How Sweet It Is

The plant-derived, zero-calorie sweetener stevia has been gaining in popularity since a form of it was approved as a food ingredient by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last December. Although it had long been sold as a dietary supplement, stevia became available in selected soft drinks as a result of FDA approval. This coincided with major advertising campaigns to promote the stand-alone versions of the brands approved for use in food, Truvia and PureVia, which are sold in single-serving packets. Other brands available in packets include SweetLeaf, OnlySweet, and Stevia Extract In The Raw. With so many options on the supermarket shelf, people with diabetes are now less likely to view stevia with the confusion we noted in a blog entry just last year (“Stevia: A Sweetener Shrouded in Mystery and Debate“). Still, many of us have not yet tried the sweetener, for reasons that may include habit, safety concerns, or simple lack of interest.


But there may be another reason why some people don’t buy stevia: They’re not sure how it will taste. A recent article on the women’s Web magazine doubleX attempts to fill this gap, as well as provide a general introduction to stevia. To judge the taste of stevia, the author assembled six friends who frequently used zero-calorie sweeteners, including two with diabetes. The panel tasted a variety of stevia-sweetened beverages — from brands like Tropicana, Vitamin Water, and SoBe — and also tried several brands of stevia-based sweeteners in tea or coffee.

Overall, the panel found stevia disappointing, especially in the bottled beverages. Their main complaint, however, was that the drinks were too sweet — something that could presumably be controlled when using the sweetener at home. But most of the panel also noticed an unpleasant aftertaste even when the sweetness wasn’t overpowering, and only one member said she would switch to using stevia over Splenda as her coffee sweetener.

What do you think about stevia — are you interested in using it? If you have tried it, are you satisfied with its taste? Do you have safety concerns about stevia or other zero-calorie sweeteners? What is your favorite sweetener? Leave a comment below!

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  • Robert cacace

    i have been using PureVia and Truvia for about six months now in hot coffee or cold iced tea. I like the sweetness factor, and these items have not caused any allergic reactions – like i sometimes get from malitol, sorbitol, or sarrachine.

  • Jim

    I tried Stevia and I did not like the taste of it. I used it more than once but I couldn’t get used to it.I prefer Splenda.

  • Joan Russell

    Articles like this one is such a help. I often overlook new products esp. if expensive…I use Splenda but it too can be too sweet, sometimes I have used half Splenda and half regular sugar…Splenda in jams and jellies is simply NOT edible, off taste and nasty.

  • Lisa Smith RN BSN CDE

    I have used Stevia – and now am using Truvia. I really like the Truvia. A little goes a long way, and there is no aftertaste.

  • Fred Schumann

    I’ve been using a Stevia product for about four months now. I am a Type 2 diabetic. I havn’t tried any soft drinks yet and have only used it in my coffee and at times in my morning high fiber cold cereal.
    It really works well in the cereal and I don’t need very much. It works OK in coffee (I mix it first with the milk or creamer. It seems to work better that way) and it does not leave a noticable aftertaste.
    I will continue to use it because I like using a natural product and believe the other sweetners might have srious side effects with long term use.

  • Cyndi

    Tried Truvia – used it in hot tea and on fruit. Did not like it at all. Had on overpowering fruity sweetness to it that made the tea and my grapefruit 1/2 taste “off”. I’ve never had a problem with good old Equal (aspartame) although I have to admit I have switched to Splenda for cooking because it doesn’t break down in heat.
    I will definitely NOT be changing to stevia.

  • Lena

    I tried Stevia and could not stand the taste. I had already gotten use to Splenda and have not found anything any better. I still have the stevia and may have to just put it in the garbage. It was that bad to me……..

  • Dale

    Trader Joes has a pure Stevia extract that I have been using in iced tea for over a year now. I find it good tasting with no unpleasant after taste. I buy the small (about $9.00) bottle. It is about the size of a small seasoning shaker bottle. It has no added fillers and is equivalent to 660 teaspoons.

  • Cheryl

    I was very disappointed with Stevia. There was absolutely no sweetness to it at all. After their 3 spoons in my tea, I quit and used sugar.I will never buy it again.

  • Steve

    Be aware that not all stevia products have the same taste; some are virtually tasteless (just sweet, like sugar), but others have a bitter or other unpleasant taste. I have found that I cannot tolerate some brands, while others are just like sugar. Also, I find that a very small quantity of pure stevia is needed to sweeten, much less than sugar, and when used in too large a quantity then the taste is compromised. When you hit on the right quantity and type, however, I think it is the best sweetener—no worries for chemicals as with artificial sweeteners which I avoid at all costs.

  • Vonnie De Rico

    I have used Stevia for years. I really like the taste and a little does go a long way. I like the fact there are no chemicals and aspartame added in – gotta be better for you.

  • Ms Hudson

    I tried Stevia on many occasions, trying to acquire a taste for it after reading how much better it would be for diabetics. I now use Splenda and love it’s taste but have safety concerns with it.
    I CAN NOT stand the taste of Stevia in anything I have tried yet, but truly feel I have given it a fair try. IF they can get rid of both the after taste and the cramping that accompanies it then I would once again give it a try in hopes I am using what is best for my body.

    PLEASE, can’t anyone find something that is both normal to use and that tastes good????

  • Kris

    I, too, had high expectations of Stevia. Well, to my disappointment, I tasted it for many days after . . . too sweet when adding to my drinks or meals . . . too much of a bitter after taste left in my mouth in which there was NOTHING that would get rid of it! SPLENDA!! I’ll stick to my Splenda! I also gave Truvia a try . . . somewhat better but doesn’t compare to Splenda! Waste of money! I gave Stevia my best shot . . . used it numerous times and got the same result . . . YUCK!
    Besides leaving you with a bad taste in my mouth . . . my family told me that it also left me with bad breath . . . I’m sure that if it smelled as bad as it tasted . . . result . . . bad breath!

  • ypsi-slim

    I first tried Stevia, when it was considered a nutritional supplement, from Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I mainly use this in drinks and found that both had a funny aftertaste. I then tried Truvia and it was just sweet with no aftertaste. I then tried Sun Crystals which is also fine – sweeter than Truvia per serving, and less expensive. I have uses this in ice green tea, espresso drinks, cole slaw and cucumber salad. I don’t know if you can use it in other cooked foods or in baking.

  • Marianne

    About 2 wks ago, I switched from Splenda to Stevia. Splenda is way too sweet for me, plus, it has sucralose, which I have read, gives you toxins after a long period of time. It took me only a couple days to get used to Stevia. I put it in my coffee with creamer. There is very little aftertaste. The best thing I found with Stevia is that it is not too sweet, that I’m craving more sugar. It really is true, at least to me, that the sweet taste of Splenda, makes me want more.

  • Henry Ford

    I have tried several brands of Stevia and always been disappointed in the taste. Stevia does NOT taste like sugar to me. It has almost an off-taste odor when you eat it, and afterwards has a lingering after taste that is nothing like sugar and rather unpleasant. Until they learn to ‘process’ Stevia to make it more sugar-like I cannot see how the public will accept it as an all around sweetener. The only think going for it is that for a moment it does taste quite sweet. But, even at this point it is a different sweet taste than real sugar. Stevia, a disappointment!

  • priscilla north

    i like splenda. stevia is bitter.

  • micha

    Truvia is not calorie free and stevia in general cannot be used in cooking. However, it is less sweet than splenda and that can be something in its favor if you don’t want an extreme sweetness.

  • P. Darman

    I have two boxes of stevia collecting dust. I tried it in my tea and coffee, and it was lousy. No sweetness at all. The texture was kinda cool, almost like raw sugar. I’m a true blue splenda fan.

  • Dianne

    I use Stevia all the time and don’t notice any aftertaste. I haven’t tried any of the softdrinks yet. But for drinks at home, cereal, tea, coffee, etc. I think it is just fine.

  • Shirley Jones

    I love it!

  • LauraAnne

    would much rather use a natural sweetener over an artifical one any day. Also if you have ever used artifical sweetners, they all have an after taste. I wonder who did the testing. Was if funded by brands of artifical sweetners because they have competition now. And there are many side affects to artifical sweeteners known for years. Anything natural, especially being diabetic seems to me the best route to take. We have enough chemicals to deal with in having to take medicines. And less is better in sweeting anything too- companies seem over sweeten all cereals, drinks etc. Natural is my choice ;]

  • Donald

    I tried Truvia in my coffee one morning, didn’t taste as sweet as Splenda, used pack to pack. I didn’t like the aftertaste, BUT worse was that it gave me the runs. Used Splenda a few days and tried Truvia again. Again, I got the runs. Don’t know if I’ll try it a third time. Sure glad I bought the small box.

  • Gloria Callahan

    I have been using Stevia for years and it depends on the BRAND. There is only one brand I can tolerate and you need VERY VERY little to sweeten a drink and I find no unplesant aftertaste. The brand name is KAL ( pure stevia extract) and not every health food store carries it.

  • J B Drueke, MD

    I’m diabetic and have used most of the artificial sweeteners and find little or no difference between them. My regular sweetener is generic Aspartame because it costs less than half what any of the others cos.

  • allan

    This test should have been blind.

    I grow the plant that is somewhat controversial until now.

    I harvest the leaves, make a tea, extract it down by simmering the liquid, and use that as a sweetening agent.
    I like it better than any other artficial sweetener.

    I do believe that products sweetened with this product need to do more testing to insure a true sweetener.

    I don’t get the aftertaste problem. I have never had an aftertaste.

    p.s. Has anyone tried BLUE AGUAVE, a liquid sweetener from the succulent plant.
    It’s new, and is slow to raise glucose.

  • Randy

    I’ve used stevia as an addition to my mixture of aspartame and sacharin. I adjust down the amount of Equal/SweetNLow I put in and then use stevia. Don’t care for the straight stevia, as it seems to have an aftertaste to me.
    Don’t do the artificially sweetened soft drinks as the aftertaste isn’t agreeable with me. Funny I get no aftertaste using these in tea…

  • MJS

    I am allergic to ALL artificial sweeteners, they cause my throat to tighten up. I’ve only tried liquid Stevia and couldn’t get it right – too strong (funny taste) or not sweet enough. Maybe I’ll try another form and see if it works for me. I have type 2 diabetes and so far have to use real sugar in everything and count the carbs. I did succeed in using Spenda & sugar almost 1/2 & 1/2 (little more sugar than Splenda)for canning some pears, and that worked out all right, but even a true 1/2 & 1/2 blend caused my throat to tighten up slightly.

  • Linda

    I am not diabetic, but my 11 yr old grandson is . He is type 1 and uses a insulin pump. I love Splenda and have been useing it for a long time.
    He has never known any other taste, but he loves it also. I also cook some dishes with it and it seems to work just fine. My husband was type 2
    and we became so used to the Splenda taste that the real sugar is no longer even thought of.

  • Vern Olson

    Over the History of the world ,all goverment health plans have failed or are failing and causing severe financial problems for their countries. We have in USA the best health care system and the best doctors available in the world. All, that has to be done is monitor the drug industry , hospital charges , malpractice insurance and the doctor’s charges more closely and thus regulate the cost to the public by the goverment control. LOOK at what damage GOVERMENT control did with ANTI-TRUST laws and set our country’s financial growth back for centuries. Vern

  • paula

    I have tried truvia I like it better than splenda. To me its not as sweet as splenda. Being diabetic has draw backs no matter what you use. I have found all zero calorie sweeteners have for one reason or another something I don’t like. It comes down to the lesser of the evils for me,or the one on sale at the moment.

  • Still too fat

    Stevia, like all sugar substitutes is far sweeter than sugar. Even if it did show up in processed foods (like diet soda) manufacturers would use too much of it and the products would be overpoweringly sweet, just like diet sodas using Nutrasweet. I get a kick out of advertising that says “Tastes just like our regular product!” Well, yeah, if you made the regular product with five times as much sugar and something to leave a bitter aftertaste, sure.

    Stevia’s aftertaste is very similar to black licorice, which I find is one of those flavors people either love or hate. I don’t mind it, but I find that for most things, it’s just easier to use real sugar and consume less of it. After all, the goal for diabetics is not to eliminate all glucose from our system, but to regulate it. For some, sugar substitutes may help, but for me, I’d rather have four ounces of real cola a couple of times a week than a gallon of diet every day.

  • patricia knipper

    Yes, I have tried the individual packets of Stevia and loved it sprinkled on fruit or cereal. I never used it for cooking but the look, texture and tase reminded me more of sugar. Prior to that I was an avid splenda user.

  • Irene Hesse

    I WILL NOT use the poison Splenda. I tried stevia and find it does leave a nasty aftertaste. I then tried the new product “sun crystals” which is an all natural blend of stevia and pure cane sugar. Still an aftertaste, BUT I found if I add a wee bit more cane sugar it absolutely works!

  • Irene Hesse

    Shout out to “Posted by allan | Nov 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm”
    I have tried Blue Agave and it is FANTASTIC! I reminds me of the taste of cotton candy, but then I always did like cotton candy!! I use it in tea with a product called “True Lemon” which is a crystallized form of lemon with a packet equal to 25% vitamin C. I have even baked and cooked with agave nectar – sparingly as it is expensive – but so worth the peace of mind as it is low GI.

  • Don Manuel

    Having tried these newer “plant” sweetners I found stevia disappointing, especially in the bottled drinks, the main problem for me was the drinks were too sweet — I am able to control when using the sweetener at home. But most of the panel also noticed an unpleasant , this makes it a deal braker, beside the price, very expensive.
    I am try to quit the sugar all together, or as much as possible, stop the soda (diet) and lost 40 pounds in a years time, fruit is now my big down fall in keep a low BG 70-100 range, rearely if ever hit the goal, have increased my walking, some help, but still crave sweets, still deal with the thirst, and have to empy my ostomy bad too many times during the night. Been drinking seltler water with fresh lemon, lime—there has to be a better way, hmmm no cakes, cookies, candy, pancakes, waffles, tortillas flour, and now whole wheat grains are a farce, according to Dr. Johnny Bondon (sic)—of course for $200.00 he will tell you how to handle “your” cravings, soon we will get some help, diabetes friends enjoy life, even if ain’t sweet.