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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

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

Anonymous

04/07/2012 - 1:43pm

There is a difference between pure stevia, Truvia and PureVia. Do some research people. Stevia extract is minimally processed. Truvia, Purevia and others like it add more chemicals and other ingredients that really negate the idea of getting a pure and chemical free sweetener that doesn't cause side effects.

Anonymous

04/06/2012 - 11:27pm

About the person who commented that you cannot avoid type 2 diabetes by only avoiding sugar - they are dead on right. Reducing your sugar intake is a great start, but where the biggest problem lies is with the processed foods and simple carbs - chips, cookies, pastries etc. And even just by eating too much rice, potatoes etc. Too many carbs - whether they come from sugar or simple starches - turn to sugar and then fat. They exhaust your pancreas and eventually your body cannot create enough insulin, resulting in diabetes.

Anonymous

04/06/2012 - 11:23pm

So Aspartame is much, much, much, much more harmful than Stevia yet it got approved fairly easily despite concerns from numerous Neuroscientists and other scientists. Had GD Searle, purchased by Monsatan (Monsanto), invented the Truvia and not Aspartame, then Stevia would have been approved and not Aspartame. The FDA is a joke!

Anonymous

03/30/2012 - 6:51pm

Bottom line... have fun, enjoy each day & accept that we're all gonna die

Anonymous

03/29/2012 - 2:56pm

Poison ivy is not a food and it is not poison. The problem people have with so called poison ivy is that their body is allergic to it.

Anonymous

03/29/2012 - 11:08am

Type 2 diabetes is caused by high sugar intake over a prolonged period of time. Yes, being over weight is a factor, but it would be physiologically ignorant to claim that it doesn't highly depend on glucose levels.

Anonymous

03/28/2012 - 4:22pm

To the person who stated type 2 Diabetes is someone overweight that is not exactly true....many people have type 2 Diabetes and are in the normal weight range.

Anonymous

03/27/2012 - 6:30pm

To the person who thinks pure white sugar is good for you because it "pure white", you don't quite get it. Anything highly refined (Sugar or sweetener or carbs) are bad for you because it goes into your system way to fast and eventually burns out your pancreases. Then you become a diabetic type 2. Lots of other fun things happen like strokes ect... ect... ect... The general rule is if man touches it, don't eat it!!! Eat things in their natural. I can’t believe the ignorant questions that come out of peoples mouths. It's your body and you don't even know anything about nutrition! Read up and educate yourself. This is one thing you can do that the government can't control (yet). You best bet to a long healthy life is to kick the sugar habit and cravings.

Anonymous

03/25/2012 - 1:36pm

I just purchased agave nectar - does anyone know the difference ebtween this and th eblue agave nectar? How does it do with sweetening coffee?? Really trying ot give up sugar but need an alternative. HELP!!

Anonymous

03/23/2012 - 9:46pm

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