Honey or Stevia: The Choice Is Inconceivable
Remember the “Battle of Wits” scene from the Princess Bride? As a reminder, Wesley/The Man
in Black a.k.a the Dread Pirate Roberts is sitting across from the really annoying bald dude,
Pizzini who constantly shouts “Inconceivable” at everyone in the movie? They are going round
and round about the Iocaine which is in one of two glasses of wine. “It is odorless, tasteless,
dissolves instantly in liquid, and is among the more deadlier poisons known to man.” They go
round and round for a few minutes trying to outfox one another as to which goblet of wine has
the poison. They are attempting to outfox one another, bluffing, trying to appear overconfident
in an effort to not give away which goblet they want the other to drink. Remember the goblets of
wine look and smell the same, but only one has the poison. So what would you do? The answer
is not so clear, it reminds me how many people feel about the choices between naturally
occurring sugar and artificial sugars such as Stevia. Which is better and which choice is
First brief history lesson surrounding naturally occurring sugar and counterfeit imitation,
artificial sweetener. In 510 BC, Persia invaded India and discovered a plant that “gives us honey
without the bees.” Sugar was discovered by western Europeans as a result of the Crusades in the
eleventh century AD. The subsequent centuries saw a major expansion of western European
trade with the East, including the importation of sugar. Currently, the average American
consumes 130 pounds per year, most of it in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Other
additives that are commonly used today as a replacement for sugar are aspartame, cyclamate,
saccharin, stevia, Sucralose, and a wide variety of naturally formed substitutes such as Brazzein,
Thaumatin, Curculin, Monellin, and others. Some of their perceived advantages are lack of
calories (sweetened weight loss food), dental care, diabetes (sweetened food), cost, and other
factors. This is highly debatable as artificial sweeteners may cause a chemical reaction in the
brain to make the individual still crave sweets – and in fact, the average artificial sweetener user
weighs more than the average real sugar user. So much for Diet Cokes!
Let’s talk through a question I get all the time “what is better honey or stevia in my tea?” And I
will explain to you the answer I will give to my clients and what I chose to do. Note, two
Honey is naturally occurring and requires minimal processing from the moment the beekeeper
takes it from the hive to when it can be used in a bear-shaped container in your local grocery
store. Our bodies recognize honey as food, and our brains know what to do with honey. Once we
ingest honey, insulin will begin to rise to meet the demands of the honey and the process of our
blood sugar rising starts. In 20 or so minutes, our blood sugar will go down at the predictable rate
in which a bunch of other negative things happens such as our energy levels will crash and our
Stevia’s status as naturally occurring is debatable. It originates from at the plane Stevia the
sunflower family commonly known as candy leaf, sweet leaf, or sugar leaf. Stevia is
a tender to Brazil and Paraguay. At this point right here, I would agree it is still naturally
occurring, and I have heard of a few dedicated people taking stevia plants and grinding the
leaves and doing some things to them. If you have such a plant on your windowsill and it still
looks like a plant, then have at it.
However, 99.9% of people out there will want to take the Stevia from the store which has been
altered and modified to be as confusing and overwhelming to our brain as possible. In the United
States, high-purity stevia glycoside extracts are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and
allowed as ingredients in food products, but stevia leaf and crude extracts do not have GRAS or
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in food. Confused yet? What is the
difference between an extract and what is a crude extract? I have no idea.
I just got back from a Food conference where a Stevia representative went to great lengths to tell
me how wrong I was for believing Stevia to not be considered safe in food. She went on a
tangent about FDA approval schedules and the Trump administration. Sure, I will give her the
benefit of the doubt that the government moves slowly. However, food is food. The main reason
I do not recommend my clients to consume artificial sweeteners and (I am including Stevia) is it
confuses our brains. Artificial sweeteners have been described as sugar methadone. Simply put,
they let our brain think that something sweet is coming into our bodies by turning on the
receptors of the pleasure centers.
So to get back to the tea dilemma, I do not add either to mine. I have learned to drink it without.
As far as what you or anyone else should do, my reluctant recommendation, I repeat reluctant is
to use a tiny amount of honey with the intention of weaning yourself off as quickly as possible. I
would never advocate going artificial.
Which leads me to the closing dialogue of the “Battle of Wits”. As a reminder, Buttercup is
Wesley’s one true love (sometimes Claire Underwood on House of Cards, but not for a good long
time). They start talking as soon as Pizzini drops dead from drinking his goblet of wine.
Buttercup: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
Man in Black: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to
And there it is!
Tomorrow’s topic: Sugar, how bad can it be?
To watch the scene: