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Is Stevia Safe?

A. This year, a few noncaloric sweeteners made from an extract of the Stevia rebaudiana plant arrived on grocery-store shelves. The stevia plant has a long history of use as a sweetener in South America. These new sweeteners—sold under brand names like Truvia and PureVia—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 regarded as safe (GRAS) ingredient.

The FDA affirmed the GRAS status, but did not change the previous ruling on stevia. “Reb A is different than whole-leaf stevia or [other] stevia extracts, which can only be sold as dietary supplements,” says FDA spokesperson Michael Herndon. “Nobody has provided the FDA with evidence that whole-leaf stevia is safe.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer advocacy group, believes that 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.”

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).

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COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

I've been using liquid stevia (NuNaturals-alcohol free) for a hear and a half and it has "cured" me of my sugar-junkie mode. I bought a couple of plants as an object lessone for my friends to help them understand that in nature there really is a plant that is sweet without calories. I think of it like salt or vanilla. Just flavoring for my food. I have also been on a low carb (high fat) regimen and have lost 15 pounds in this year an a half without feeling hungry of deprived. Myr ecent blood work showed everything normal. I like add liquid stevia to my starbuck's. I also like to mix liquid stevia in sour cream or yogurt and eat it with fresh strawberries. To me it's like the best cheesecake.

Anonymous

05/02/2013 - 1:19pm

Stevia is safe but these other brands are adding sugar (think dextrose) to make it more palatable and pourable.. whatever. The difference between Stevia and sugar substitutes is that it is not a chemical, it is an extract from a plant (think mint extract or like someone said, vanilla) and it does not cause a glycemic reaction... i.e. the pancreas does not release insulin into the blood stream the way sugar and sugar substitutes cause it to do. It is a good product but you have to buy the one without the sugar added (which defeats the purpose *cough Truvia cough*). And for those of you who love Splenda, well you are loving your blood sugar going up too. It's made from sugar... well my Dad told me you can make explosives and poison from sugar...

Aspartame and all those others gave me a brain fog and are a bunch of mixed chemicals and Stevia has not given me any side effects.

Anonymous

05/03/2013 - 10:04pm

stevia is not an "artificial" sweetener. it is natural; like sugar or honey. lets not confuse it with artificial sweeteners.

Anonymous

06/18/2013 - 2:21pm

I use Pure Via & NuNaturals stevia , no adverse effects, anything is better than processed Sugar!

Anonymous

06/19/2013 - 4:22pm

I have tried Truvia in the past...I found it to be more bitter than sweet and had allergic reaction after ingesting it, swollen tongue itching around the eyes, ear lobs and chin. I just heard of a new sweetener made from the Monk Fruit found in Asia. FDA considers it 0 calories and it has been used in Asia for centuries for medical along with sweetening foods

kenneth_85

06/25/2013 - 4:54pm

Perhaps I am the one in 100,000, but I definitely have a reaction to stevia. If I use more than a tiny bit, I get a sore dry throat, and constipation, then when I used about 3 packets in a day, I began to feel dizzy and spacey and my tongue swelled. I know NATURAL is the big word, but arsenic is NATURAL and so are maggots but I am not going to eat them.

Anonymous

06/26/2013 - 12:32pm

Stevia caused my grandmother to have nose bleeds that the doctors couldn't stop until they cauterized it.

Anonymous

06/26/2013 - 3:42pm

Why do people seem to think that "natural" means safe?? Cyanide is natural, but I wouldn't eat it. Just because it's an herb, doesn't mean it's good for you. Herbs can interact with medicines and have all sorts of side-effects that we may not know about. And, really, we're looking to China for a safe product, the same country that was putting malamine in milk and infant formula? Really?

Anonymous

06/27/2013 - 1:06am

I have a Stevia plant ....I would recommend getting one...no worries about added ingredients or chemicals.

Anonymous

06/28/2013 - 3:42pm

I use Stevia, without the "fillers". I don't use much, but maybe a packet or two a week. The trick is to use real produce, fruits, to sweeten whenever possible. It is not only the chemical, manufactured, sugar substitutes that are bad for you, but it is the sugar, also. If you can get that out of your diet, then you will be making giant strides to healthier living. Absence of processed sugars and artificial substitutes will make you healthier all the way around. I use fruits when I have a "sugar" craving. Best is to eat your meal with low fat protein, or healthy fats like avocados, lean meats, nuts, then fill your plate with fresh vegetables, home grown if possible or organic, if possible. Keep away from white flours, sugars and processed foods. I have been doing this now for two months and no longer have real cravings for sugar products and have lost fifteen pounds and my husband has lost twenty-five pounds. This is our lifestyle now and it is not hard to do. Just eat vegetables and some fruits whenever you are craving sweets! Try to find organic or, if possible, grow your own.

Anonymous

07/07/2013 - 9:56pm

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