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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

STEVIA IS 100% SAFE BECAUSE IT IS NATURAL AND EXTRACTED FROM A PLANT

Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) is natural, so I guess you'd be happy to grow that and eat it as well?

Anonymous

03/09/2012 - 6:41am

I LOVE STEVIA!!! :)

Anonymous

03/01/2012 - 12:08am

Poison Ivy is 100% natural too.

Anonymous

02/20/2012 - 11:39pm

"brown sugar has a brown color and a distinctive taste because it has small remnants of burned sugar cane still in it."

"I look at the studies of Splenda and Aspartame and I find very little in the way of damning evidence that they will really hurt me. There is some talk about how it affects the flora in my gut. But there are some flora that I don't want there. If I kill off a specific genus+species (put scientific name here) organism, will I have a real problem?"

" In all respects, 'refined' sugar is more 'pure' than raw sugar or honey, since refined sugar is filtered and cleaned raw sugar"

Am I missing something? YES! You are missing ALOT -_-

Anonymous

02/09/2012 - 12:27am

STEVIA IS 100% SAFE BECAUSE IT IS NATURAL AND EXTRACTED FROM A PLANT JUST LIKE SUGAR CANE! YOU CAN GROW IT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD! I have the plant in my back yard, you can eat the leaf and it tastes sweet. you can read the ingredient on the back of the box and it says 1 thing. THE ONLY SAFE SUGAR SUBSTITUTE SO FAR.

Anonymous

02/06/2012 - 4:02pm

I liked & was using Stevia, most often in my coffee while eating out in restaurants. I kept having these "not-feeling-good-/almost fainting spells when going out to eat. It turned out that after sipping some of my coffee the server would bring first, a spell would come on! After several 'guesses', & on the suggestion of a friend, I emailed the Stevia distributor & learned there was a conflict between the carvedilol I take for high blood pressure & the Stevia. They said "Stevia is known to lower bp".
I stopped using it, much to my dismay, & haven't had any more spells. This is purely a fyi for those interested. If anyone has any suggestion or knowledge of how I could safely return to using Stevia, I'd appreciate it.
anonymous

Anonymous

02/05/2012 - 2:03pm

BLUE AGAVE NECTAR. Case closed!

Anonymous

02/05/2012 - 10:17am

I have found SweetLeaf brand stevia to be the best tasting of stevia brands I have tried ( I believe I have tried most brands). I have been using it for about 5 years for general sweetening and in cooking and have nothing but good things to say about this brand.

Anonymous

02/02/2012 - 12:56pm

Am I missing something? I'm told that artificial sweeteners are not safe, that stevia may not be safe. I am convinced that too much sugar is bad. I see all the overweight people around me and notice evidence of diabetes everywhere.

People say that we should eat only 'raw' sugar. Raw or brown sugar has a brown color and a distinctive taste because it has small remnants of burned sugar cane still in it. The plant residue that remains has tiny amounts of iron and maybe a few other vitamins and minerals - but in quantities so small as to be insignificant. The 'raw' sugar is turned into 'refined' sugar by filtering it through activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has long been used to filter all sorts of things - including the air going into your Prius cabin. In all respects, 'refined' sugar is more 'pure' than raw sugar or honey, since refined sugar is filtered and cleaned raw sugar. Certainly, some types of sugar are absorbed more slowly, and cause less of a rise in blood glucose levels, but this is mostly a debate about degree. I believe that all sweet-tasting sugars cause some rise in blood glucose levels. I doubt that Splenda or Aspartame have the same effect.

I look at the studies of Splenda and Aspartame and I find very little in the way of damning evidence that they will really hurt me. There is some talk about how it affects the flora in my gut. But there are some flora that I don't want there. If I kill off a specific genus+species (put scientific name here) organism, will I have a real problem? I would guess that the people in India have a different mix of flora than I do. And since bacteria are so good at evolving, isn't it likely that they may develop a tolerance over time and eventually be just as happy whether I eat C&H pure cane or Splenda? Artificial sweeteners have been used by millions of people for quite a long time, and I don't see a huge problem. I do, however, see lots of problems with people that continue to drink Coke and Pepsi and/or a lot of fruit juices. Most people (especially children) will continue to eat what tastes good to them, regardless of what we say. I'm thinking that the negative consequences of over-consuming ANY kind of sugar - raw, refined, agave, honey far outweigh the (probably) minor health risks of eating Splenda.

So, tell me. Am I missing something?

Anonymous

01/15/2012 - 5:58pm

I would love to know the bottom line on this. I am using Pure Via Stevia and I adore it! I put it in large glasses of iced tea for sweetener and I must use 3 pkgs per drink. Sorry but.....I love it. I put it in Starbucks passion tea which has no caffine and is red in color.

Anonymous

01/12/2012 - 2:43pm

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