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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

Organic honey!!!! All honey is organic.

Anonymous

01/11/2014 - 4:32am

RESPONSE TO THE FIRST COMMENT

You are wrong about agave. Agave can Never be categorized as high fructose corn syrup. First, it is not derived from corn. It comes from the cactus plant. Second, agave is absorbed, received, and utilized by the cell membrane unlike the other sweeteners you've listed. Third, it does not negatively affect the bodies PH balance and does not raise insulin levels in the body.

Maple Syrup (grade b) is a healthy alternative with the same affects.

Raw Honey should be considered as a second choice. Honey does not promote alkalinity to maintain the bodies PH level.

Anonymous

01/10/2014 - 11:37am

Funny. Reb A is actually the worst form of stevia- it's heavily processed with a plethora of carcinogens & most contains additives to add bulk.

Pure leaf stevia is the only form of stevia I'd ingest, and even then it's affects are questionable.

Simple rule of thumb: 0 calorie sweeteners don't exist in nature. In fact the reason we're programmed to enjoy sweet things is because traditionally sweet meant the food was rich in calories and often other nutrients.

I've more research to do but currently I would discourage the following...

-Aspartame: possibly the worst. It massacres brain cells and breaks down into formaldehyde. If that's not enough it's also associated with dozens of health problems and receives the most health complaints out of all low/no calorie sweeteners. Avoid at all costs.

-Reb A (stevia "extract"): Highly refined using acetone, ethanol, and other known carcinogens. On top of this it usually ends up with a metallic taste, so manufacturers add in "natural flavors" to mask it's artificial taste. It's also often combined with dextrose; a sweetener derived from GMO corn and sometimes silica. Avoid when possible.

-Stevia (from pure leaf): Questionable. While there is little evidence to suggest it is harmful it's structure does resemble hormone structures, a potential risk. It also comes with the associated risks of 0 calorie sweeteners on appetite, gut flora, and the immune system. Avoid if you see fit.

-Refined White Sugar; Most often from the Saccharum family of grasses or beets, heavily refined. Known to cause inflammation and obesity as well as blood sugar problems. Also mildly addictive. Avoid when possible.

-Agave "Nectar": It's just high fructose corn syrup. Don't let the name fool you.

-Sucralose: Made from chlorinated sugar. Wreaks havoc on your bodies healthy bacteria as well as drastically increases the pH of your intestines. It also interferes with some medications. It has nearly the same chemical structure as a pesticide that was actually banned for toxicity. It is linked to organ dysfunction. Avoid at all costs.

-Saccharine: Straight up carcinogen. Linked to increased risk of many cancers, most commonly bladder cancer. Avoid at all costs.

-Xylitol (Sugar Alcohols)- Indigestible hydrogenated sugars. Can cause bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Potential carcinogen. Most often comes from GMO corn. Heavily processed. Potentially beneficial when used in dental care, but I would not recommend ingesting sugar alcohols. Avoid when possible.

-Honey: A saint compared to the others, but most commercial honey has been so heavily processed it's basically just high fructose corn syrup. All the good stuff has been cooked or filtered out to make the clear honey people expect. Avoid if you see fit.

So far it would seem the only sweetener that is actually safe is organic, raw, unfiltered honey (aside from the natural sweetness found in fruits and vegetables). I'd strongly suggest you look into these sweeteners and come to your own conclusion- look at the facts and decide for yourself.

Food is our source of energy, does it really make sense to be EATING something that is 0 calories? Water in the gas tank much? These things simply aren't natural. Our bodies weren't designed for them. Our bodies are products of nature. They're designed to ingest what was already here. It's time for the American diet to stop looking for these shiny new loopholes cooked up in a lab. Just get back to the basics.

Anonymous

01/05/2014 - 11:36pm

I think some people confused. Stevia is Not Aspartame, they are two different things.

Anonymous

01/05/2014 - 2:55pm

ah.....yup!!!!

Anonymous

01/03/2014 - 10:15am

When I add stevia to my fresh lemonade, I remain thirsty and my body becomes stressed from dehydration. When I use honey or pure maple syrup I can feel my tissues hydrating. Lemon helps that process. I have a feeling that in a dozen years science will show problems with stevia, probably because it is so over processed it is no longer natural and the body tries to reject it.

Anonymous

12/31/2013 - 3:48am

Regarding artificial sweetners; keep in mind more you consume the more adverse affects you will have. Migranes also can be cause by natural foods. I read some where that there are certain foods such as onions can cause migranes, I believe it was different for each person. Remember, while of course it is always better to consume beverages/foods that are natural, although it is all about Moderation.

You can by organic honey, I think you can by anything organic. I wish organic foods were not so costly; my local grocery store it is amost double the cost to buy organic than it does the other stuff.

To quote a title of a book I am currently reading; CHANGE Before You Have To. Change is hard, but that is what life is about. We all must go through change; don't fight it; embrace it.

Anonymous

12/19/2013 - 11:21am

"Aspartame proven safe? Oh please....it's known to have over 92 side effects including multiple cancers and death.....it's killed half the rats they tested it on...now that's a fact."

Cane sugar kills half the rats it is tested on. Assuming it consumes 29700mg/kg... Now that's a fact. LD50 is a powerful tool.

Anonymous

12/14/2013 - 10:49pm

"This may sound like an odd question but does one have to worry about GMOs and stevia production?"

As an internal source... you will not have to worry about GMOs in stevia. Stevia is bred/released naturally.

Anonymous

12/14/2013 - 10:43pm

The FDA is reluctant because they don't see their $$$ from it. Aspartame gave me terrible migraines for 23 years - until I wised up and quit it. The FDA says aspartame is fine, I was depressed, suicidal, and miserable all those years from their "approved" sweetener. I've used stevia since then - NO PROBLEMS!
Now coca-cola and other legalized murderers want it, as soon as they cough up the dough for the FDA, it will be just dandy as a safe sweetener.

Anonymous

12/13/2013 - 5:40pm

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