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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

Ok, I'm just wondering. There scared of putting out Stevia for people but other artificial sugar substitutes that can be dangerous as well as certain medications can cause health problems or even death is allowed. Hmm....

Anonymous

08/28/2013 - 4:44pm

I used Stevia for years but now after having 2 children my wife and I are having problems getting pregnant for the third time. My doctor has confirmed I have a lower than normal sperm count. Not sure if it is related but I have stopped using Stevia it in my hot drinks.

Anonymous

08/21/2013 - 11:43am

In the 1980s, animal studies linked stevia with adverse effects on fertility and reproductive development and possible genetic mutations.

And ....what happened to the Aztecs? Just sayin'.

Anonymous

08/15/2013 - 4:20pm

I just bought stevia extract from trader joes, now I'm afraid to try it. Do you think it's safe. It says a dietary supplement, I am borderline diabetic and vegetarian

Anonymous

08/13/2013 - 6:16pm

I use raw stevia in my coffee only. A small amount goes a long way. I don't trust ANYTHING the FDA says. How many things have they approved that have turned out to be harmful years later?! Not to mention lobbyists and corporations corrupt the entire process so I don't believe many studies that come out unless they are independently-funded and carried out on the appropriate population.

Anonymous

08/11/2013 - 10:00am

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Anonymous

08/08/2013 - 3:25pm

I think Stevia is very ok if you use only the fresh leaves and not the processed, because processed have already mixed with chemical.

Anonymous

08/07/2013 - 11:04pm

I have used both Stevia extract AND sweetleaf (the plant- purchased and home grown) I would be more worried about the corporations that are 'mis-labeling' and misleading consumers with what they are truly selling. Any ADDITIVES are bad in this case. Beware of Maldextrose, and do you research! These companies are NOT looking out for your best interest, they are looking to make a buck.

Anonymous

08/07/2013 - 9:17am

If you are pre-diabetic, using stevia surely is better than sugar. I have 2 stevia plants and crush some leaves into my iced tea. I feel perfectly safe using it, just the same as using mint. Stevia plants in England have been used "forever" for sweetening their tea. To me, the greater danger is using pesticides or fertilizers on plants that we consume. Stevia is easy to grow, inexpensive, and tastes great. It can be an intense taste, so just use a little.

Anonymous

08/06/2013 - 11:50am

Stevia has been a beneficial sweetener for me. I have had diabetes II for eight years and find that stevia really helps as a sweetner for cereals.
I have to agree with the lady who posted on 07/07/13 who advises to eat healthier by choosing fruits instead of sugar or sugar substitutes.
Monk fruit is a new product on the market that has can be used as a sugar substitute.

Anonymous

08/02/2013 - 10:53pm

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