Stevia (a natural non-sugar sweetener) to be Added to Popular Beverages

Stevia is a natural diet sweetener that tastes great (to most people) and is popular in Japan, China, and South America and has recently been approved in Canada for foods.  Stevia is much sweeter than sugar (up to 300 times), so 1/4 teaspoon is equivalent to a cup of sugar.  My family has used it to make delicious, healthy and sugar-free iced tea, waffles and cakes for at least 15 years.

Stevia Rebaudiana Flowers

Stevia Rebaudiana Flowers

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are now planning to add it so some of their beverages because the FDA has approved Stevia for use in food (it used to require labeling as a supplement).

Coca-Cola’s name for their stevia sweetener is Truvia and Pepsi’s is Purevia.

Stevia has been controversial in America for many years due to claims of liver and gene toxicity.  However, a 2006 report by the World Health Organization found that no signs of toxicity were seen at extremely high doses.  As a matter of fact, the No Observed Effect Level (NOEL – a measure of toxicity) was 970 mg per kilogram.  An average 150 lb person would have to consume 66,000 mg (over 2 ounces) at once to reach this NOEL; remember this is a level at which no adverse effects have been found!  A typical serving of Stevia is only 45 mg.  

As a matter of fact, there is some medical evidence highlighted in the report that Stevia may have therapeutic effects for type 2 diabetes and hypertension at dosages of approximately 850 to 1,700 mg per day.  This possible therapeutic dose is well below the NOEL but still much more than you would want to take for sweetening foods and beverages because it is equivalent to about 170-340 cups of sugar!

The Bottom Line:

Stevia – a safe and good tasting natural diet sweetener – will soon be available from mainstream beverage makers.  Stevia is safe and, with additional research, may prove to have health benefits beyond the resultant sugar avoidance in people with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Be well,

Richard

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