With the flood of alternative sweeteners on the market in recent years, you would think at least a few of them would be healthy. For example, more people are switching away from Splenda, the very popular artificial sweetener in the little yellow packets, to Whole Earth, a zero calorie option in similarly sized green packets.
To be perfectly honest, I got pretty excited when I first learned about the Whole Earth sweetener. The company markets its products as completely natural. A cursory search indicates that the flagship product is made with a blend of stevia and monk fruit extract.
The same is emblazoned on the front of the box (400 packets) or jar (spoonable style) with the USDA Organic and NonGMO Verified stamps of approval.
Whole Earth Sweetener
Mmmm. Nothing artificial? Sounds great!
However, before buying some to try, I dug in further to take a peek behind the marketing spin.
Is the Whole Earth Sweetener 100% natural as advertised?
What I found is that Whole Earth actually has a number of sweeteners. At the time of this review, the offerings include: (1)
- Stevia leaf and Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Raw Sugar and Stevia Baking Blend
- 100% Erythritol
- Organic Agave 50 (50% fewer calories than pure agave nectar)
- Organic Honey 50 (50% fewer calories than honey)
- Turbinado Raw Cane 50 (packets of “raw” cane sugar and stevia blend)
The third option is a no-go because it is made with erythritol, a sugar alcohol with potential side effects.
Option 4 is not healthy because agave nectar is highly processed and not much better than the big bugaboo high fructose corn syrup.
Option 5 is made with processed honey. Unless honey is raw, it should be avoided.
This leaves us with option 1, the stevia and monk fruit blend. At face value, it looked good to me, so I investigated further.
Feeling encouraged, my hopes were, unfortunately, quickly dashed. Here’s the composition of the Whole Earth stevia and monk fruit blend sweetener.
Erythritol, Stevia Leaf Extract, Natural Flavors, Monk Fruit Extract.
You really have to wonder HOW Whole Earth Sweetener Co. gets away with marketing a product as a stevia/monk fruit extract sweetener when the VERY FIRST INGREDIENT is neither of these!
This is yet another example of why you must dig deep…reading ingredients and inquire about processing before jumping on the bandwagon of a new product.
Is Whole Earth Sweetener Safe?
It seems that Whole Earth is using the same marketing ploy as Swerve sweetener. This product markets itself as a natural option too… “ingredients found in select fruits and starchy root vegetables, and contains no artificial ingredients, preservatives or flavors”.
Examination of the label uncovers that the stuff is primarily erythritol, a sugar alcohol with the potential for negative side effects including disruption of beneficial gut microbes.
In my view, most people take a far too flippant attitude toward the health of their beneficial gut bacteria. Do they not realize that these little critters control the vast majority of your immunity, thus determining whether you are healthy or not?
No thanks…I’ll pass on the erythritol!
The “Natural Flavors” Rabbit Hole
The “natural flavors” in the Whole Earth stevia/monk fruit blend are a big no-no too.
In fact, there are more natural flavors in this sweetener than monk fruit extract!
Natural flavors are the big catch-all ingredient for food manufacturers. It is a mystery mix that can include all sorts of industrial additives that companies don’t have to disclose on labels. Manufacturers produce many of these using toxic processes and dangerous chemicals and solvents. (2)
Is Whole Earth Sweetener Healthy?
However, you should ultimately be looking to only use 100% truly natural alternative sweeteners.
Wouldn’t it be great if Whole Earth came out with a stevia/monkfruit blend with nothing else in it? Or, a sucanat/stevia or maple syrup/stevia blend where you could use half as much in your baking or on your pancakes? These types of products would be truly helpful as well as healthy.
Relying on a currently compromised product like the Whole Earth stevia & monk fruit blend should be a temporary step only. Your use of a product like this should be as brief as possible as you continue to move toward conquering sugar addiction for good.