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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

Off topic Regarding our dumbed-down society using "bad English:" Thank goodness that English evolves with the impact of all aspects of our society and immigration. Otherwise, thee and thou would still be using what I would called "stilted" English.

George Pilgrim ;)
Plymouth, Ma

The Stevia plant is natural; it wouldn't surprise me that some people might react to it even though it might be safe (and desirable) for 95 % of the population. OTOH, the processing of the plant could cause people to be affected negatively, especially if other products were produced at the same plant, such as peanuts or seafood, or any of the many products that we normally hear cause reactions.

Anonymous

11/12/2014 - 2:39pm

Sugar is nothing but harmful and dangerous, sugar is the leading cause of diabetes and obesity, so to say it is low risk is ludacris

Anonymous

11/08/2014 - 4:52pm

Just curious. Would the stevia leaf extract have any affect on the consumption is the blood thinner- Coumadin.

Anonymous

11/07/2014 - 4:26pm

So is stevia really dangerous? It was in my chobani Greek yogurt. The label says it is sweetened naturally with only natural ingredients. But I don't think stevia is as natural as it sounds. I still taste the difference between this yogurt and the regular chobani Greek yogurt. And I get the same after taste as I do with some diet sweetners like aspartame. I don't think people should eat stevia, I think they should just lower their sugar intake.

Anonymous

10/28/2014 - 4:14pm

I had really bad reaction on Stevia in two independent cases. One time I did not know I ingested because it was part of the TROPO50 JUICE BY TROPICANA COMPANY. My tongue became numb and I was shaky.
My hands were literally in tremor. Luckily symptoms stopped soon by themselves, but I am avoiding Stevia in anything now. I do not have any food allergies and it was surprising that I react in Stevia like this. Then I started reading about it and apparently a lot of people are experiencing same symptoms with Stevia.

Anonymous

10/21/2014 - 10:09pm

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

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