Is Stevia Safe?

Share it:
Is Stevia Safe?

Pick up any health magazine, and you’ll likely see an article about sugar in one form or another. From glucose and evaporated cane juice to pure maple syrup and honey, good ol’ added sugar goes by lots of fancy names these days! One of the newer players in the sugar game is stevia, a zero-calorie “natural” sweetener. There’s no debating that stevia has stolen the spotlight from its artificial cousins, Splenda (sucralose) and Sweet’N Low (saccharin). It may taste like sugar, but is it more natural? Better yet, is it healthier? The answer may surprise you.

What is stevia?

Stevia is a small shrub in the chrysanthemum family native to Paraguay and Brazil. It has been around since ancient times, used primarily as a low-calorie sweetener but also for medicinal purposes, such as increasing glucose tolerance (think: your tissues’ ability to absorb glucose, a sugar, from the bloodstream and use it for energy). It is nearly 200 times sweeter than table sugar, won’t raise your blood sugar, is widely available and doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste. Score! You may have seen stevia on store shelves under brand names like Truvia and Pure Via.

Is it natural? Is it healthy?

Yes and yes — but stevia and Truvia (or Pure Via) are not the same thing. Let’s break it down.

The stevia plant has two sweet compounds, stevioside and Rebaudioside A (Reb A or rebiana). While studies show that the former may help reduce blood sugar and blood pressure, there is limited evidence to date on the health benefits of Reb A. The patented refining process used to create highly purified Reb A involves extracting, isolating and combining Reb A with “natural flavors” and other sugar alcohols to create the powder you put in your coffee. In short, there is some serious processing from plant to packet!

Is it safe?

Likely. Let’s take a look at stevia’s recent history. First, understand that any products marketed as “stevia” are either whole-leaf stevia or extracts other than Reb A — none of which has been evaluated by the FDA to be used as a sweetener.

The FDA banned stevia in 1991 due to preliminary studies suggesting that it may lead to cancer. This was revoked in 1995 when the FDA ruled it safe to be sold as a food supplement. They then granted GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status to Reb A in 2008 after the makers of Pure Via and Truvia submitted research supporting its safety. Whole-leaf stevia and stevia extracts, however, are still considered dietary supplements.

Final Verdict: Should I use stevia?

The short answer is yes. It’s a better alternative to artificial sweeteners and may help with glucose tolerance. Nonetheless, use it in moderation. The fact remains that similar to artificial sweeteners, stevia hasn’t been around long enough to conduct long-term studies evaluating its health effects in humans. It’s safe to say that when consumed in reasonable amounts, stevia is a good natural sugar substitute. Consider trying a little bit of the real stuff in moderation like pure maple syrup, raw honey or coconut sugar. Or better yet, sweeten your treats with fruit like ripe bananas and dates!

Related

  • AG

    Hi Trinh, you mentioned that Stevia is not the same as Truvia or Purevia. Can you please explain the difference in terms of health and safety?

    • Sally

      I’m not an expert but this is my experience. If you read the labels on Purevia or Truvia they have additional artificial sweeteners in them. I use Stevia In The Raw & even it has dextrose but it seems to be the lesser of the evils. I’ve noticed that the pharmacy section at Walmart has stevia packets but I never thought to check for additional ingredients.

      • AG

        Thanks Sally!

      • Guy

        You do realize that dextrose is another name for glucose? I find it amazing that companies can get away with labeling sweeteners as ‘zero calory’ when they contain dextrose or maltodextrin – both of which break down to glucose and most definitely contain calories – the same amount as table sugar!

  • Luis Oliverio Ambriz Garcia

    I was looking for something like this. Interesting.

  • Kelly Walters

    About a month ago I began putting ‘stevia in the raw’ in my coffee. For a week I had headaches every day and two eye migraines (loss of vision), something I hadn’t had for seven years. I stopped the stevia and the headaches went away. A week later I inadvertently ate a yogurt that contained stevia. I had an eye migraine and headache by the afternoon. None since, but I’ve been extremely careful with what I eat. I don’t think this affects everyone this way, but it’s something to watch out for.

    • DEB S

      Me too, it’s in the ragweed plant family!

      • Sally

        Interesting. I didn’t know that. I have trouble with everything else except Stevia In The Raw.

        • Michele Wolfe

          I’m with you Sally!!!! I just love my Stevia in the Raw!!!

    • Sally

      I have this problem with aspartame & Splenda. It took me years to figure out why I had so many migraines. I use Stevia In The Raw because it doesn’t have the extra stuff that the others have but it does have dextrose! So much for “in the raw”.

      • darchoarse 82

        I’m glad you’ve stop using Splenda- horrible company a lot of mystery what their sweetner is made of? And not supporting Splenda- one less animal is tortured. Hi five- animal hero!

    • Melanie

      Are you sure it wasn’t from lack of sugar/detoxing from it? Not saying it wasn’t a reaction to stevia, but I’ve had headaches during sugar detox

      • darchoarse 82

        For me it was really bad- I was upset, emotions and fiery attitudes, like I was having this constant battle and PMS X’s 25. It takes time- your whole body & your brain goes through it. And yes you’ll feel like crap- mood changes, headaches- I had cluster ones, nauseated, vision loss and changes. I had to cut sugar out completely- my heart and health had halted big time and detox from most of the food, I consumed. Majority of our food had hidden ingredients- it’s our job to read through and make sure you know what you are consuming. Bagged meals are the worst.

      • Kelly Walters

        I don’t think so. Especially since I was headache free for a week until I accidentally ate stevia in a yogurt.

    • Alisha Rodriguez

      That’s because maltodextrix breaksdown into MSG. I’m a 30 chronic migraine sufferer and eat nothing but real whole foods to manage them. I don’t eat anything with maltodextrix. Do some reserch on MSG and you’ll be shocked to find all the ways you are ingesting MSG in hidden forms.

      • brainwave

        I assume you are referring to maltodextrin (not “maltodextrix”), which is a sugar made of glucose chains. It breaks down in to glucose molecules. MSG is an amino acid, monosodium glutamate, a component of protein, not sugar. So, please explain the chemistry that you are referring to that converts a sugar into an amino acid.

      • Bridgetvandongen

        Do you get migraines from tomatoes and cheese as well?

      • Reason587

        do some research, MSG symptoms everyone claims dont hold up well in actual studies. Quite a bit of misinformation on the net about it.

        Never mind that Kelly’s anecdotal evidence of using coffee and claiming that the sweetener in it caused the headaches is almost laughable, as caffeine dependence and caffeine use is one of the largest causes headaches in humans.

        • Kelly Walters

          Still drinking coffee and haven’t had a headache since I stopped the stevia.

          • aDawn217

            Just curious–where you using the Sweetleaf or the cheaper, processed stuff (truvia, etc.)?

          • Kelly Walters

            It was Stevia. Ingredients say Dextrose, stevia leaf extract.

      • Lorraine

        Thank you all so much for the info. I get a migraine very often during the week. I’m a 30 year old female. About a month and a half ago, I started adding the water flavor packets with stevia to my water and I’m making the connection that I think it’s those that are contributing to my migraines. I don’t have high blood pressure and I always try to watch the sodium on foods. It’s just so depressing. I get Botox for my migraines and that’s helped a bit.

    • Steve B.

      Me too! So I stopped it. I felt awful for several days until I figured out what it was.

    • Hannah

      This is exactly what happens to me. I’ve had a migraine diagnosis since the age of 11, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Splenda were always triggers. I attempted Stevia in the hopes that this “natural” sweetner would be the answer to my problems. It was not. Migraines so severe that I was vomiting thanks to Stevia. Looks like sugar is the only thing I can, in moderation, sweeten stuff with.

      • Kelly Walters

        I do fine on Splenda. I just wanted something different that I thought was “natural”. I now take my coffee black.

        • Interesting about your experiences with Stevia In The Raw. I have been having slight headaches since taken that brand. I usually use the Trader Joe brand – Thanks!

      • True about the aspartame for me…… I had some whopper type of migraines. But very true, about sugar and how it is safe up to a point. All Splenda did to me is cause gas and intestinal problems – YIKES.

    • Foster

      Do you have the same reaction when using trivia ?

      • Kelly Walters

        I’m not sure I’ve ever tried trivia. Does it have stevia in it?

    • Chris

      Stevie in the Raw is mostly maltidextrin, a sweetener made from corn. Read the ingredient label. It contains stevia but it’s not stevia. I use it from time to time but I prefer to use my pure Stevia extract drops, that contain nothing but stevia, whenever I can.

    • Belinda Wall

      Must not have been our stevia. Sorry to hear about the effect it had on you. But there are many people allergic to natural foods too.

    • patstar5

      Stevia in the raw isn’t pure stevia! It contains fillers!

    • Ryan

      Probably a result of the maltodextrin in Stevia in the Raw, not the stevia.

    • bjn

      please report to FDA

    • I use to get bad migraines from NutraSweet. Hope you were not getting a mix of some other sweetener. But it is a good to note about your reaction to the Stevia.

    • Amanda

      I get migraines from Stevia, too!

  • Amber Marie

    Hey everyone,
    I recently started baking healthy treats (as healthy as I could get them) and switched the sugar in my recipes for Stevia in the raw. This article was helpful but I’m still not entirely sure if it’s actually good for me – besides being low (even zero) calories. Does anyone have an idea of whether baking sweetener is good or bad?

    Thanks!

    • Bruce

      It’s really up to you. The government allows companies releasing products that contain less than 5 calories to be listed as 0 calorie. Be aware that in baking you will be using large quantities of it, therefore if stevia had 4 cal per serving, 5 servings is 20 calories. Significantly less than white sugar, and white sugar isn’t great for you either. But since you want treats and don’t want to give up on refined sweets completely, I guess you could use stevia. Stevia is probably better than white sugar but neither are healthy sources of energy or nutrition. You should also do some research on baking with artificial/questionable sweetners as some remain unstable and have been proven to be carcinogenic when they reach pretty high temperatures.

  • Rochelle

    Hi.
    I worked for a large flavor company when I was pregnant with my first child and we were doing some work with Stevia. I went to the lab one day to taste test on some products containing it and the scientist wouldn’t let me do it. I said “but I thought it’s natural” her response was “so is cocaine…” We really need to be mindful about what we put in our bodies and how it’s processed.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • Bobbin

      So are milk and carrots. So what?

      • PatriotGal

        Does the milk you drink come from cows that are not fettered with GMO hormones? What we eat is critical to our bodies.

        • DSpaceNine

          Agreed, but what about the people that cannot afford healthy food? There are stores packed to the ceilings with foods our bodies should not be consuming if we want to live a long life. I don’t want our government to “help”, they’re already too involved in our lives. Not sure what the solution is, other than to count ourselves lucky if we can afford to eat right.

          • jenniesez

            I have to admit that I am often confused when people say they can’t afford healthy food but they can afford chips and a big mac from McDonalds. A bag of chips cost a buck and has less than 3 ounces of potato, salt and fat – a potato, baked at home cost about 25 cents. A Big Mac is about three bucks, but you can buy a quarter bound of raw lean beef for about a $1.25 and a bakery quality roll for another 40 cents and have a much better sandwich… A candy bar cost a buck, a banana about 35 cents… It’s all about choices.

          • Serena Champ Aneres

            Perfect response. It’s not about $$ it’s about convenience. The bag of chips and big mac are already “prepared”…so is the candy bar. Plus they are filled with chemicals meant to keep you addicted to the food.

          • Minji Seong

            The cost of groceries (namely fruits and vegetables) increases dramatically in places known as “food deserts,” occurring in the poorest places in the US. Ironically healthy foods are usually cheaper in wealthier areas. I don’t even live in a food desert but if I wanted a banana, one might set me back about a buck, not 35 cents. This is really heavily tied to what crops the US government subsidizes (namely corn), and I think its a question of having the government switch what crops they subsidize almost moreso than just “making healthy choices,” as this would reduce the cost of vegetables and increase the cost of less healthy foods. However, youre partly right, sometimes it is about convenience. Say youre in a poor family working minimum wage, living paycheck to paycheck (a surprisingly common situation in the US). Time you spend cooking is time you spend not earning money, so sometimes families choose to buy convenient foods. So much of this is blamed on individuals when it really is more heavily linked to poverty/economics than people want to think.

          • Madamk Vales

            Absolutely. You have to put into account if the individual has access to that. Those in food deserts and food swamps can get that big mac and candy bar a whole lot easier than they can get a banana. Not to mention, not everything that is better for you is cost efficient. This article is talking about stevia. Stevia in my neighborhood runs about 4.99 for a small container (about 10 oz). A 4lb bag of sugar costs ~2.00 depending on brand. Which one do you think a person with limited income is going to choose?

          • kjarens

            I buy my sweetener at Sams and Turvia is 3 times as much as Splenda. I get 1200 packets of Splenda for the same price as 400 of Truvia.

          • Lori

            No doubt Splenda is much cheaper, but that’s not the point of the article. I think the previous comment was pointing out that sugar is the cheapest of all, and the worst for you.

          • Mia Clawson

            bad analogy…the time it takes to buy take away, is time you could be preparing healthy meal….its an excuse…cook food minji, you’ll be surprised at how good it tastes.

          • Mia Clawson

            Oh, and, my daughter and her family were as poor as dirt, yet she could buy cheap vegetables (farmers markets, specials) and make good nourishing meals with what she had, her children grew up on home cooked meals, she worked too…..it takes a bit more effort, but if you actually ‘want’ to, you can do it.

          • Cesar Torres

            Good point. People are lazy, do not want to cook healthy food or make smart choices.

          • Michael McGrath

            Are your prices for organic and free range foods?

          • Paula Rhea

            Have you actually priced raw veg lately? It’s a WHOLE lot less expensive than anything processed. It’s all about choices and priorities.

        • And meat also contains growth hormones.

      • CD

        The point is, that “All Natural” is NOT synonymous with “Good for you.”

        • BlueCornMoon

          Not synonymous with “tastes good” either !

      • Danbo Revisited

        Dumb response

      • That is a sound and rigorous process.

    • patstar5

      This is ridiculous, a tribe has been using stevia for centuries.
      It’s the only sweetener that I 100% trust.
      Sugar and fructose do terrible things to your body. Even though honey, maple syrup, and fruit are “natural”.

      • Manders

        Which tribe is “a tribe?” That’s terribly vague.
        There’s no reason to be to be so stringent, even about sugar. Our body needs a variety of things to survive and be healthy. The problem is, as with many things, that there is too much of sugar in the typical American diet, probably more than most people realize, if it consists of lots of packaged foods. Moderation and whole foods – including some fruit, and a little honey or maple syrup, are the key.

        • patstar5

          People can survive on meat alone. Look at the Eskimos in Canada.
          A hunter gatherers we would of ate primarily meat.

          • Shade

            And Asians eat bunch of rice. Sometimes we will only eat rice mix with sauce (soy, fish sauce) without the protein.

            Honestly I had never seen that much diabetes until I came to the US.

          • patstar5

            10,000 years ago no humans were consuming rice.
            You are seeing an increase in processed food and sugar intake in China and other Asian countries, they are starting to get obese like Americans.
            White rice is bassically an empty carb source. It doesn’t contain anti nutrients like most grains do because the shell is removed.

          • Dick Johnson

            Your full of crap, rice cultivation started approx 12,000 years ago in China. Rice really isn’t a problem as most of Asia has been consuming rice for a long time and until western fast food made its way into Asia your typical Asian was not fat. Don’t blame rice for making people fat, that’s absurd.

          • patstar5

            12,000 years is nothing compared to the 1 million+ years humans have been on this planet. We don’t need grains, they contain antinutrients and mess with our gut.
            As I said, white rice is less problematic than the other grains. But now you have chemicals being sprayed all over our food and getting into our water supply. It’s terrible.

          • Dick Johnson

            Grains have never been a problem until the last 30 to 40 years. Evil organizations like Monsanto have gone and genetically modified all of our grains. We are so far away from heirloom wheat that I’m not sure how much of the true organism remains. We gone so far as to include round up in the seeds itself to eliminate weeds and to fight off pests. More and more evidence is popping up supporting the theory that gluten is in fact not the real problem but there is some other irritant in the grain causing people distress. Personally I think gluten allergy is bs unless you have been diagnosed as having celiac.

          • patstar5

            It’s not just gluten. Grains have other properties that make them bad for us. Have you read the book “wheat belly”?
            Even einkorn, the first form of wheat, isn’t really “safe”.
            Wheat hasn’t been genetically modified. It has been hybridized and mutated which is probably worse than being Genetically modified.

          • Duh

            You know that Monsanto doesn’t modify wheat, right?

          • Steve Jones

            That’s funny. I’ve spent a lot of time in China on business over the past 7 years, and the mainlanders regard rice alone as a food that poor people eat and get fat.

          • Jessica

            I think the problem with white rice is the plastic they are putting in it now.

          • Diane T.

            we would * have *

          • John Goode

            Meat has sugar in it. All living things have sugar, fat, protein, and nucleic acids.

        • Kelly Walters

          I agree. I found using sweet and low made sugar seem less sweet, if that makes any sense. I want to cut down on sugar and that’s why I thought stevia seemed like a good option. I know it doesn’t affect everyone the way it did me.

      • Dj Horton

        What tribe would that be exactly? What is the average lifespan of these tribe members? What is the obesity rate? Heart disease? Cancer? How much stevia do they consume daily? How does that compare to the calories they consume from other nutrients?

        Just because “a tribe” has been using it for centuries doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Flawed logic to say the least.

        • Lance Trahan

          These are perfect questions to ask. People shouldn’t blindly follow into something based on a single factoid.

      • Alan Stenglein

        Ridiculous? Your logic is, maybe. Hominids have been using sugar and fructose for centuries. No, make that millennia. Many millennia.

        • Serena Champ Aneres

          I’d add- naturally occurring. Not sucking the fructose out of corn and refining it 😉

        • Serena Champ Aneres

          And I have no problem with Stevia. It’s probably fine in moderation. To me, it’s like maple syrup and honey. As long as it is something I go outside and get, I’m alright with it!

        • Alan Stenglein

          Serena, you do know I was responding to patstar5, I hope. I also have no problem with Stevia. Or maple syrup. Or honey. And I agree about the corn syrup. My gripe with panstar was the logic in that comment.

      • Dick Johnson

        There is nothing wrong with sugar, raw Unbleached sugar. Moderation is key, no Coke with 12 teaspoons. That does bad things to your insulin system.

        • patstar5

          Even natural sugar is still sugar. HFCS and honey both have the same effect on your body. Tons of fructose which causes issues

          • Dick Johnson

            Natural sugar is still sugar. What? Yes of course, so what is your problem?

        • Serena Champ Aneres

          American Coke doesn’t actually have 12 tsp of sugar in it…it has HFCS in it which is much more horrible for you.
          I agree, though, that the form is very important. Raw, unbleached sugar is way better than the granulated ick in the packets at McDonalds. But, if you’re putting the natural sugar in everything you eat, you’re still going to have health concerns.
          Maybe that was what Pat was saying?

          • Dick Johnson

            You are correct, HFCS is bad stuff and the industry is been trying to downplay that for years. That stuff is no good for you and it messes with your insulin system. Pats all over the place, so I don’t know. I do know that a little bit of unbleached suger is not gonna kill you. I rarely use sugar 2 teaspoons a day if that which equates to 1 teaspoon per cup of coffee. For somebody in the US that way under average consumption…hahah. Everything in moderation.

      • RC

        The pure stevia that they are getting straight from the plant in their native country is not the same as the processed stuff in the store. I think that part of the article is being overlooked.

    • AJR65

      Now that was a ridiculous statement. You obviously don’t have a clue how cocaine is processed? Ammonia, Kerosene, and other toxic chemicals are commonly used to derive cocaine from the cocoa leaf. The cocoa leaf itself is totally harmless. Pure Stevia is a harmless plant and or chemical. Other countries have used it for many years. Unfortunately we live in country where the FDA is in bed with lobbyist and multi corporations who would rather not hurt their bottom line for sugar, and HFCS products. Stevia will always be called an additive for this reason which is very very sad. Please do not spread misinformation like this.

      • Danbo Revisited

        She said it was just her two cents worth. Can she have an opinion?

      • segaba

        You’re nitpicking. Substitute opium for cocaine, then. If it were legal, one could throw some poppy seeds on some manure, wait a while, scratch the pods, collect the sap, roll it into little balls, package and label them with phrases like “100% Natural Pain Relief,” “Vegan,” “Non-GMO,” “Organic,” etc., and this might not be deceptive marketing — except for the implication that they’re safe to gobble by the handful.

      • Alan Stenglein

        Yours is the ridiculous statement; at least the first 3 sentences are. It doesn’t matter whether she knows how cocaine is processed. The cocaine alkaloid IS a component of the coca leaf and IS natural. Her statement “We really need to be mindful about what we put in our bodies and how it’s processed” seems to be the same as what you seem to be (arrogantly) purporting yourself. Nor is she spreading misinformation. She reporting an experience and as such is merely something to take into consideration.

    • Sean Lynch

      Always remember that natural has nothing to do with being good for you or safe for you. Cyanide and arsenic are both natural. The lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water is also natural. Asbestos is a natural mineral dug from the ground.

      Organic is another term misused by marketers trying to convince you to give them your money. Syphillis is 100% organic and 100% natural. So are gonorrhea, bubonic plague and small pox.

      This article does raise some concerns. Most people do not realize that government agencies, like the FDA, no longer work like they used to. The FDA no longer conducts many independent tests for food and drug safety. Instead, they now outsource that work to the manufacturers of the products being tested.

      This article shows this change in governance. Back when the FDA used to test things, they found evidence for stevia being related to higher cancer rates, but now that we listen to the companies trying to make money selling stevia all those worries have disappeared!

      Stevia is probably not very dangerous. It is probably much less dangerous than developing type 2 diabetes. As in all things, moderation is probably the key. Do you really need all that sweetener? Black coffee actually tastes quite nice, as do unsweetened tea a nice cool drink of water (hold the lead please).

      • Natural cyanide isn’t good for me? But its all natural!

      • Pontoffel Pock

        I like my coffee like my women…

        … hot!

  • Brad Rowley

    There are studies that show that stevia impacts serotonin and dopamine levels. Those with depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders should stay away.

    • Sally

      I hadn’t heard this. I have extensive mental health issues & I use Stevia in the Raw. Thanks for the comment. I’ll look into it further.

    • Vee

      Not me personally- I have found wonderful chocolate sweetened with organic stevia, and it makes me really happy! 🙂

    • Lorraine

      Hi Brad, could you cite the source on this – studies, etc? That is definitely concerning…

    • Eliot

      There are “studies” that show sunspots cause the economy to turn down. It’s really hard to make an informed decision, when the very same publication puts out contradicting articles.

  • Scott Gillespie

    There’s Stevia and then there’s Rebaudioside A. Rebaudioside A differs from Stevia in that it is a highly purified product. Products marketed as “Stevia” are whole leaf Stevia or Stevia extracts of which Rebaudioside A is a component. – Source: FDA

    Stevia in whole leaf form or crude extracts are not FDA approved as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe).

  • Vee

    I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I quickly gave up sugar, but was using Equal, or diet sodas containing aspartame, then I heard how bad it is, and I switched to Splenda types, but that is chemically chlorine-based. After many years, I was diagnosed with breast cancer- yes, there’s a link. I recommend all-natural Stevia with nothing else in it. it’s out there! Read labels. I love stevia, I grow my own plants too. Going through surgery, chemo & radiation was horrible, I don’t wish that on anyone, ever.

    • Virdie

      Vee, read your comment on stevia. Where did u get the stevia plant. I’d love to grow my own. VT.

      • Regina McLoud

        You can buy the Stevia plant at a nursery. I actually found Stevia plants sold at Kmart a couple of years ago. If the nursery by you does not carry them, ask them to get them in. I steep stems and leaves, along with decaffeinated green tea bags when I make iced tea, I also throw in mint stems and leaves. If you Google “how to use the stevia plant to sweeten foods” it will give you direction on making syrups and how to make a powder. Just know that the leaves are way less concentrated than the powder sold in stores, so you will need to use more of it. Typically, I buy about 3 or 4 plants each spring.

      • patstar5

        I’ve read that it isn’t as sweet as the pure stevia you will buy from stores.
        Amazon had pure stevia available.
        Search “pure stevia no fillers”. The powder should be white and there should only be one ingredient

    • Jill Lee

      How do you use the stevia leaves? Do you have to dry them? I had a stevia plant last year but was clueless how to use it for sweetening my food.

      • Vee

        lol i gave up on that & buy it already made now… only Organic

  • Jean-Guy

    I have to agree with the blood pressure part. I use to be a loyal splenda user up until 4 years ago when I had a bad BP spike 148/90. It freaked me out since I eat a high fibre diet. I’ve since switched to stevia and have been using it for 4 years. I haven’t changed my diet and my BP was 119/72 when I checked before Christmas. I would like to give it up but I only have 2 cups of coffee a day so I don’t feel threatened by it.

  • ggb1643

    I buy a liquid from the health food store called Stevita. Do you know anything about it?

    • Chris

      Just make sure their isn’t anything else in the ingredients like alcohol.

      • Terr Hastings

        Hello, I’m a big fan of stevia. I’ve read that the sugar industry has gone to great lengths to fund sugar research. I’m thinking average research. I find that research is interesting and prefer to be somewhat subtle in making my remarks. Do you? It’s o.k to be a stevia fan. I must admit that using stevia has contributed greatly to my losing 20 lbs. Further, about Thanksgivings time of 2015, hoping not to regain weight, I decided I would use zero calorie stevia chocolate drops in place of other forms of chocolate. This is about sustainable satiety and works well.

        I’ve also purchased, for a reasonable amount, a stevia cookbook. Enjoy.

  • Susan Wdl

    Any thoughts on how Stevia compares to xylitol and other plant based sugar alternatives?

  • Teresa Braud

    Really the FDA!!! The biggest liars out there besides big pharma!!! Now they have joined together!!!

  • ericstarker

    I met up with a nutritionist who recommended the brand Sweetleaf as one of the few brands that actually contains just stevia, not additional ingredients. I’ve been using their packets and liquid form for a while now and have enjoyed – I’m sure there are other brands that only use stevia, but check the ingredient list closely.

    • david mills

      I agree. In the beginning I tried to make the switch from sweet n low to stevia and all the stevia brands I tried just tasted aweful. I knew that sweet n low is probably the worst artificial sweetener to take but at the sane time it has no calories and I love the taste. I knew I needed to try to force the switch to stevia and found Sweetleaf at Sprouts. It absolutely tastes amazing ! It is very close tasting to sugar and no aftertaste. I am so glad I found this stuff. It is expensive compared to other stevia but well worth it. I only use it in my coffee and tea. So literally 1-3 packets let day. I think that is well withing the moderation use.

      • Belinda Wall

        Yes I agree I tried many artificial sweetners. And the Sweetleaf label (Sprouts) to me has no aftertaste and has helped me lower my BG. I am so grateful to have found it.

      • Serena Champ Aneres

        Good for you! I tried tons of “dieting” but after I went off fake sweetener (for a brain injury) I lost 60 lbs without even trying. That fake stuff really messes with your body.

        • jcampbell007

          Wow! That’s encouraging!

    • DSpaceNine

      Thanks for the tip Eric!

    • John Catoline

      Thanks Eric! I use the liquid form only (Trader Joes has a Sweetleaf version). Some powdered brands add maltodextrin which has its own issues.

      • I use Trader Joe’s stevia packets.

    • Cannoneer 155

      The problem is googling “Sweetleaf” and then sorting out the Black Sabbath and Ozzy Ozbourne references. Or is that just me?

      • disqus_jB3QMnzUB7

        LOL, yeah it makes you want to cough like Tony Iommi….

      • Mike Massey

        The thing to remember about searching Google is to use the”-” to block out some results. For instance, search sweetleaf -Black will yield no Black Sabbath references. Hope this helps!

      • Lisa Marie

        Bahahaha! That’s partly whey I buy it! LOL

    • B Red

      Agreed, so many of the other brands actually have a mixture. Label reading is a must. NOW brand is also pure stevia and as an organic line as well.

    • disqus_jB3QMnzUB7

      That’s what I use and I think it works great as long as you don’t over-do it. It can have a bitter taste if you put too much on.

    • Serena Champ Aneres

      Exactly! After a brain injury, I was told by my neuro to stop all artificial sweeteners. I was addicted to Coke Zero. About 2 months later I had one of those sodas and OMG. I had the worst migraine and upset stomach. It’s amazing how horrible they can make you feel. I tried the “Stevia” whatever brand and was getting sick too (but much less so) until I realized they were blended with erythritol and other substances. Now I get the drops that are pure Stevia and I have no issues whatsoever.

  • Craig Raper

    I have been using stevia for a while. Finally found a place that sells it without all the fillers. 1tsp =1 cup sugar. Iove it. I make southern style sweet tea and that means a lot of sugar. I can make a 1lb bag last over a year. and that is 2 to 3 gallons tea a week

    • Lisa Casey

      Where did you find it without all the fillers?

      • Craig Raper

        A place called Z natural foods in Fl

    • Linda Ellis Lerner

      I am on the Z natural foods website. They offer several. The only 1 offered 1 lb is organic & made in in India. Is this the one you buy? Thank you.

      • Craig Raper

        I had posted a link to the direct but they removed that here is what to look for. Think it is extracted in china . Origin: Grown in Paraguay & extracted in China
        look under Herb & Root Powders

        • Linda Ellis Lerner

          Found it but they are sold out! Rats. I can ask to be notified when it is available again. Question….Did you ever try Truvia? I did & it took lots of packets to get anything sweet so I do not like it. Thanks!

          • Craig Raper

            They have a 2 oz bag that will get you by. I didn’t like truvia it I could taste. Before you buy the full 1 pound I would buy the 2 oz bag and try it out first

          • Linda Ellis Lerner

            Sold out in the 2 oz bag, too!

  • Dan Benskin

    Stevia is a known contraceptive, for hundreds of years this has been known & practiced in herbal medicines. Please research for yourself perhaps this is one reason why birth rates have dropped lately.I understand there are studies that day otherwise.. What would you expect in this day and age however for centuries ItS been used as one and IMO your readers should know that so they can make an informed decision by doing their own research on the subject.

    • Beth

      Do you have some citations or sources for this? I’m interested in learning more and have not heard about contraceptive properties in Stevia. Does it stimulate hormonal responses?

      • Dan Benskin

        Well without trying to sound like a cop out is been so long since I’ve researched it in particular sources elude me. The information is out there Google it you’ll get the current mumbo jumbo saying there’s no evidence showing this. Then as you read other sources you’ll see that for over 1500 years it’s been used in this fashion. In fact If I can remember the report back in the fifties I think there was a draft in using Stevia to reduce population growth in the world. If I can find it I’ll post info about it.

        • beth

          Ok, thanks. My internet research on stevia safety did not yield a lot of substantial or credible results. I started using it 4 or 5 years ago in liquid form and was especially interested in documented research on safety, particularly for children. I’ll continue to check back on this site if you do happen to locate any additional sources and I will look for the Erlich source. Thanks for your response.
          Beth

      • Dan Benskin

        Check out the book written in 1970 by Paul and Ann erlich and then basically copied and republished by Obama’s health czar the title is resources population environment. There’s a bunch of depopulation information in there but one thing they touch on is also using stevia and what it can do.

  • Chris

    The article above said it’s most likely safe and never actually recommends it. It makes suggestions to use it in moderation and try substituting natural sweeteners, like fruit, in place of it. It is meant to be educational not influential.

  • Chris

    I think you have to use it a lot. An occasional ingestion of stevia isn’t going to prevent pregnancy. Otherwise, they’d make a killing on candy for birth control. 😉

  • Laurie St Germain

    Stevia is used in Australia to prevent destruction of small peripheral blood
    vessels especially in diabetics with great success. Also shown promising for treating skin cancers. This is pure stevia only. In the US, as typical, we process, alter, and bastardize everything to the point that it becomes almost useless

    • plusaf

      I appreciate your closing generalization, but it’s not proof of anything about Stevia… in case you didn’t notice…

  • Donna Boling

    Gives me a headache, even in small doses. I rarely have headaches. I avoid it at all cost and refuse to try anything with it now. Also heard from my nutritionalist that So. Am Indians don’t use it as a sweetner but as birth control. Weird.

  • “…and doesn’t leave much of an aftertaste.” I call BS on that one. I have tried every kind of Stevia out there-liquid in alcohol, liquid in glycerin, pure powder, powder with added dextrose (which your body converts to glucose before it leaves your mouth, so what is the point), etc. All have a terrible, bitter aftertaste. I made some brownies with pure stevia powder and flax meal. The only way I could stomach them was to drown them in cream. I will stick to erythritol.

    • Craig Raper

      Stevia used properly leaves way less after taste than aspartame, sweet and low and all those chemically reproduced sugars

  • Corey Hertz

    “The answer may surprise you … Yes (it is healthy).” Wow, real shocker there… Thanks for wasting 2 minutes of my day.

    • Semper Fi

      If it took you two minutes to read that, you have bigger issues.

      • Corey Hertz

        I can do a lot in 2 minutes, just ask your wife.

  • Eliot

    Sounds like an agenda here. The article clearly says “probably safe” and also says it’s still considered a food supplement – perhaps not the most definitive description, but see how the FDA describes “food supplement.” The article also says it has been around for thousands of years, but hasn’t been around long enough to know if it’s safe?

    Not that I’m a fan of Stevia. It gives me headaches and it DOES have an aftertaste. In fact, less than a week ago, I read an article about how stevia stimulates both sweet and sour receptors and, therefore, comes with a built-in aftertaste.

  • ChicaboGirl

    I agree with Chris. Besides – Aspartame is man-made and definitely not good for you. I don’t trust the FDA – they allow many drugs on the market that have so many side effects that big pharma has to pay more (like it really hurts their bottom line) to advertise their drugs (e.g.: longer commercials to disclose side effects). What makes the FDA such an expert? HellifIknow … I only know that I don’t trust them and their decisions; I realize this is off-topic but consider anti-depressants and black box warnings. Do a little research in to the credibility of the lovely government backed FDA and a little company called Glaxo-Smith-Kline and the the penalty the DOJ imposed on them about 6 or so years ago. Ever since then – and the fact that they allow these drugs to remain on the market the credibility the FDA has in my book is null. I do my research and will stick with organic, natural Stevia (which is also available in non-bleached forms, btw).

  • Penny O

    I’ve looked at many “stevia” labels and most contain some other type of sugar like lactose or dextrose. The only stevia I use is 100% pure stevia that I get at Trader Joe’s for $10 for about 1000 servings.

  • Ezinne

    Thanks for the article. I use “Truvia” occasionally but as I am now watching my calories I decided to investigate this product and it turns out it is not a pure stevia extract and contains harmful substances. BUMMER!!!

    My suggestion will be to try to find natural sweeteners in your whole foods or fresh market. I recently found this coconut sugar thingy … only 5 calories for a tbsp! Not bad and I love Coconut! The package also claims it can be used for baking but the granules are much larger in size so I dunno how easy they are to dissolve/mix in other ingredients.

    Does anyone have any other low cal sweetners they’ve tried that is mostly natural!

    • patstar5

      I use pyure for baking. It’s a blend of stevia and erythritol (a sugar alcohol). It is like truvia but organic. My Walmart carries it.
      For drinks I just use liquid or pure stevia.

  • DSpaceNine

    Thanks for the information. Like many Americans, I find it a struggle to gather and eat things that are good for me. Its a lot of work, not to mention expensive. Sure a 50 cent box of mac-n-cheese or a $2 frozen pizza would taste great, but instead I’m assembling $5 or more of veggies and freshly cooked proteins for every meal so I can be healthy. My point? America’s food industry doesn’t have our health in mind.

    • patstar5

      The rule is to shop the perimeters of a supermarket, don’t go into the aisles. That’s where most of the processed food is.
      The American dietary Guidelines and agriculture industry must work hand in hand to promote consumption of their products. Even though they are terrible for us.

  • Crama

    We now use liquid organic stevia extract from Now Foods. It’s the best. No aftertaste whatsoever. It lasts a long time. Here’s the code number from the back: 6991F In the past we’ve used the green whole leaf, and the white powder. Both had an unpleasant aftertaste and bitterness. I’ll stick with the liquid extract.

  • Rose

    What about stevia in the raw, does that mean less processing

    • patstar5

      No! It contains fillers! But sweetleaf stevia, or stevia select from Amazon.

  • billstreeter

    Bananas and dates are still adding sugar, sorry.

  • jessica ruddock

    Top health advisors have shown studies that stevia actually helps stabilize glucose levels in people with diabetes and may aid in killing bacteria in those with Lyme disease. Be aware of the alcohol content in many stevia drops on the shelves. If it contains alcohol you are not treating the body with stevia. Only a few drops are needed this stuff is strong. Dates, while a fruit, remember do contain a lot of sugar as well as bananas. Putting 20 dates into sweetening a baked good doesn’t make it sugar free.

    • patstar5

      Sugar is sugar! No matter if it’s naturally occurring like from honey or fruit! It is still sugar.
      Though by eating fruit you consume fiber which does satiate your appetite.

  • bmosk

    I recently went through a lifestyle change and diet reform and was using stevia as a substitute. I lost 40lbs and trained for a marathon. after about a year, during my routine checkups my doctor noted that my white blood cell count was seriously low. He suggested I return to a natural and unprocessed diet (i.e. remove stevia and any purified foods or isolates). I was only using stevia at the time and switched back to raw sugar. After that my white cell count went up. So as with anything, be sure the ingredients work with your body… You never know what you may be sensitive to.

  • Rhetta Jack

    We just grow it in our garden.

  • Lynn Graff

    I tried Stevia, but it was too sweet, so I switched to Truvia. Can you fill me in on the pros and cons of Truvia?

  • Robert Lewis

    From above article: “It’s safe to say that when consumed in reasonable amounts” What is considered a reasonable amount?

  • bjn

    1991 banned, then in 1995 GRAF. Sounds a little suspicious. Someone getting “bought out”? Tried stevia as substitute in banana bread….left funny taste.

  • Chris

    Thanks Rochelle, it’s amazing what they market as safe and us consumers just ‘take it in’ and start using it. I wish I hadn’t waited 47 years to trust our food. Reading labels and eating better has given me so much more energy. Thinking ‘low fat’or ‘ no fat’ and ‘low sugar’ etc….was good for me. Boy I’ve sure learned a lot.GO GO Coconut oil, olive oil, honey, pure maple syrup. Gone Paleo. I have so much more energy and I’m losing weight.

  • Alexis Joseph…I have nothing to add to the debate below. But I’d like to say, thanks for the informative post! I’ve been using Stevia for several years now and have had no problems with it. It’s not an excitotoxin like the other sweetener alternatives; so I feel confident that I’m not adding a cancer causing agent to my body. Your post has just boosted my confidence in the product. Thanks for the article!!

  • Karl

    Sometimes when I fart i scoop it up towards my nose to see what it smells like.

  • Alan Stenglein

    Please re phrase your first sentence so I’m certain I understand it. Thx

  • hmizer

    This article omits the real reason Stevia was banned and then, once removed from the banned list, prohibited from being sold as a sweetener. For years Stevia was available but could only be labeled a “food supplement” in the USA. Meanwhile it was already the leading diet soda sweetener in Japan.

    The real reason behind the ban and labeling restrictions was a company led by one Donald Rumsfeld. That company was Searl and they had a brand new artificial sweetener that was approved by the FDA in record time. It was and is called Nutrasweet/aspartame. Searl brought ample pressure to bear and forced the ban and labeling restrictions.

    As for those concerned about Stevia, keep in mind it has been used by native peoples for – literally – millennia. That’s pretty decent testing

  • Robert Johnson

    Stevia had prove it’s safe but Saccharin did not ….

  • Diane

    The problem with Stevia is it is from the same plant family as ragweed. So lots of people are allergic to it. It’s now in so many “health” foods and has caused me to have many allergic reactions. I hate it. I have to be so careful as to what I eat now out and about! So be warned!

  • No problems here with Stevia so far. But I sure had lots of problems with artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet (massive migraines) and Splendid (digestive problems)

  • Catherine

    Is stevia the one that has natural birth control elements to it? If you are trying to get pregnant, I would recommend researching this aspect.

  • bobweaver

    Why even bother with it?

  • Tricia Jackson Jones

    Gives me a raging headache!

  • Rickenbacker108

    Helpful information. But it seems to me that the real Q is how Stevia may or may not tell your body to store glucose as fat. This is an essential issue with carbs in the diet? This is harder research to conduct..

  • Dick Johnson

    I use sugar in the raw or honey, thats it. I use them in moderation, maybe a teaspoon in my coffee or tea but thats it. I don’t like things super sweet. Stevia, acsuflame, sucralose, etc all taste like crap to me.

  • Amanda

    Not for me! It gives me a migraine within minutes of consuming it! I have to read ingredients very carefully on foods and vegetables to make sure they don’t include Stevia. I picked up a flavored tea once at a gas station on a long drive and ended up having to extend my stop due to the near-instant migraine it caused me!

  • F

    I had a smooth recipe which called for 3 packets of Stevia. Since I never used this product before I chose to only use 1 packet. I had the drink in the morning, took a shower. As I was toweling off, I noticed that my skin was sensitive and slightly dark pink. I though I may have used too hot of water. I went on about my day and evening, but the next day I was in for a shock. My face was twice its normal size and my eyes were swollen shut. I’m just glad I was smart enough not to use 3 packets of a product I’ve never used. The result may have been?

  • Diane T.

    My concern is all the processing required to turn stevia from a green plant into white powder. I am not sure what else goes in there or exactly what happens to the plant in that process. Stevia grows well where I live, so I have been known to pick up a couple plants (usually in the herb section of the local nursery), grow it, and cut and dry the leaves myself, grinding them into a powder. That way, I KNOW what’s in it. I’m pretty convinced that is safe, but I would throw side-eye at the highly processed stevia that you find in the grocery store.

  • J zap

    maybe we should ask Paraguay or Brazil if it’s safe. They probably say ‘yes’ because they probably don’t process it as much as we do here in the US. They say Almond milk is good, but it’s unbelievable the amount of processing it takes to get ‘milk’ from an almond. Processed foods no matter their origins, are bad for us!

  • User_1

    I have been using the Stevia from my local 99 cent store. The ingredients listed are dextrose with maltodextrin, rebiana. That’s it. Hope they have this forever!

  • Diana

    so don’t bother replying if you want to attack me like you did patstar. But if you used your internet and books, you would see that even though testing in the good ole USA started not that long ago. Europe has done scientific testing and was using it over100 years ago. I has been proven the reason we did not have it here earlier was because of the powerful sugar lobbies. Only when it was so popular in the health food stores did the commercial makers jump on board. All Natural is still better than chemically derived, Like Splenda is from sugar but it is chemically altered to 0 calories

  • BlueCornMoon

    I have tried various brands of stevia & they ALL TASTE BITTER & NASTY LIKE SWEET MIXED WITH BITTER & there’s an aftertaste. I’ve read that how you taste things has a genetic component. I just use Splenda & call it a day. No problems at all

  • Paula

    I am highly allergic to Stevia! I get an immediate anaphylaxtic reaction simmilar to people allergic to peanuts. I read everything these days because this product is starting to get into everything. Becareful!

  • I grow stevia in my garden and love using it to sweeten my tea and baked goods!

  • Deacon Mike

    So I didn’t see a clear answer. Is Truvia and/or Pure Via considered “safe” by the author or not?

  • Cathy Rohl

    I use stevia just in my coffee. I use the liquid drops. Love it! I even like it better in my coffee than sugar! It’s got to be better for me than smoking (which I quit last year), than weighing nearly 200 lbs (which I used to weigh before I lost 50 lbs), and a myriad of other not good for me things! I’ll stick with it!

  • Leah Silver Graves

    I can’t have Stevia. I once had kombucha with Stevia right before a doctor’s appointment. It lowered my blood pressure too much. There’s warnings on WebMD that folks with blood pressure medicine should not have Stevia. I’m not on the medication but it is not safe for me personally.

  • Rcsully

    I tried Stevia and had severe stomach aches and diarrhea so its for sure not safe for me.

  • Terri

    Anonymously could they co-locate Ops with OPR?

  • Michael David Stemle

    Yeah, this is pseudoscience garbage. “Natural” is a meaningless distinction, and artificial sweeteners have been around for almost half a century now. We’ve done plenty of studies, and the only consistent result is that many of the artificial sweeteners – despite people who think “healthy” and “natural” are meaningful and synonymous terms freaking out and making up nonsense – make living with Diabetes and other metabolic disorders easier. They make weight loss easier, and they make it so that those with legitimate dietary restrictions requiring the limiting of dietary sugars can participate in modern life.

    This article is garbage.

  • Diane Wasilisian

    Most of the stevias out there are processed like Splenda. Sweet Leaf is the only one I am aware of that is not processed. It is a taste you have to acquire as it doesn’t taste as sweet as splenda or reg sugar.

  • dave

    I think the key is “moderation”. I’ve been trying to move away from sweet foods as it seems to be so prevalent in the U.S.. It’s NOT easy, but I’m getting there. 🙂

  • DD877

    Live better through Chemistry???

  • Jessica

    Stating that the FDA approved stevia makes me want to use it less. Just being honest. 🙂

  • HildegardvonBringenit

    One other concern–stevia leaf has traditionally been used as a CONTRACEPTIVE and has been shown to affect fertility. Not recommended if you are trying to become pregnant.

  • Beverly Meteyer

    Take a look at a packet of Truvia or any similar granulized packet and you’ll see that the first ingredient is usually maltodextrin or some type of glucose. True Stevia extract is very expensive so the manufacturers. Try to trick us into thinking we are getting Stevia when we are not. The only pure Stevia that I have seen is in liquid form and sells for about $11 for a 2 oz bottle.

  • So put ripe bananas and dates into my coffee to sweeten it? I am so confuse.

  • FrankBarr

    I mostly use Truvia, but have also used other stevia products. The big difference I have noticed between Truvia and other kinds of stevia sweetners, is that Truvia has “erythritol” in it. Is that ingredient safe to have in your body?

  • Hayley Docken

    Stevia saved my life. I cut out sugar for 5 months and used only stevia as a sweetener-and lost 40 pounds. It’s so much better than chemical-laden artificial crap and it doesn’t spike your blood sugar or cause you to gain fat. You can buy stevia in plant form-taste a leaf-it’s intense how sweet it is. I use stevia in everything I can. So happy I’ve found it! Tip for people who “don’t like the taste”. Yes-it’s weird at first. Anything that’s not familiar will taste strange. But stick with it, and you will get used to the taste. Sweet leaf is great.

  • celeste1234

    I’ve been using stevia in my tea for about 20 years now with no problems. Glad things are catching up so I can find it even easier now.

  • N L

    If you have an allergy to Ragweed do not take Stevia cause they are from the same family. I had heart palpitations, extreme fatigue when drinking anything with this. I stopped and now I feel better. On another blog I follow people documented different reactions from sore muscles and joints and rashes from stevia. When they stopped taking it the symptoms went away. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is good for you.

  • BC

    Some have promoted Stevia extract for helping Lyme disease, but studies just show preliminary info.