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Kelli Bonifer: The basics on Stevia

Like other sweeteners, products containing stevia should be used in moderation. You should carefully read the labels of all food and drinks containing the product as they may include additional calories or carbohydrates from other ingredients - KELLI BONIFER

By Kelli Bonifer
Adair County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences

There's been a lot of hype about stevia. Stevia is an extract of a shrub originating from South America and is also grown in India, South Korea and China.


In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of refined stevia, called Rebiana or Reb A, as an additive in food and beverage products in the United States. Refined stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. The sweetener has no calories, and studies have shown it does not cause a spike in blood-glucose levels, which may make it safe for diabetics. While it was only recently approved in the U.S., the Japanese have used stevia in their diets for years. It was also recently approved for human consumption by the European Union and Canada.

Since receiving approval from the FDA, many products containing processed and refined stevia have been released. Stevia is listed under many names including Stevia in the Raw, Sun Crystals, Pure Via, Enliten, Sweetleaf Sweetener and Truvia.

While products containing stevia may seem like a perfect low-calorie option for those with a sweet tooth, no medical evidence exists to show that it aids in weight loss any more than artificial sweeteners, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause mild side effects for consumers including nausea and the feeling of fullness. The FDA has not approved whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia for human consumption in its pure form yet due to concerns about its effect on blood sugar levels, and the renal, reproductive and the cardiovascular systems.

Like other sweeteners, products containing stevia should be used in moderation. You should carefully read the labels of all food and drinks containing the product as they may include additional calories or carbohydrates from other ingredients.

Additional food and nutrition information is available at the Adair County office of the UK Cooperative Extension Service, 409 Fairground Street, Columbia, KY. Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. - Kelli Bonifer, Adair County Extension Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences


This story was posted on 2013-08-20 11:05:36
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