Stevia hits France but will our brains be fooled by another imitation?

The new ‘miracle’ sweetener Stevia (100% natural) has just been authorized in France, making it the first EU country to give the green light to a much-hyped product which is hoped will save the soft drink industry from falling sales and aspartame backlash. Already in use in Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, full approval in France is still dependant on a scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), but France has taken advantage of a window that allows individual member states to approve ingredients for a limited two-year period. So, in the coming months, it will be rolled out in drinks, desserts, yoghurts, tinned fruit, mustard and certain diet products.

Stevia sweeteners with 97 % purity rebaudioside A (Reb A) are made from a plant which originates in Latin America (but now grown in China) and are said to have a sweetening ability 300 times that of saccharose, but with no calories.
It will appear under the brand names PureVia (owned by Pepsi), Truvia (developed by Cargill and Coca Cola) and Liv.

Why do we need another sugar substitute, even one that is 100% natural and calorie-free? A new study from the Netherlands shows that the brain may in fact be able to distinguish between sugar and non-caloric sweetners. Paul Smeets, a neuroscientist at University Medical Center Utrecht, used a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses in people sipping two versions of orangeade, one containing sugar and one containing a mix of four artificial sweeteners: aspartame, acesulfame K, cyclamate and saccharin. The scans revealed consistent differences in how their brains responded.

According to an article in the LA Times, both sugar and the artificial sweeteners activated a brain region called the amygdala, which signals sensory pleasure. But only the sugared drink turned on a cherry-sized nugget of brain tissue in a region called the caudate. That little nugget, Smeets concluded, seemed to represent an unconscious perception of calories — assessed quite separately from the sweet taste. “We think the brain can distinguish, even if the people themselves cannot distinguish, between a caloric and a noncaloric sweet drink.”

We can only hope that it will be less toxic than aspartame. If you consume a lot of Diet Coke, or your children are addicted to ‘sugarless gum’, please check out this film, “Aspartame: Sweet Misery – A Poisoned World.” It’s quite an eye-opener.


9 responses to “Stevia hits France but will our brains be fooled by another imitation?

  1. Dear Denise

    Reb A is a naturally extracted part of the stevia rebaudiana plant which is grown in many countries including: Paraguay, Peru, Kenya and China. It is clear that calorie reduction with a natural sweetener (which also benefits the tens of thousands of subsistence level farmers and their families who grow the crop) is a major contribution to the health of western diet nations who are overloaded with calorific intake. You are absolutely right, there is no substitute for a healthy balanced diet and exercise. As a healthy and natural part of the solution though, stevia is good news and American consumers are agreeing in record numbers.

    Kind Regards


    • Hi Angus,

      Thanks for your comments. For the record (correct me if I am wrong) you are head of international marketing for Pure Circle, which markets a range of natural, high-intensity sweeteners internationally. Activities range from sourcing of dry stevia leaves and extraction, refining of crude extracts into sweeteners and marketing of these sweeteners to food and beverage manufacturers worldwide.

      regards, Denise

  2. Hello Denise.
    Might I suggest trying Zevia. Zevia is the first all natural, 0 calorie, 0 glycemic index, stevia sweetened soda. This soda was created by a triathlete, marathon runner and mountain climber. They wanted a no guilt, delicious diet soda. There’s no aspartame & no Splenda. It comes in 6 delicious flavors including Cola, Orange, Twist, Ginger Root Beet, Ginger Ale and Black Cherry.

    – Margaret
    PS If you or any bloggers would like to try Zevia to review, please email me at margaret at zevia dot com.

  3. The health benefits of stevia are well-documented. I use SweetLeaf stevia. This is the only truly 100% natural stevia brand because it is the only one wherin only pure water touches the leaves during extraction ( PureVia may claim they extract this way too, but they are not telling the truth!) Other stevia brands use chemicals during extraction, which changes the taste of the leaf. SweetLeaf also has 0 calories, 0 carbs, and a 0 glycemic index –the only stevia brand or sweetener on the market that has all three of these properties! So, why are only Truvia and PureVia the only stevia brands approved in France? It must because of the all-mighty dollar, or in France’s case, the all-mighty euro!

  4. This is an excellent source!!!!

  5. I’ve just bookmarked this, is it blackberry compatible so I can read it on my commute?

  6. Hello!

    I wonder who buys Stevia. I went to the production, but to whom to sell the finished product? Please, help me.

    Best Regards,

    Filip Kaleb

  7. Stevia is now approved as GRAS which means that it was shown not to cause cancer and gene mutation. ”

    Remember to explore our own blog site

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