When we want to use a natural no calorie sweetener, we have had only a Hobson’s choice. Until now.
But about two weeks ago another natural no calorie sweetener began to be available in supermarkets and supercenters like Wal-Mart and Target. This new sweetener is ready to challenge stevia, which previously had been our only such choice. Nectresse (pronounced neck-TRESS) is the name of the new sweetener.
I have started using Nectresse myself, and while I have a few reservations about it, this new sweetener promises to be big. It comes from McNeil Nutritionals, which also markets Splenda, the nation’s top selling low calorie sweetener.
Another reason why I’m sure that Nectresse will be big is the marketing muscle behind McNeil Nutritionals. This rather low-profile company is one of about 230 subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson. Another J&J subsidiary that many of us are familiar with is LifeScan, which makes the OneTouch meters and test strips that many people with diabetes use.
But McNeil Nutritionals’ flagship brand, Splenda, is artificial, while Nectresse has nothing but natural ingredients. McNeil Nutritionals says that Nectresse “derives its natural sweetness from monk fruit, a small green melon that grows on lush vines in remote mountain regions.”
Monk fruit, which some of us may know as luo han guo, is a fruit in the gourd family native to China. “The first record of the monk fruit appears during the 13th century in reference to its use by the monks of Guilin,” according to the Chinese historical records.
Monk Fruit Extract is about 150 times sweeter than sugar and contributes zero calories per serving to Nectresse, a McNeil Nutritionals spokesperson told me. But I was surprised that the Ingredients List shows Monk Fruit Extract as the third ingredient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the food industry companies list their ingredients “in descending order of predominance by weight.”
The first ingredient of Nectresse is erythritol, one of the sugar alcohols. Erythritol has a glycemic index of zero and provides 0.2 calories per gram. The second ingredient of Nectresse is sugar — plain table sugar or sucrose. It has a GI of 65 and provides 4 calories per gram. Then in third places on the list of the ingredients in Nectresse comes monk fruit, which doesn’t have a GI rating yet. The fourth and final ingredient is molasses, which also doesn’t have a GI, but is a by-product of making sugar cane into sugar.
Yet, Nectresse meets the FDA’s criteria for non calorie foods, a spokesperson for McNeil Nutritionals told me, because it has less than 5 calories per serving. “Nectresse, like other no-calorie sweeteners, has a small amount of carbohydrate (1-2 grams per serving) from other food ingredients to provide needed volume and texture.”
The company sent me a sample box of 40 packets, which have a suggested retail price of $3.99. Since I prefer not to use packets except to take with me when I eat out, I bought a canister of 140 servings for $6.99 at my local supermarket. The canister states that ¼ of a teaspoon of Nectresse equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.
While I sweeten few foods, I do add it to herbal tea and sometimes to blueberries and plain yogurt. It is indeed sweet and I have no fault to find with its taste. I haven’t noticed any bitter aftertaste that some people find with stevia. For them in particular, Nectresse could be an excellent choice.
My sweetener of choice has been a liquid stevia from NuNaturals. When I asked the spokesperson for McNeil Nutritionals if they plan to provide Nectresse in liquid form, he replied, “We can’t comment on upcoming forms at this time.”
For now I will continue to use Nectresse and liquid stevia interchangeably. I will compare how I like their taste and what effect, if any, they have on my blood sugar.
For all people with diabetes one of these two natural no calorie sweeteners must be our sweetener of choice. We need to avoid artificial high carb and high GI foods, and almost all of us need to watch how many calories we consume.
This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.
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I use a 50/50 mix of Nectresse and Stevia and I find the taste much more palatable than the individual sweeteners on their own. I made cafe con leche with this formula for my wife and she thought I made it with sugar. I will be using this formula to make homemade blueberry jam tonight.
Thanks for sharing your formula!
I have started using KAL brand stevia for my baked goods, as I’m trying to get away from artificial sweeteners. As long as I don’t go over a teaspoon of the KAL (1 tsp = 1 cup sugar), it tastes fine.
If you can remember back 10-12 years, I created Myra’s Cheesecake and other low-carb recipes using nut flours. I’m now developing even more recipes with the object being grain and sugar-free with no artificial sweeteners. I’ve started to incorporate coconut flour, which adds lightness and absorbs liquids better than almond flour alone.
I love your idea of using coconut flour!
I bought Skinny Girl brand liquid monk fruit yesterday and used it in tea. Later that evening I had hives on my stomach and diarrhea. Boo, I was hoping to be able to use it. Trying Skinny Girl organic Stevia today, hoping for better results. Got these at Walmart, must be new. Have agave extract too, anyone use that???
Stevia is my sweetener of choice. I usually buy the NuNaturals brand because I like its bulking agent the best.
However, please look into agave some more. It is perhaps the very worst sweetener on the market, because it is almost pure fructose. Have you read my articles about fructose?
I also have had bloating and gut issues with Nectresse. I’m in the bathroom every time
I put it in my coffee or tea. I’m going to stop
for a week and try it again to make sure.
We purchased this from Wal-Mart for my wife’s morning coffee.
After a few days, she was bed ridden with a 104+ fever and that lasted for about 36 hours.. when she felt better her Tongue appeared to be burned and she developed hives…. (Needless to say she felt like crap and stopped drinking her morning coffee)
After a week of feeling ok then fine, she started back to her routine.. Holy Crap! Every joint is swollen, she cant move and her pain is un manageable.. I think we figured it out!!..
I got out the Benadryl, and loaded her with the maximum dosage.. Its been a few hours and now and she is starting to move around the house..
This Crap has no record of this type of reaction, except the hives..
She has always been irritated by sugar alcohols, but this reaction is Severe to say the least… I am thinking pure cane sugar isn’t so bad after all.
My wife brought Nectresse home a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been using it in my other wise plain black coffee and every time I do my blood sugar goes through the roof. Based on the ingredients that shouldn’t be happening. I don’t understand it but I’m done with it.
I just started using nectrrese, and have had migraines since. Has anyone else experienced headaches or migraines?
I have been using nectrresse for more than a month and I belive I need to quit also. I am also having issues with bloating and gas. I guess I will be giving up any sweetener in my tea.
I have been using nectresse for 3 weeks and think I may need to quit. Bloating, gas, diarrhea – just made the connection today that my stomach / gut upset came on shortly after starting to use nectresse daily. I think I just need to learn to drink my coffee sans sugar / sugar substitute.
I tried Nectresse for the first time last week and was pleased with the taste and with the idea of using a natural no/low calorie sweetener. However, just as Carol related, I immediately experienced diarrhea for several days, but did not link it to this product. Today, I exploded! I will go back to Splenda; I’ve never had a problem with that. I did have a problem with Stevia. Guess my system is pretty sensitive.
I use Splenda liberally and have never had a problem. But,then, I have no allergies to anything. I’ve started using Nectresse and like it and will use it as a sugar substitute for cooking, but prefer the texture of Splenda. I do wonder though about the safety of Splenda though I’ve been using it for years. I haven’t had so much as a cold for years. If I should get sick in the future, I can blame on Splenda~
I bought “Stevia in the Raw” from my local supermarket today without paying attention to the label. When I got home I realized the first ingredient listed was Dextrose! Are the liquid NuNaturals Stevia and Monk Fruit pure? Has anyone baked with a liquid sweetener?
Yes, we can get pure stevia in liquid form. I don’t think so, however, for monk fruit. We can also get stevia that uses inulin, a good fiber, as a bulking agent in some powder forms, particularly from NuNaturals.
I was using a jam sweetened with Splenda and found I consistently had migraines. I stopped the splenda and no more headaches.
I live in Peru and they have developed a natural sweetener whcih comes from the “yacón” friut. It has no calories and leaves no aftertaste. Do you know anything about it?
Yes. Lots of people in South America use yacon root as a sweetener. It is a low-calorie sweetener, but not a no-calorie sweetener. See http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-navitas-naturals-organic-yacon-syrup-i132197
So this is why I use only stevia, which really does have no calories.
I have been using nectresse for about 1mnth 1/2 my sugars have running high and that is very very abnormal for me im insulin dependent and i control my a1c and my daily sugars very well … My sugars usually run in the 80’s now im seeing 124 this is the only thing i have changed in my diet and i feel fine besides the frustration of my sugars being higher than normal..i used to use stevia im going back to that tomorrow … I do believe that Nectresse is not all it seems to be watch your sugars!!!
Why is it that so many people are focused on zero calorie products. If people spent some time educating themselves on proper nutrition and “exercise”, or wouldnt be wasting their time buying into this “sizzle”.
If life were that easy where one could simply take a pill….
How come every time I use Stevia or any of the other similar sweeteners my head feels like a cotton ball and I can not focus…like a really, really BAD head cold?
Sorry to bust your bubble but this sweetener uses GMO corn and sugar beets…stick to the all natural stevia .
I find xylitol from birch much better than any other natural sweetener and looks and tastes just like sugar. Also known to fight tooth decay.
It is pure without any added ingredients and no aftertaste.
David, on the topic of Splenda, can you shed some light on what current research/experience shows about the effect of sucralose (Splenda) and maltodextrin on blood glucose levels?
I have been trying to find consensus opinions on these questions, but the assertions on third-party websites are neither consistent nor illuminating.
Sucralose (Splenda) has no calories/no carbs and therefore no effect on blood glucose levels. However, it is bulked up with maltodextrin, which does have calories/carbs and therefore may have some effect. However, it is so minimal that it would be hard to measure.
Myrna, I’ve never tried maltitol or xylitol. I’ new to all this……
Thank you both so much for responding. I just bought liquid organic Stevia with a little trepidation. I hope! it doesn’t have the same result as Nectresse :-0
You may be one of the very few people who has a gastrointestinal problem with erythritol. Does eating other sugar alcohols cause this problem for you? It’s the common side effect 0f sugar alcohols like maltitol or xylitol, etc. It’s not supposed to happen with erythritol because of its smaller particle size, but there’s always a chance.
Hi Carol, sorry to hear you are having some uncomfortable issues with Nectresse. I’ve been using it since mid-September and have had no side effects. I only use Nectresse and Stevia now in my coffee.
Sorry this isn’t about your question, but I have to tell someone knowledgable about this. I was using Splenda with no side affects, then decided to use Nectresse. After a few days, I had a little diarrhea but nothing I couldn’t handle. The next day, I EXPLODED! — so stopped using Nectresse and it stopped. Was it just me? or has anyone else complained about it? Maybe I’m allergic to monk fruit ( which would be strange)!
I would be curious to get feedback from anyone who cooks or bakes with the product to see how successful they are.
I just heard about Nectresse, but I originally found luo han guo years ago, sold under the name Slim Sweet. I think it will be a good balance to erythritol because the latter has a cooling effect on the tongue, while luo han guo has a warming effect. In fact, I found that luo han guo reminded me of brown sugar with the Slim Sweet. I don’t know if that’s been dealt with in Nectresse.
I’m revamping a lot of my recipes to use natural sweeteners instead of artificial ones, and to be able to add something other than Truvia would be great.
I’ll look for the liquid version, as I’m going to attempt developing naturally sweetened sodas using the Soda Stream and natural sweeteners and flavors.
Yes, Myra – the cheesecake queen – is back!
I’m sorry .. I mispoke .. there IS a liquid Monk Fruit from NuNaturals … I assumed it was Nectresse when I saw Monk Fruit. I apologize for the mistake. I wonder if you get more Monk Fruit in the liquid form?
I was at Walmart yesterday and noticed NuNaturals does make Nectresse in liquid form now. I have been using the Nectresse packets for about a week and I have no problems with the taste. I was a Splenda user (coffee only) but will definately continue to use Stevia and Nectresse instead of Splenda in my coffee.
I’m glad that you found it in liquid form at Walmart. This was the first I heard that we could get liquid Nectresse. But just to be clear, McNeil Nutritionals is the company that makes Nectresse. NuNaturals is another company and it is their liquid stevia that is my favorite way to use stevia.
With the track record this company has with Splenda, I really do not trust them, so I am staying away for now. I would bet they will pull Splenda off the shelves once they get everyone hooked on this because of all the backlash and decreased sales now that people realize how bad it is. Remember, they told us Splenda was all natural and made from sugar.