Know. Better. Updates.

Best of the Sugar Alternatives

November 5, 2012

Your favorite tv doctor and personality speaks out about artifical sweeteners. Did we mention that Stevia is an alkaline sweet grass and has been in use in South America for the past 1000 years.

Credit: SEEKINGALPHA.COM

The stevia industry recently got a big boost when cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz, on his top 25 rated Dr. Oz show aired, “Should You Give Up Artificial Sweeteners?” In the opening segment he “set the record straight” on artificial sweeteners, and millions of people were introduced to his choice for the best sugar substitute available today, naturally-derived stevia. Given the near $60 billion spent on television advertising in 2011 to get products noticed, stevia, at no cost, was introduced as the best sugar substitute to millions of viewers by a doctor who is considered by Esquire Magazine as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century. To better understand that television has a great influence on getting a product into the hands of millions of people across the world, one needs to look no further than Oprah Winfrey’s frequently-televised book club which would guarantee a writer as a best seller. However, it wasn’t only that stevia was touted as the best sugar substitute that opened people’s eyes, but it was explained to millions of viewers that, according to Dr. Oz, new research has shown that artificial sweeteners, such as Monsanto’s (MON) aspartame, Tate & Lyle’s (TATYY.PK) sucralose, and NutraSweet’s neotame could actually cause weight gain. These sweeteners may also be the cause of metabolic syndrome, an epidemic sweeping the country. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of high blood pressure, excess belly fat, and insulin resistance-and per Dr. Oz, it has been shown that just one soda with artificial sweeteners is enough to lead to this syndrome.

According to Dr. Oz, stevia appears to be the only major sweetener with no ascertainable side effects. That may come to a surprise for users of the reduced calorie sugar alcohol products such as xylitol, a popular alcohol sugar-based sweetener developed by the DuPont Company’s (DD) subsidiary, Danisco, and labeled “natural”. According to The People s Chemist, Shane Ellison, xylitol is derived from the crushed fibers of sugar cane, which uses a multi-step chemical reaction “that involves the use of sulfuric acid, calcium oxide, phosphoric acid, and active charcoal. The end product is a bleached, powdery blend of sugar alcohols that taste sweet on the tongue, but are not absorbed by the body.” He further stated when asked if xylitol is a natural product, “I don’t consider anything natural if it’s processed with man-made chemicals.” Dr. Oz pointed out the two main issues he has with sugar alcohol sweeteners. One, it is basically a laxative, and after 10 grams-or half a sugar free cookie-bloating, gas, and other digestion issues may occur. The other is that the chemicals in sugar alcohol are causing the bladder muscle to be stimulated when the bladder is not full, thus causing the user to go to the bathroom when they normally wouldn’t need to-and worse, the excess stimulation wears out the bladder.

Given that stevia has Dr. Oz’s support, there is a good chance that the use of stevia could increase, and this bodes well for investment potential. The question is, which companies selling, manufacturing, or growing have the best chance at increased profits? Obviously, Coca Cola (KO) and PepsiCo (PEP) are two companies that have added stevia in their products worldwide and probably will continue to do so as the popularity of stevia continues to increase. But, as an investor, can you see big profits investing in either company on a stevia play? You probably cannot. However, there are some smaller bottlers and growers that might have better upside potential as more main stream media outlets, like the Dr. Oz show, continue to tout the benefits of stevia, and the public continues to demand more stevia products.

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