Advertisement
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).

Download a Free Cookbook with Our Best Healthy Dessert Recipes!

COMMENTS POSTEDsort icon

What should diabetics use to bake in lieu of sugar?

Anonymous

10/18/2014 - 9:16pm

I looked up "sick" in the dictionary. The comparative form of "sick" is "sicker," and the superlative form is "sickest." I am a retired English prof and thought that was the case but double-checked the dictionary to be positive.
I don't usually comment on a person's grammar usage but could not resist this one.

Anonymous

10/16/2014 - 5:40pm

The correct term would be poor English, if you must say.

Anonymous

10/13/2014 - 6:57am

I buy pure Stevia in powdered form at Trader Joe's. The small bottle is pricey -- nearly $10 -- but has lasted me for 4 months so far and I still have some left. It comes with a VERY small measuring spoon. Two of those sweetens an entire 64 oz pitcher of my homemade iced tea. I used to buy Truvia in mainstream grocery stores, but it has other added ingredients and ends up costing a lot more to use because it measures spoon for spoon like sugar. Also, there is one diet Coca Cola product that contains no aspartame, but is sweetened with Splenda instead. This is not as "natural" as Stevia, however it might be a step up from aspartame. I've tried the soda called "Zevia," however, the cola flavor is really, really disappointing. Aside from general health purposes, my motivation is to avoid the migraine headaches I often get. It seems to me I have far fewer of them w hen I steer clear of aspartame. I do wish that there were more studies available on the safety (or lack thereof) of Stevia and Splenda.

Anonymous

10/11/2014 - 12:16pm

The proper way of saying sicker is (more sick).

Sorry I had to comment. It's just bad English.

It's just like saying Funner, both are actual words but sound terrible. It's a sign of the times when our dumbed down society will put any word into a dictionary.

Sorry about being off topic.

About stevia, I would stay clear of it entirely, in any form. You will find that over time you may develop adrenal issues. I was using stevia for quite a while in low doses and for some reason the way my body produced and used cortisol was being affected. Not a pleasant experience!
I went off of it and over a period of 3 months I recovered. I then went back on stevia for 3 days and experienced the same effect. It took another week to recover. It was the stevia.
Remember stevia is an herb and can be very powerful if your body does not agree with it.
No not all herbs are safe for everyone, just as not all pharmaceuticals are safe for everyone. Each are potent and powerful in their own way.

Be careful.

Anonymous

10/07/2014 - 8:03pm

Sugar at the end of the day is the only safe sweetener. Everything in moderation.

Anonymous

10/01/2014 - 12:38am

can anybody help here with out throwing mud !!!!!

Anonymous

09/18/2014 - 6:44am

Sounds, to me, like sugar is lowest risk of all sweetners. In an effort to reduce or eliminate one thing (sugar for diabetics, calories for dieting) - we will always add another. We have to weigh these things out ourself and understand were we want our risk. There are approx. 15 calories in a teaspoon of sugar. I decided to stay with sugar, since I only use two teasspoons a day. In an effort to get those calories back, I walk a bit more each day. Oh well. My 2 cents.

Anonymous

09/16/2014 - 8:32am

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that the two leading nutritional drinks (Ensure and Boost) are now adding artificial sweeteners that are on the list of food items NOT to consume - both are artificial sweeteners that are allowed to be labeled as "fiber." The one in Ensure has the same content as Splenda; the one in Boost is stevia leaf. Before I read the labels (a major mistake) I tried first one and then the other, and developed diaarhea both times. It was then when I read the labels and researched the new contents, and found out the reason for the diaarhea (I have IBS and almost all artificial sweeteners are triggers). I think it is terrible that a company supposedly making a product for people with health problems is using a content that actually can make the consumer sicker. Why did FDA allow the designation of "fiber" rather than artificial sweetener, other than for the benefit of the company - it knows the emphasis on eating less sugar and more fiber as being healthy for the consumer. It is very misleading to allow, without its true identification, something that will make the consumer sicker.

Anonymous

08/30/2014 - 9:58am

Actually, MSG does have to be labeled. It cannot be called "spices" or anything similar in the ingredient list. It does not have to be called out, however, if the product contains MSG that is from a hydrolyzed or autolyzed yeast or similar product. The thing is, if you are so against certain things in your food, do your research and avoid them. A lot of people don't care.

Anonymous

08/21/2014 - 3:18pm

Get a full year of EatingWell magazine.
World Wide Web Health Award Winner Web Award Winner World Wide Web Health Award Winner Interactive Media Award Winner