authors of one 2016 report that "sugar alcohols—with the exception of erythritol—should generally be avoided as part of low FODMAPs diet."

Lastly, one of the Truvia products (Sweet Complete All-Purpose) contains chicory root, a fructan. Fructans occur naturally in some foods such as artichokes, asparagus, leeks, garlic, and onions. Chicory root is fibrous and acts as a prebiotic in your gut. It can cause gas, bloating, and stomach pain in some people, especially those with IBS. It is not recommended for people following a low FODMAP diet.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Organic, non-GMO, gluten-free

  • Vegan and vegetarian-friendly

  • Provides sweetness with zero calories

  • Has a taste and texture similar to sugar

Cons
  • More costly than sugar

  • May cause gastrointestinal issues

  • Some say the taste is displeasing

Pros

Truvia is a versatile product that is organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. It contains no animal byproducts so it is compliant with vegan and vegetarian diets. Because it can be used just like sugar it makes a great substitute for those wanting to cut sugar calories from their food and recipes.

While some people report an aftertaste, this sweetener is often suggested as the sugar alternative that best matches the taste and texture of the real deal. The cooling aftertaste that some people experience is sometimes considered desirable because it tones down the lingering sweetness that the sugar alternative provides.

Cons

Sugar alternatives can be pricey, and Truvia is no exception. For instance, a 9.8-ounce jar of Truvia spoonable sugar-alternative retails for $5.99. But an entire bag of sugar (4 pounds) sells for about $1.99. So, if you're on a budget, the cost of the sweetener can be a drawback. However, Truvia is not necessarily more expensive than other sugar alternatives. A 9.7-ounce bag of Splenda costs about $7.39.

Also, as with most other sugar alternatives, some people experience a displeasing aftertaste with erythritol. While some like the cooling effect, some don't. And even though studies suggest that erythritol has fewer gastrointestinal side effects, some people still report problems as noted by dietitian comments (below).

Stevia

Stevia is not a brand name but rather a generic term for a sugar alternative made from the stevia plant (S rebaudiana Bertoni), which is native to South America. Stevia leaf extract is made by steeping the leaves of the stevia plant to extract the sweet compounds from the leaf material. Stevia is considered a "natural" sweetener because it is derived from a plant.

Stevia has been used as a sweetener for hundreds of years. Today, only high-purity stevia extracts containing 95% or greater steviol glycosides are approved by major regulatory agencies, including the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives and Codex Alimentarius (Codex) for use in foods and beverages.

You'll find many different brands of stevia-based sweeteners on grocery store shelves, specifically in the baking aisle near sugar and other sugar alternatives. Some products contain only stevia, and some contain other additives (like Truvia).

Nutritional Information

As mentioned previously, the USDA combines nutritional information for several stevia-based sweeteners, including Truvia, stevia, Stevia in the Raw, and Pure Via. But they also provide a legacy listing specifically for stevia. The following information is provided for a one-packet (1 gram) serving of stevia extract.

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Added sugars: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

If you look at the nutritional information for stevia, at first glance it might look like it provides fewer carbs than Truvia. But in fact, the number is only different because the serving size provided by the USDA is different. The nutritional information provided by the USDA for Truvia is for a one-teaspoon serving which is about three grams. The serving size above is for a one-packet serving, which is one gram. So the carb count for both stevia and Truvia is actually the same.

Taste

The level of sweetness of stevia will depend in part on the product that you buy. Purified stevia leaf extracts can contain one steviol glycoside or several different glycosides, which can be up to 250 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose. But each brand might have a different formulation. Stevia In the Raw, for example, says that one of their packets has the sweetness equivalence of two teaspoons of table sugar.

The taste and texture of your stevia may also depend on the brand that you buy. For instance, Stevia In the Raw is a brand that sells stevia in packets and stevia for baking. In the packet sweetener, they add dextrose—a carbohydrate made from corn. The dextrose doesn't affect the taste at all but it affects the texture. Dextrose dilutes the stevia leaf extract to make it measurable for consumers.

In the Raw's Bakers Bag contains stevia and maltodextrin, another carbohydrate derived from corn. Again, the maltodextrin does not affect the taste but gives it a consistency that is measurable. Consumers can use it as a "cup-for-cup” sugar replacement.

Uses

Like Truvia, you can use stevia like you would use sugar in coffee, on cereal, or sprinkled on fruit or other foods. There are also stevia products that you can use for baking.

However, when baking with stevia, many cooking experts recommend that you start by only replacing half of the sugar with stevia. This should allow you to get the right volume and texture. Then you can experiment by adding less sugar and more stevia if you choose to reduce the sugar even more. You can check your stevia brand's website for a conversion chart that is applicable to their product.

It should be noted that stevia breaks down in temperatures above 400 degrees. So when baking with stevia (or Truvia which contains stevia) you'll want to choose recipes that use an oven temperature lower than that.

In addition, depending on how you balance out the sugar/stevia ratio, you may need to use a substitute in some recipes to replace volume. Some people use liquids such as yogurt, apple sauce, pumpkin, or egg whites. If you use a stevia product with a bulking agent (like maltodextrin) you may not need the extra liquid.

Health Benefits

May Be Beneficial for Glucose and Insulin Response

Like other zero-calorie or no-calorie sweeteners, you'll be able to cut calories and reduce your sugar intake when you use stevia instead of sugar. For some people, such as those trying to lose weight, this may be beneficial. For example, a study published in 2018 by the American Diabetes Association investigated how stevia might affect the glycemic and insulin response in people with obesity.

For the study, each participant took either 200mg of stevia or a placebo (both in pill form). Sixty minutes after consuming the substance, blood samples were obtained to test for glucose and insulin response. Researchers found that stevia did not affect acute glycemic and insulin responses compared to placebo, but they also noted that more extensive studies of longer duration need to be conducted. It's also important to note that only 20 people were involved in the study and the study participants were only tested twice.

There has been at least one other recent research review that found a similar relationship between stevia consumption and glycemic and insulin response.

May Prevent Dental Caries

Research has suggested that consuming stevia instead of sugar may help prevent dental caries (cavities).

May Improve Blood Pressure

Stevia consumption has also been investigated for its impact on blood pressure. Several studies have been conducted but results have been inconsistent and many times the purpose of the study was investigating stevia safety. More studies need to be conducted to determine if consuming stevia can have any blood-pressure-lowering effect.

Safety Concerns

Stevia has a "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS) status in the United States. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of stevia with ≥95% pure glycosides is 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. That amount is equivalent to about nine stevia packets.

Unlike Truvia, pure stevia does not contain a polyol, like erythritol. So there are fewer concerns about gastrointestinal problems with stevia and studies noting a relationship are lacking.

The American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology reports rare cases of possible stevia allergy. They suggest that skin tests could be performed if you suspect an allergy.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Provides sweetness with zero calories

  • Vegan and vegetarian-friendly

  • Better for the environment

  • Gluten-free, non-GMO

Cons
  • More expensive than sugar

  • Not all products are pure stevia

  • May be harder to bake with

Pros

Like Truvia, stevia provides sweetness without sugar or calories. It comes in different forms (liquid and different powdered forms), so it can be suitable for different uses. Pure stevia is completely plant-based, so it is also compliant with vegan and vegetarian diets. Many products are gluten-free and non-GMO, although you should always check the package to be sure.

According to a report published in 2015, stevia requires less, water, and energy to produce compared to other sweeteners. Authors write that "A carbon and water footprint assessment from one of the largest stevia producers, using sweetness equivalence for comparison, found an 82% reduction in carbon footprint for stevia compared with beet sugar and a 64% reduction compared with cane sugar."

Cons

Like Truvia, you'll pay more for most stevia products than you will for sugar. For example, one 9.7-ounce bag of Stevia in the Raw Baker's Bag costs about $8.00. Again, a 4-pound bag of sugar can cost less than two dollars.

Another issue is that if stevia is your sweetener of choice, you'll have to read labels carefully to ensure that stevia is the only sweetener in the product you choose. Several brands use the word "stevia" on the label but actually include other sweeteners in the product. If you are looking for pure stevia, always read the ingredients list to be sure.

Lastly, you'll need to do some experimenting when you first start baking with stevia. But this is no different than using other sweeteners (even Truvia). Also, there are some stevia products designed just for recipes that making cooking with the sweetener easier.

Truvia vs. Stevia: Dietitians Compare

Truvia and stevia are so closely related that it can be hard to compare the two. But these dietitians weighed in and provided their own preferences and stevia was the clear winner.

Julie Harris, RDN, LDN, CPT

Julie Harris, RDN, LDN, CPT develops recipes and nutritional content for sites such as AngryBBQ.com. She also serves as an author and reviewer for various other publications and volunteers on the Review Board for The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. Her go-to sweetener is stevia.

"My personal opinion between the two is to opt for stevia. Stevia extracts are much less processed than Truvia and the key is to look for products that are 100% pure stevia extract. The tricky thing about stevia is that it is more expensive than Truvia and cane sugar. My recommendation is to use stevia when you want to reduce the sugar content in baking or cooking since you can use less stevia than you would sugar."

Dr. Heather Finley, MS, DCN, RDN, CEDRD-S

Dr. Heather Finley, is a registered dietitian with a doctorate in clinical nutrition who specializes in gut health. She is the founder of Nourish Functional Health, a company that provides nutritional and lifestyle coaching to clients seeking relief from gut and mood issues. She also prefers stevia over Truvia.

"Personally I choose to use stevia instead of Truvia. Although Truvia contains stevia leaf, it also contains chicory root and erythritol. For me, and many of the patients I work with, sugar alcohols (like erythritol) can cause unwanted gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. Chicory root, although great for the gut and a prebiotic fiber, often can cause unwanted GI symptoms in many people as well.

When baking or sweetening things, I prefer to use just pure stevia to accomplish the sweetness I am looking for, but without the GI side effects like gas, bloating, or changes in bowel habits." 

Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN

Lauren Minchen, MPH, RDN, CDN is the founder of Lauren Minchen Nutrition and a nutrition consultant for Freshbit, an AI-driven visual diet diary app. Like the others, Lauren also prefers stevia and includes it in her daily diet.

"I love to use Stevia in my green tea, smoothies, and baked goods for a natural sweetener option. While both stevia and Truvia are fine options, I prefer stevia to Truvia because it does not contain any blends with other sweeteners, like brown sugar or erythritol. Brown sugar can add calories and spike blood sugar, while erythritol can irritate digestion and cause gas and bloating for some who use it."

Kristin Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, CNSC

Kristin Gillespie is a registered dietitian and full-time certified nutrition support clinician in Virginia Beach, VA. Kristin's thoughts on the stevia vs Truvia debate are in line with those of the other registered dietitians and she chooses to use stevia in her eating plan.

"I use Stevia in my own diet over all of the other sweeteners, including Truvia. Stevia and Truvia are very comparable as far as sweeteners go. Both come from the stevia plant, but Truvia is a bit more processed and has additional ingredients including erythritol and natural sweeteners. Otherwise, there are minimal differences; both products are calorie-free and do not cause tooth decay seen with other sweeteners. They can also both be used in cooking, where other sweeteners cannot."

A Word From Verywell

If you choose to use a sugar alternative, you have many options available. The best sweetener for you will depend on your personal taste and your intended use. Try experimenting with stevia and Truvia or other products to decide which one you prefer. And if your goal is to reduce your sugar intake, keep in mind that there are other ways to cut back to reach your health and wellness goals.

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