Is Stevia Safe?

A. Stevia has been touted as a "natural" sweetener and an alternative to sugar, but is it safe for us to consume? Though it seems this non-caloric sweetener just made its name recently, the stevia plant has a long history of use as a sweetener in South America. These newer stevia sweeteners—sold under brand names like Truvia, Stevia in the Raw or OnlySweet, and in blends with sugar, such as PureVia or Born Sweet Zing (at 8 to 10 calories per teaspoon)—include a highly purified extract of stevia called Rebaudioside A (a.k.a. Rebiana or Reb A). Reb A is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not raise blood sugar.

Until December 2008, stevia and its derivatives could be sold in the U.S. only as dietary supplements, due to safety concerns. In the 1980s, animal studies linked stevia with adverse effects on fertility and reproductive development and possible genetic mutations. But in 2008, the makers of Truvia and PureVia submitted research to the Food and Drug Administration regarding Reb A's safety and petitioned for it to become a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredient.

The FDA affirmed, and still maintains, the GRAS status only for highly purified stevia extracts (Rebaudioside A, or Reb A). Whole stevia leafs, including products containing "crude stevia extract" or "whole leaf stevia," are not classified as GRAS because data is lacking on their effects on the cardiovascular, urinary and reproductive systems.

However, some consumer advocacy groups, like The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), criticize the quality of the studies (which are often done by the manufacturers themselves) and think the Reb A's GRAS status was granted prematurely. "In the past, FDA protocol required repeated testing in two separate animal species prior to approval, but in this case it didn't," says David Schardt, nutrition expert with CSPI. "We are not warning people to avoid Reb A, but the public should be aware that the FDA did not follow all the usual safeguards."

Despite being "natural," sugar substitutes like Stevia that earn the GRAS status usually don't have as much safety data as approved additives, meaning it's worth using Stevia sparingly—the daily acceptable dietary intake, or ADI, for Stevia is 9 packets.

Bottom Line: The FDA considers Reb A a safe sugar substitute, but has not approved other forms of stevia. If you want to use stevia, we suggest sticking with Reb A (look for it on the ingredient label), and using it sparingly.

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That comment about poison ivy is a load of crap! And why is it posted here? Lol!
Anyway, I was reading up on stevia because I had a reaction to a protein powder sweetened with stevia. I've come to the conclusion that either I'm sensitive to the extract or there was something else in the mix. I'll have to try other stevia products to find out and see if raw stevia gives the same reaction. Im not sure how best to describe my reaction except it made my body feel mildly sick for about 10 minutes, from just having a sip. I get a worse reaction with say aspartame which, soon as it hits my mouth and before swallowing, makes my arms and legs feel like they want to vomit! Apertame turns into a poisonous substance when heated above 86 degrees, and some people don't have the enzymes to break it down, thus causing the reaction. Living in texas, its easy to imagin that most aspatame products reach that temp before hitting the shelf. If anyone is curious what that feels like just imagining what it being queesy feels like, take that feeling out of your stomach and put it everywhere else. Hehe


04/07/2012 - 12:43pm

I have used various brands of Stevia and love KAL pure stevia extract the best. It has no fillers and has a pure sweet taste unlike any other. Just a pinch of the pure stevia powder is sufficient. I had to use 4 of the green Stevia packets with fillers for my tea or fresh lime juice in the past. Each packet is so full of fillers and very little of the stevia powder itself and the taste was not the best (not really sweet). Now I have to use just a tiny pinch of KAL stevia extract powder to enjoy the sweet taste, which is pure sweetness with no after-taste. No comparison at all. It SEEMS a bit pricey at around $19 for a 3.5 ounce bottle, but since I need to use such a tiny amount to sweeten drinks and food, the bottle lasts me 5 months, which comes up to an average of $4 per month. The green packets cost about $5 per box at the grocery store and I had to use 2 boxes each month, so on a per month/ per use basis, the KAL stevia is much more economical. HIGHLY recommend it. Available only online. You can google it. I get mine from Vitacost.


04/12/2012 - 3:52pm

I just started using a product called Better Stevia with glycerite. Its a 2 fl. oz bottle for just over 6 bucks. Again it only takes a couple drops to do the trick for me. I bought it at a Nurtishop but u may also find it in other vitamin stores.


04/22/2012 - 9:23pm

As a young girl I suffered from PCOS which is a precursor to diabetes. As a syndrome it includes insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, and other autoimmune disorders. It was off the screen to medical science in my youth but now physicians like Richard Bernstein are actively studying it in an effort to help sufferers lose weight, hirsutism, Raynaud-like symptomd in the extremities, fatigue, memory problems, etc.


05/16/2012 - 4:46pm

So I'm not the only one who's had to add a lot of packets to taste the sweetness! I thought that was the nature of stevia - didn't realise it wasn't pure.


05/24/2012 - 7:46am

i still dont have a answer..... WHAT IS GOING ON!!!!!


06/02/2012 - 9:25pm

I'm trying to do some research on stevia and I was reading the comments and I nobody signed their name to their comment. For all I know, all of the comments could be from 2 people.
Bob Williams


06/04/2012 - 7:37am

Stevia in pure form is not new. I was using it in liquid form in the late 1980's. The more pure it is, the better. Use it in small amounts and it should be harmless.


06/13/2012 - 4:57pm

Eating food on this planet now is a gamble including your homegrown but I believe we as humans will develop some sort of resistance (except people with allergies) to whatever additives are put in our food. Moderation is the key.


06/14/2012 - 1:43pm

That sounds downright silly. It's not safe in its natural form, but it is in its processed form? After they add erythritol and all that?


06/15/2012 - 11:41am

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