I was in the grocery store at the weekend and was amazed at the sheer variety of stevia brands that were available. There were liquids and sachets, powders and granules. I was so confused. How could I possibly choose the best one amongst all of these?
So, I decided to do some research online to see which were the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of all these stevia products.
I’ve put together a list of the brands to avoid and the stevia brand that (I think) is the best of the best. Along the way, we’ll also answer some common questions about this amazing sweetener, and dispel a few myths. Ready? Let’s go.
Brand to choose: NatriSweet Original Stevia Liquid Drops
This little bottle of liquid drops is an excellent choice. It tastes great, has zero calories and lasts for ages. Take a look at the ingredients list and you’ll see that this is also an alcohol-free product, having a purified water base.
If you check out the reviews, you can see that a little goes a long way with these drops. Try one drop first, have a taste, then adjust upwards as necessary until you get the sweetness just right for your requirements.
I love the size of the 8 oz bottle with a handy eye-dropper style dispenser. So easy to carry around with you and you can get the perfect amount of sweetness every time you need it, wherever you are.
Brands to avoid: KAL Sure Stevia Extract Powder, Organic Green Stevia Leaf Powder by Naturevibe Botanical, NOW Foods’ Better Stevia Instant Tabs, Ozone US Stevia Powder
What is stevia blend?
Stevia is amazing, isn’t it? An all-natural, sugar-free alternative to sugar, it comes from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana.
What type of sweetener is stevia? You probably know that stevia is derived from a herb, so it’s not some nasty chemical. And that, in its purest form, stevia doesn’t raise the glycaemic index and has proved to be helpful for people in coping with high blood sugar who don’t want to have to use artificial sweeteners.
Did you also know that stevia is part of a group of herbs and shrubs that are part of the sunflower family? A native of South America, it has been used there for centuries to sweeten food and was called Yerba Dolce (or sweet herb). In modern times it has been used in many countries, particularly Japan, where it has been used since 1971 and by 1988 almost half of the sweetener used in Japan was stevia.
How to choose stevia
Head over to your local health food store and you’ll probably be overwhelmed with all the options for stevia products.
With the advent of this sugar alternative after years of yukky artificial chemical sweeteners, consumers are flocking to this natural product now more than ever. However, there is a problem with the massive variety of stevia products to which we now have access, and that comes in the form of fillers and additives that are put in with the stevia.
Have a look at the ingredients list on a stevia product and you’ll probably see more than just stevia listed, especially if it’s one of the cheaper brands. Most brands contain one or more additives to allow easier pouring of the product and create a powder that flows easily. Stevia liquids can also be found in alcohol-based products, although there are a variety of alcohol-free products available.
Generally, all active stevia brands contain one of the following. Choose the one that you’re most comfortable with or pick pure stevia to avoid any of them.
Commonly found stevia additives:
Maltodextrin – a starch from rice, potatoes or corn, this helps add sweetness and creates a loose powder. It’s useful for baking as it won’t go lumpy. Always buy stevia/maltodextrin products that are non-GMO and organic as corn can often be genetically modified
Dextrose – an additive made from fruit, honey, or corn sugar. Again, always go for non-GMO/organic brands
Inulin – this is a plant fiber and can be associated with gastrointestinal problems, for example, bloating, gas and other digestive issues
Erythritol – a sugar alcohol made from corn (so always buy non-GMO and organic brands). It has a sweet taste that people often say tastes better than other additives – Coca Cola use this in their Truvia brand
Xylitol – this is a sugar alcohol derived from birch and believed to be amongst the safest additives. Studies have shown that it can be a benefit to oral health, but in common with other sugar alcohols, it can lead to digestive problems
Glycerin – is made from fruits and vegetables and is often felt to be one of the safest additives. It doesn’t increase the glycaemic index and has a pleasant sweet taste. It is not known to cause health problem for most folk and is also found in alcohol-free vanilla extract products used in baking
To get the purest stevia product, either choose 100% pure stevia extract or pure liquid stevia and, if available, an alcohol-free version.
Does stevia raise insulin levels?
There is evidence that stevia can hold back your plasma glucose levels and also increase your body’s glucose tolerance. Research studies have shown that it can also increase insulin production, increase that insulin’s effect on cell membranes, stabilize your body’s blood sugar, and counteract the mechanics of type 2 diabetes and some of its complications.
How to get rid of stevia aftertaste?
Many people are concerned about the aftertaste that some stevia products can have. But there are a couple of great ways that I’ve found for getting around this.
First up, start gradually with stevia, and mix it in with another sweetener for your recipe or beverage. Try a bit of honey, maple syrup, fruit juice, coconut milk, molasses, or xylitol. You’ll find that after taste is massively reduced and may not even be noticeable. Over time you can then reduce the amount of the second sweetener until you reach the point where you’re just using stevia, but you won’t be able to taste the after taste anymore.
The second option, if you just use stevia without another sweetener. Start with a tiny amount (works best in drinks rather than baking, obviously!). Taste it. If it tastes right, stop. If not, add a tiny amount more and taste it again. Keeping adding a drop at a time and re-tasting until you’ve got just the amount of sweetness you want and no more.
How to use stevia powder in baking
There are a couple of useful things to be aware of when you’re using stevia in your baking:
Stevia baking blend conversion
We know that stevia is a lot sweeter than normal sugar, so that means that you can’t just do a direct swap in your baking recipes. Go for this substitution: swap 1 cup of sugar for either 1tsp liquid stevia, or 1/3-1/2tsp stevia extract powder, or approximately 18-24 individual serving sachets.
Stevia cake recipes for diabetics
If you’re looking for baking inspiration, then I’ve found a couple of great resources for you. Both of these sites have got lots of recipes to browse through and whet your appetite with. This one has plenty of cake recipes and this one has a range of recipes (including the most amazing looking carrot cake whoopie pies!)
Stevia Brands To Avoid
Sure Stevia: Kal’s Sure Stevia Extract Powder should be good, but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be.
Whilst Sure Stevia used to be a great-tasting stevia product, a few years ago the recipe was altered, and this has had a real impact on the taste. A sweetener that used to taste fantastic is now virtually undrinkable, according to the reviews. Indeed, one reviewer also noted that it led to them experiencing water retention and sugar cravings. Not good! Read more+
Naturevibe: Organic Stevia Leaf Powder by Naturevibe is organic, non-GMO and, according to one reviewer, left their coffee tasting “soapy”. If you’re after a very natural stevia that is as close to the leaf as possible, then this might be the brand for you. If you really want the sweetness of stevia, without any plant taste, then you should probably look elsewhere. Read more+
NOW Foods: Better Stevia from NOW Foods is a product that comes in tablet form, rather than liquid or granulated. Whilst that’s no problem in and of itself, the tablets seem to have an issue with not dissolving. Tending to just sit at the bottom of the coffee mug. Not ideal because you won’t get any of the stevia sweetness coming from the tablet if it stays in one piece and doesn’t dissolve.
Unless NOW Foods change the formulation to resolve this issue, then I’d recommend sticking to a liquid/powdered stevia. Read more+
Ozone US: I think that this stevia powder form Ozone US has one of the most scathing reviews that I’ve ever seen. Take a look.
A stevia drinker described the taste of this as worse than urine and, apparently, she does actually know what she’s talking about here.
Might be worth skipping over this particular brand… Read more+
There is such a wide variety of stevia brands available for sale in our stores today. It’s easy to get confused by all the liquids and sachets, powders and granules. How can you choose the best one amongst all the one on the shelves?
I hope that this article has helped you choose and answered a few common questions about stevia.
Original Stevia from NatriSweet is our top pick for its formulation, free from alcohol and other additives. It’s a great choice that handy to keep with you at all times for a drop of sweetness, without the sugar.
**Please note that our reviews are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore ThisButNotThat are in no way liable**