Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Uncover the Secret of Stevia

I’ve said it before: Americans love sugar. In practically everything! Yet it’s a rare one of us that doesn’t know that we need to cut back, and for some of us, maybe even avoid it altogether. Food manufacturers have known this for a very long time. They constantly seek to meet the demands of the American taste buds while at the same time trying to follow “healthy” guidelines and standards set forth admonishing us all to reduce our sugar intake. Their answer? Artificial sweeteners. They’re in everything from yogurt to flavored water, ice cream to iced tea and hot cocoa mix. But not here.

Just take a trip down the aisles of any Whole Foods Market and you won’t find ANY products containing any artificial sweeteners. These purely synthetic compounds do not exist in nature, so it’s no surprise our human bodies may be ill-equipped to handle them. Enter stevia, the sweet secret known for years by the natives of South America and eventually adopted by European colonists. The stevia plant originally comes from the rain forests of Brazil and Paraguay where it is known as the “yerba dulce” or “sweet leaf.” It’s still available in those regions, and it’s also now grown in Japan, Korea, Thailand and China where it’s commonly used. Today, the greatest use of stevia is in Japan. Stevia gets its flavor from various glycosides, particularly stevioside, which is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar. It has no calories, minimal to no carbohydrates and a glycemic index of zero, After only allowing stevia as a dietary supplement for many years, the FDA has approved the use of certain stevia extracts in food products, making way for a variety of new products to enter the market.

One such new natural sweetener, Truvia™, is turning up in conventional grocery stores as well as natural food stores nationwide. Stevia is available in powdered white or powdered leaf form, or as a liquid extract. The white powdered and liquid forms are the strongest, so start with just a pinch. You can use it in beverages, baked goods, custards, puddings, frostings and sauces. It is heat stable, up to about 400°F, so you can use it in practically any recipe. Remember that it is not sugar, and when baking, it does not act like sugar. It won’t caramelize and brown your baked goods so some recipes won’t work with stevia. Ready to try some stevia?

Start here:

  • Use it in your tea or your coffee, hot or iced
  • Add to yogurt or cream cheese
  • Add a pinch to a fruit salad
  • Stir it into strawberries
  • Add to oatmeal or other hot or cold cereals
  • Add to popsicles
  • Bake with stevia; here’s a “Stevia Info” guide to help out.

Have you ever tried stevia? Do you bake with it or use it in beverages? I would love to hear!

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178 comments

Comments

Dianne Oelberger says …

how does a green plant become a white powder..... lots of chemicals in the processing of it. Really? Whole foods shoe know better.

Belinda says …

I jus start using it it is good.

Janelle says …

Thanks for the info! I am currently doing my own research before phasing out sugar and introducing Stevia.

Linda Gourash says …

Hi, I have been using the 365 Brand of vanilla flavored stevia extract. I want to know what you use for the "natural vanilla flavoring"? Is it vanilla bean or some other source, like Beaver? Thanks

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@LINDA - Thanks for asking! You can rest assured that our 365 Vanilla Flavor is just vanilla, water and alcohol. It does not contain Castoreum.

Mark says …

Just started using stevia recently, love it. Used it in my plant based protien drink today which I make with almond milk. Generaly is very bland but stevia made it enjoyable.

PL says …

Stevia is wonderful and it is good for you.

Kim says …

I wonder how much processing it takes to get it into powder form? Wouldn't it be more "natural" if left in it's leaf form. You could brew it in your tea, but maybe not use it as if it were sugar, which it isn't, it's a green leafy plant. Truvia, sounds processed.

Don Parsons says …

Do you carry Stevia in 8 oz. containers?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DON - Most of our stores should have a an 8oz. option but check with your local store to make sure!

Donna Champion says …

Whole Foods introduced me to pure Stevia powder many years ago. Since leaving IL, I have been unable to find the same quality. I still use Stevia powder and buy it in one ounce packs from another source. With the Stevia I originally found at Whole Foods, it never would have taken 1/4 tsp. to sweeten a 20 oz. cup of coffee, but it's still better than the alternatives.

Debbie South Amboy N.J. says …

I use it all the time.Great in dishes that call for sugar use the same amount called for.I use a little less so it's not so sweet.I drink about 20 cups of green tea a day never had a problem it also has a lot of good benifits like one being it helps depression and stress.Read up on it in the health food section it's good.Be creative this one is a good one.

Elena benjamin says …

Are the Stevia products in th whole foods market raw stevia or stevia extracts?. I heard that US do not import Stevia raw products just only the extracts. Are the raw products in the markets are locally produced? Thank you for your information.

Debbie Elliott says …

Does Whole Foods carry NuStevia? The regular Stevia leaves an after taste to me.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@ELENA - Since the products in our stores vary, I would suggest reaching out to your local store to see what they carry and can find out about the Stevia.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DEBBIE - While that is often a product most of our stores carry, our products do vary between locations. Check with your local store to see if they carry this particular brand!

qayum says …

i have stevia powder. i like to marketing of this.

KENNETH JOHNSON says …

IVE NEVER TRIED IT BUT WANT TO,I HAVE BEEN USING ASPARTAME AND I THINK IT AFFECTING MY INSIDES. WHERE CAN I FIND STEVIA AT FASTES AND CLOSEST I LIVE IN CONWAY S.C. DOES IT SELL IN WAL MARTS AND IGA.S

Sandra says …

I grow my own Stevia in my garden. I live in Central Florida. I have enough Stevia to last me the rest of my life, as long as the plant does not die.

Laura says …

Never been able to tolerate any of the sugar substitutes, to the point of extreme headaches and malaise. I've been super hesitant to try anything, but I tried Stevia actually by accident, and it didn't seem to cause any side effects, but the aftertaste was the same, for me, and like I said, I'm extremely sensitive to all sugar substitutes. The aftertaste is enough to create a doubt, it's as strong as any sugar substitute out there, but so far, no aches or malaise. Maybe someone can explain the aftertaste that's too similar to that of the fake sugar substitutes.

Rev. David says …

Do you carry Stevia Extract (liquid)? Please advise

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@REV. DAVID - Our products vary between stores so check with your local store to see what they have in stock!

Maril says …

I found a stevia plant at the nursery and was growing it all summer. It is bountiful now and I want to harvest it. I am wondering how to use the whole leaves. Do I just pick some leaves and add it to my tea? Dry them? Crush them? freeze them? please advise.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MARIL - I found this great resource for info on harvesting the stevia plant: http://www.stevia.com/Stevia_article/Growing_Your_Own_Stevia/8077.

Joy says …

Yes, I love stevia and use it in beverages and a number of recipes. I like that fact that it does not spike my blood sugar. The brand I like is Nature's Stevia from http://www.naturesstevia.com. They have 25 different natural flavors to choose from.

Melissa says …

I got stevia from Simply Stevia and found some pretty interesting recipes there. http://www.simplystevia.com The thing I found most interesting is the different flavors they had. I would suggest trying some of those out.

Kim in MASS says …

I boughta box of 100 pks of Stevia Extract quite a few months ago, tried it in my coffee and thought it was gross. I woke up this morning, knowing I am starting fresh cutting out sugars as well as a few other unhealthy things to lose weight. I made a cup of Tazo tea and added less then a 1/4 of a packet to my hot tea....maybe even less then that, you don't need a lot. I have to say, going in it this time, more openminded, its actually not bad and it taste ok. I am sure as I use it, I will get used to it. I'm so used to the flavor or sugar. I want to lose 18 lbs that I have gained in the past 2 years. Diet and excercise starts today! I'm yelling it out into the universe!! : )

vinefire says …

Yes! Finally something about health.

James says …

I bake with stevia, use it to lightly sweeten yogurt, and in all of my tea. . . . In the Summer, I make individual bottles of flavored iced [sweet] teas, such as Whole Food's Vanilla Rooibos, and also Peppermint. ...In the Winter, my favorite hot beverage is Yogi Tea's India Spice, with a little half & half—an amazing caffeine-free chai! . . . ...Some nice compliments to hot tea are baked goods, such as pancakes and muffins. ...My gluten-free stevia sweet bread has evolved with me over the years. ...Such recipes are easy to create, and adapt—and with stevia, healthful creations. . . . Just to note: you may enjoy starting with a "shaker bottle" of a brand such as KAL—they have a mini measuring spoon inside, which will help you get a handle on the kind of amounts to use. . . . [And if you bake with it, consider buying in bulk, online—you can just refill that original bottle; start out by searching "stevia 90% extract powder".] . . . . . . . Best on your culinary journey toward better health!

Jay Batson says …

I note that Truvia is not strictly a pure Stevia product. It is manufactured by the Coca Cola & Cargill companies. It has three ingredients; the first listed is erythritol, a sugar alcohol, which Cargill makes by processing corn into a food-grade starch, which it ferments into glucose, then further processes into erythritol. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truvia ). IMO, this contributes to a flavor profile I don't care for. Personally, I prefer the taste of Nu Stevia (from Nu Naturals), also available at Whole Foods. For fairness, I note that Nu Stevia powder uses maltodextrin as a extending / pouring agent (also derived from corn); but a carrier body is needed, since it only takes a tiny amount of Stevia extract to supply needed sweetening, and users need some powder to be able to pour. The Nu Stevia liquid (which I use whenever I have a choice) has only glycerin and grain alcohol as carriers. Alternately, people can make their own stevia simple syrup (google for various recipes). I'm just now headed on a path to use this as a replacement for the liquid Nu Stevia - but we'll see how practical that is.

Teresa Holt says …

My question is same as a comment I read. Is stevia a sweetener safe for diabetics to use?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@TERESA - I would suggest reaching out directly to your healthcare provider for their advice.

Brenda says …

Is it good for people with severe artery blockages...what else would you recommend for atery blockages

karen ferrier says …

where can I get this? I have recipe calling for liquid stevia....

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KAREN - You should be able to find this at your local store. It might be in the Whole Body department.

Joan Severini says …

I have celiac disease. I have been using your stevia liquid for years now and just noted it has cross contamination with wheat in your production site. I am soooo disappointed to have to give it up. I do wish you could make it gluten free.

Bill McCracken says …

Do you have alcohol-free Stevia in your stores? The alcohol thing bothers me as a health conscious person.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BILL - Our exact products differ between stores. Check with your local store to find out exactly what types they have in stock.

Diana Novoa says …

Tried a sample of stevia in my coffee and was overwhelmingly surprised of its taste. It was the perfect blend for my daily cup of coffee. I have tried other artificial sweeteners and wasn't quite satisfied. Thanks to Stevia, not only is it healthy/natural, but I can now enjoy my cup of coffee, guilt free.

MB says …

Does Whole Foods carry natural Stevia instead of processed? My concern is making sure my family is consuming only natural ingredients so I am researching Stevia prior to using it. I came across this article: http://foodbabe.com/2013/04/25/stevia-good-or-bad/ Would love your thoughts and to know if WholeFoods carries the SweetLeaf brand of Stevia recommended in this article. Thanks.

Keith B Kirk says …

I have been using Whole Foods 365 Brand Stevia extract for the last 6 months or so and recently the Stevia packets are mixed with what appears to be granulated sugar or brown sugar of some kind. Earlier packets have not had this mixture. What gives?!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MB - The photos in this article appear to be taken from one of our stores so they should have the option recommended. Our products do differ between stores so I would suggest reaching out to your local store to find out for sure if you are making a special trip!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@KEITH - I spoke with our Private Label specialist and she mentioned that we recently switched to using organic Stevia so this might be due to the different texture you have noticed. The Stevia has always been mixed with rice maltodextrin and silicon dioxide. These ingredients could also begin to clump together when the temperatures are higher as they have been lately.

Ira Tournour says …

I notice that you have a WholeFoods brand liquid Stevia. Does it have any kosher certification?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@IRA - I checked with our private label specialist and unfortunately the 365 liquid Stevia is not certified Kosher.

Diane Fung Benson says …

I wish to know how your Stevia Extract packet that you sell at your store is processed. With which chemicals and how it is processed.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@DIANE - In addition to stevia, the 365 Stevia is made with rice maltodextrin and silicon dioxide, those will be the only ingredients in the packets.

cindyloustewart says …

I am a BIG believer in Stevia. Are there products available in your store which contain Stevia instead of other sugars? Premade or ready to mix? I am looking for pudding or jello, etc. Please Advise. Thank you! I LOVE your store too, but will you ever sell items online for shipping? I moved about an hour from Austin and I don't get into your store as often anymore. Thanks again, Cindy

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@CINDY - Our exact Stevia product options will differ. Our store in Austin can ship non-perishable products if you are looking for something in particular. You can call them directly at 512-542-2243 to find out what the have in stock.

Cynthia McHargue says …

I absolutely love using Truvia in my coffee. I am diabetic and I love sweet coffee but don't want to use artificial sweeteners or granulated sugar. It is a MUST for my household.

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