Stevia still a zero calorie, safe, sweet secret to many
what is stevia?
Stevia is the name of a plant that is used as a sweetener. Stevia (also called sweetleaf, sweet leaf or sugarleaf) is a genus of about 150 species of herbs and shrubs belonging to the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America.1 The chemicals in stevia that cause its sweetness are stevioside and rebaudioside. Stevioside has no calories.
is stevia safe?
Stevia has been used by millions of users worldwide, in many countries such as Japan for thirty years. No reported or known harmful effects exist on humans.1
Using PubMed2 to search the term "stevia toxicity" we found that not only is stevia safe, it has been shown to inhibit tumor growth, as well. Here are highlights of the search results:
From JM Geuns, "Stevioside": "Acute and subacute toxicity studies reveal a very low toxicity of Stevia and stevioside."
Out of the 11 studies displayed by PubMed's database on March 6, 2006, none showed any toxicity of Stevia. On the contrary, a few showed it has cancer-fighting properties.
From Sekihashi, Saitoh, Sasaki, "Genotoxicity studies of stevia extract and steviol by the comet assay": "....stevia extract and steviol are concluded not to have DNA-damaging activity in cultured cells and mouse organs."
In "Inhibitory effect of stevioside on tumor promotion..." by Yasukawa and Kitanaka, to paraphrase, they found stevioside compounds, on the contrary, "markedly inhibit the promoting effect of...skin tumor formation..." in mice.
From "Effect of stevioside on growth and reproduction" by Yodyingyuad and Bunyawong: "We conclude that stevioside at a dose as high as 2.5g/kg body wt/day affects neither growth nor reproduction in hamsters."
beware of non-natural sweeteners
In contrast to natural sweetener stevia, many research studies and evidence mount to show that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet®), sucralose (Splenda®), and saccharine are dangerous.
where to buy
You can find stevia in health food stores, probably your grocery store, or less expensively on the web. Three popular, inexpensive sources are
SupplementsToGo.com, VitaminShoppe, and ShoppersChoice. See the ChampHealth Buyer's Guide for a list of more trusted, online stores.
2PubMed is a service of the well-respected National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Library of Medicine (NLM). It provides access to over 12 million biomedical citations from research-oriented, peer-reviewed, medical journals.