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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

I've tried Stevia and I like it. It is supposedly a natural substitute for nutri-sweet and other chemical sugar substitutes that have been linked to health problems.

Anonymous

10/24/2010 - 6:56pm

Stevia is terrible, almost worse than Equal and Splenda (which I actually prefer). None of these products taste 100x or whatever sweeter than sugar. If sugar was so bad, the Creatrix would never have put it here for our use. Diabetes only became an epidemic after all the processed foods and non-farm work revolutionized America into the Land of fat Slobs. Personally, I find Truvia awful and a waste of money. I use raw sugar, honey, dried fruit syrup, and other products - and I stay away from corn syrup products!

Anonymous

10/27/2010 - 9:45am

Far better tasting and much healthier than stevia/Reb-A formulated sweeteners is the new natural sweetener made with fiber, probiotics, whole botanical extracts from fruits and spices called SUSTA from NXT Nutiritionals.

Anonymous

11/02/2010 - 10:55am

I prefer Sunrider Corp. Stevia. It's a liquid Stevia and all natural. www.sunrider.com

Anonymous

11/17/2010 - 12:08am

America hasn't studied Stevia very much but South America and Japan have been using it forever, more than 25 years and the Japanese have much better health than Americans. They don't seem to have the sweet tooth that we have. Their candies, drinks and cakes contain Stevia not sugar and they've grown up with Stevia and don't seem to have the health issues that we have and we've all grown up with sugar, sugar, sugar. Most of the sugar substitutes are as bad as sugar. Each has it's own side effects.

Anonymous

12/12/2011 - 12:50pm

It is difficult to know what to do these days, especially when the very agencies which are supposed to safeguard us, and give us information on which to make educated decisions, are indeed "in bed" with the large food corporations. The FDA has given us bad advice before, so when they tell us to treat stevia with caution, how should we view that? What I glean from all of the talk is that moderation is the best means in which to live your life. If one must use sweetners, try to use the most natural, and least processed as possible, and don't use the same thing all the time. Maybe try a little honey in coffee once in awhile, or use maple syrup, molasses, and stevia then raw sugar, too much of even a good thing is often a culprit in something bad. I think that the most serious detriment which sweetners cause our bodies is the spike in the glycemic index, which can be avoided with stevia, and honey has a very low GI as well. Keep your hormone balance stable and your body will thank you. Stevia is an acquired taste, no doubt about it, but I use it, and like it, so I would say, check it out.

Anonymous

Anonymous

12/14/2011 - 1:26pm

There are some concerns over 'Artificial' and/or 'Natural(processed/manufactured) Substitutes', as to wether they're actually safe or not..... doesn't matter which brand or what it is made from.
However, personally they all taste terrible and It irritates the crap out of me that Companies seem to think They are doing us all a big favor by replacing the naturally occurring sugars in foods like orange juice/fruit juice etc..etc... and by also adding 'Natural Flavors or Ingredients'. Nature already made these foods perfect and people/Companies should stop screw around with it simply to make money off the brain washed public, one that believes some how these sugar substitutes are going to help them be healthier or lose weight.
Companies that make and sell these products aren't interested in your well being, they're only interested in you buying their product - they'll tell you what ever you want to hear to get you to buy their product, and to some degree those 'added Natural Ingredients' are added to get you hook on their products. Remember "MSG" , it was/is a Natural ingredient - they simply replaced it with some other new ingredient(s).
If people really want to avoid being over-weight or becoming Diabetic later in life they should use common-sense and eat less processed sugar foods - like desserts, Fast foods, and foods with 'Added ingredients'. Eat more natural foods like fruit and vegetables and exercise more.......

Anonymous

12/20/2011 - 4:07am

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

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

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

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