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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

When I want to sweeten my smoothies I use organic molasses. If my fruit is sweet enough, I don't bother. I buy "certified" organic fruits only from both my health food store and FruitShare (online). I was going to try Stevia until I read some of these posts. I'm allergic to many foods, so I think I'll pass. Thanks, everyone.

Anonymous

07/28/2013 - 2:26pm

Stevia has been used to sweeten soft drinks in Japan for decades, go figure........How many other animal species do we need to test for how long? FDA bullshit has us (USA) behind at the insistence of other sweeteners lobbies including sugar

Anonymous

07/24/2013 - 10:33am

I dislike the taste of stevia intensely. If you dont want to use refined white sugar in moderation, try using raw, unprocessed sugar.

Anonymous

07/20/2013 - 5:25am

Animal studie?... Really animals are not mention to have sugar.... There body will not prove what the humans are. We are built stronger. And we live longer.

Anonymous

07/10/2013 - 7:49pm

everybody's body (constitution) reacts differently based on many internal and external factors. for some, stevia is great. for others, it dramatically lowers their blood sugar an causes other ailments. i suggest to work with your doctor to fully examine your state of health and the integral reactions taking place in your body. testing new supplements is always best done with a doctor present, who cares and is interested in your optimal health.

Anonymous

07/08/2013 - 10:51pm

I use Stevia, without the "fillers". I don't use much, but maybe a packet or two a week. The trick is to use real produce, fruits, to sweeten whenever possible. It is not only the chemical, manufactured, sugar substitutes that are bad for you, but it is the sugar, also. If you can get that out of your diet, then you will be making giant strides to healthier living. Absence of processed sugars and artificial substitutes will make you healthier all the way around. I use fruits when I have a "sugar" craving. Best is to eat your meal with low fat protein, or healthy fats like avocados, lean meats, nuts, then fill your plate with fresh vegetables, home grown if possible or organic, if possible. Keep away from white flours, sugars and processed foods. I have been doing this now for two months and no longer have real cravings for sugar products and have lost fifteen pounds and my husband has lost twenty-five pounds. This is our lifestyle now and it is not hard to do. Just eat vegetables and some fruits whenever you are craving sweets! Try to find organic or, if possible, grow your own.

Anonymous

07/07/2013 - 9:56pm

I have a Stevia plant ....I would recommend getting one...no worries about added ingredients or chemicals.

Anonymous

06/28/2013 - 3:42pm

Why do people seem to think that "natural" means safe?? Cyanide is natural, but I wouldn't eat it. Just because it's an herb, doesn't mean it's good for you. Herbs can interact with medicines and have all sorts of side-effects that we may not know about. And, really, we're looking to China for a safe product, the same country that was putting malamine in milk and infant formula? Really?

Anonymous

06/27/2013 - 1:06am

Stevia caused my grandmother to have nose bleeds that the doctors couldn't stop until they cauterized it.

Anonymous

06/26/2013 - 3:42pm

Perhaps I am the one in 100,000, but I definitely have a reaction to stevia. If I use more than a tiny bit, I get a sore dry throat, and constipation, then when I used about 3 packets in a day, I began to feel dizzy and spacey and my tongue swelled. I know NATURAL is the big word, but arsenic is NATURAL and so are maggots but I am not going to eat them.

Anonymous

06/26/2013 - 12:32pm

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