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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

Not EVERYTHING that's natural is "good for you." ;) Marajuana is natural, but it isn't good for you! That being said, I'd much rather have something that IS natural than something man made. All in all, most things in moderation...(yes, notice I didn't say ALL things in moderation...that would mean Marajuana too, but remember it's not good for you, unless of course you've been diagnosed with cancer and are taking it for medicinal purposes under the guidance and permission of your doctor.) I use Stevia...but mostly sugar. If you use a tablespoon of sugar per day (and I mean in your coffee or tea and not in anything else other than natural sugar which comes from complex carbohydrates like fruit and veggies, than you're going to be okay. Obviously, if you're diabetic, you want to stay away from sugar and watch the sugar (including the natural sugar) you take in per day.

As far as the FDA, I could write a book about them and a million others but I won't. The only way to combat the "goings on" in any company of association is to eat properly. One then, doesn't have to worry about reading all of that ridiculous wording on packages when one is eating fruits and veggies and whole grains (such as Ezekial Bread). It takes the headache, worrying and fretting over whether or not this organization or that organization, like the FDA, is "out to get us."

Go natural. It's the best bet...and yes, sugar is natural...in it's natural state...get some sugar cane...it's just as sweet as the plant Stevia is made from!

Anonymous

06/22/2010 - 9:12pm

Both Splenda and Aspartame give me migraines! These are toxic chemicals!

Anonymous

06/21/2010 - 11:25pm

If you read the FDA website, it says they are partially privately subsidized or funded. Who are those who would be interested in donating money to the government?...I presume lobbyists, food corporations, etc. -Tarantino

Anonymous

04/08/2010 - 10:32am

Beware of corruption in the FDA, remember, there are no regulations stating that a FDA scientist can not have worked for a Nutrasweet/aspartame/saccharin/splenda company before working for the FDA!. The artifical sweetener companies hold a monopoly on sweeteners and you can be sure they lobby hard against stevia. Remember too that manmade sweeteners are carcinogenic and that the studies that say they are safe were performed by the manufacturing companies themselves-talk about a conflict of interest!
I enjoy stevia and the only bad thing about it is it can be bitter depending on the amount you use and the brand name.

Anonymous

03/03/2010 - 1:07pm

Hmmm, sounds like it's safer to grow it yourself than to use one of the processed products, though...

Anonymous

01/23/2010 - 12:20pm

I just tried a stevia sweetened drink called Kahe. It was a Kiwi flavored sparkling juice but because of the stevia was only 65 calories! I love sparkling juices but they normally have way too much sugar, I thought this was a great alternative.

Anonymous

11/04/2009 - 6:40pm

I'm sure in the beginning the FDA did care about the safety of the American people. But for many, many decades the FDA have been known for rushing through products for approval so it can hit the shelves in stores. One can only imagine what's in it for them behind the closed doors. You just don't know if you can trust them, or not. After all, look at all the current and past problems with food and drugs in this country. Is anyone really looking out for us? I think I'll go natural from now on and everything in moderation.

Anonymous

11/03/2009 - 1:29pm

They are putting stevia through more tests and different tests than they did for Nutrasweet or any of the other manmade sweeeteners. Stevia has been used for thousands of years all over the world except for most of the US. This is the same battle that doctors and patients have when a patient considers natural treatment over manmade prescriptions. The doctors are usually backing the pharmaceutical industry, which is why they don't usually endorse natural healing. There's always a reason behind why natural cures, remedies, solutions are not embraced by "professionals". That reason usually has to do with money. I say use it, but don't abuse it.

Anonymous

10/25/2009 - 4:59pm

I have used Steivia for years, but am to old to worry about genetic changes. I am not aware of any changes in myself. But it sounds like I wouldn't notice anyway.
It still makes me feel uncomfortable. So I have switched to Raw Sugar. It has things in it that are good for you and I don't use as much of the Raw sugar as I did the white.
Just in case you want to use Steivia anyway, you can buy the plant and grow it in your yard. I bought mine at wal-mart. Just take one tiny leaf and drop it in your tea.
Still use my plant now and then for my tea, but feel better knowing I am getting something back using the raw sugar.

Anonymous

10/25/2009 - 3:31am

a web site that shares side effects of truvia users:

http://side-effects.owndoc.com/truvia-side-effects.html

a web site that discusses the details of the product

http://www.janethull.com/newsletter/0808/truvia_a_new_sweetener_using_stevia.php

Anonymous

10/24/2009 - 1:16pm

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