Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
8 Feb

A Primal Primer: Stevia

steviaAfter last week’s article many of you asked about a natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners: stevia. It is widely used in the low carb community to satisfy sugar cravings or simply add a touch of sweetness to a hot beverage or dessert, but should it be? What is stevia? Is it safe? What is its effect on insulin, if any, and does it have a place in a Primal Blueprint eating strategy? Let’s investigate.

Stevia is an herbaceous family of plants, 240 species strong, that grows in sub-tropical and tropical America (mostly South and Central, but some North). Stevia the sweetener refers to stevia rebaudiana, the plant and its leaves, which you can grow and use as or with tea (it was traditionally paired with yerba mate in South America) or, dried and powdered, as a sugar substitute that you sprinkle on. It’s apparently quite easy to grow (according to the stevia seller who tries to get me to buy a plant or two whenever I’m at the Santa Monica farmers’ market), and the raw leaf is very sweet.

Most stevia you’ll come across isn’t in its raw, unprocessed form, but in powdered or liquid extract form. The “sweet” lies in the steviol glycosides – stevioside and rebaudioside – which are isolated in these extracts. Some products use just one, while others use both stevioside and rebaudioside. Stevioside is the most prevalent glycoside in stevia, and some say it provides the bitter aftertaste that people sometimes complain about; rebaudioside is said to be the better tasting steviol glycoside, with far less bitterness. Most of the “raw or natural” stevia products use the full range of glycosides, but the more processed brands will most likely isolate one or more of the steviol glycosides. The popular Truvia brand of stevia products uses only rebaudioside, as do both PureVia and Enliten. Different brands provide different conversion rates, but compared to sucrose, stevioside is generally about 250-300 times as sweet and rebaudioside is about 350-450 times as sweet.

Does Stevia Affect Insulin?

There is one in vitro study that showed stevioside acts directly on pancreatic beta cells to stimulate insulin secretion and another which shows similarly insulinotropic effects of rebaudioside, which may give you pause. Insulin secretion sounds like an insulin spike, no? And since we tend to be wary of unneeded insulin spikes, maybe we should avoid stevia. It’s not so simple, of course. For one, this was an in vitro study, performed in a super-controlled laboratory petri dish type setting; this was not an in vivo study of animals or people eating stevia in a natural, organic way. The results of in vitro studies are notorious for not panning out when you try to replicate them in vivo. Secondly, insulin secretion isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, we need it to shuttle nutrients into cells, and we’d die without it. As I mentioned in the dairy post a few weeks back, insulin is millions upon millions of years old. It’s been preserved throughout history because it’s an essential hormone. It’s not always the bad guy, especially if you’re insulin sensitive.

In fact, the evidence is mounting that stevia actually is an insulin sensitizer that can aid in glucose tolerance and clearance after a meal. The Japanese have been using stevia for decades in the treatment of type 2 diabetics. Let’s look at a few recent studies. In fructose-fed rats, a single instance of oral stevioside increased insulin sensitivity and reduced postprandial blood glucose in a dose-dependent manner. The same study also found that diabetic rats given stevioside required less exogenous insulin for the same effect. Taken together, these results suggest that stevia may not just be a good sugar substitute for diabetics, but an effective supplement for treatment of their insulin resistance.

Another study looked at the postprandial effects of stevia, sucrose, and aspartame in human subjects. Compared to sucrose eaters, stevia eaters showed lower postprandial blood sugar levels. Compared to both sucrose and aspartame eaters, stevia eaters had far lower postprandial insulin levels. Furthermore, eating stevia did not induce increased appetite throughout the day, indicating stable blood sugar and satiety levels. Another strike in stevia’s favor.

Any Other Effects?

There are other potential benefits to using stevia unrelated to its apparent benefits on glycemic control. Here are a few studies I was able to dig up:

  • When combined with inulin, a soluble prebiotic fiber, low-dose stevia increased HDL while lowering overall lipids in male rats. Alone, low-dose stevia lowered cholesterol without the potentially beneficial effect on HDL. It’s also useful to note that high-dose stevia negatively affected some toxic parameters – so don’t eat spoonfuls of stevia (not that you would) – but long term low-dose stevia was deemed safe.
  • Lipid numbers are fun and all, but we’re really interested in avoiding atherosclerotic plaque buildup. In mice treated with stevioside, oxidized LDL was reduced, overall plaque volume was reduced, and insulin sensitivity increased. Overall, atherosclerosis was reduced in the stevioside-treated mice. I couldn’t dig up exactly how they were “treated,” however, but they were given doses of 10 mg/kg.
  • In another study, mice memory was impaired by administration of scopolamine, an anticholigernic found in the intensely hallucinogenic jimson weed (or devil’s weed) and datura. Impaired mice were given oral stevioside (250 mg/kg) and tested for memory retention. Memory deficit was largely reversed with administration of stevioside, which also reduced the brain oxidative damage caused by scopolamine. Clinically relevant? Perhaps not, but it’s interesting.
  • A two-year randomized, placebo-controlled study of Chinese patients with mild hypertension (which a rather large swath of society probably suffers from) found that oral stevioside intake significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Patients either took a 500 mg capsule of stevioside or a placebo three times a day for two years. The hypertension situation improved across the board and no downsides were reported or detected. Also of note is the fact that slightly more patients in the placebo group developed left ventricular hypertrophy, a pathological thickening of the heart muscle. Of course, another study using far lower doses (up to 15 mg/kg/day) found no anti-hypertensive effects, so it appears that the dose is key. Maybe somewhere in the middle works well, as one study in hypertensive dogs showed: they used 200 mg/kg to normalize blood pressure in the canine subjects.

We can think about stevia as a Primal sugar alternative with some potentially therapeutic effects. Kind of like cinnamon or turmeric, we don’t consume it for the calories or as literal fuel for our bodies, but for flavor, variety, and, possibly, the health benefits. It may induce insulin secretion, but it increases insulin sensitivity, reduces blood glucose (i.e., the insulin is doing its job), and does not increase appetite. It’s been used by humans for hundreds of years and by diabetic patients in Asia for decades. The goofy health food store dude who claims aspartame was created by Donald Rumsfeld to give us cancer may be a vociferous supporter of it, but don’t hold that against stevia. I’m a fan of the stuff and recommend it as a Primal way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

What do you guys think of stevia? Love it? Hate it? Have you ever used its potential therapeutic effects? Let me know in the comment section!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Fantastic article on stevia. Love it! For all of you Primals…if you go to http://www.steviva.com/ and use the coupon code STEVIVA10 you will get 10% off stevia sweeteners plus free shipping.

    Thom King wrote on February 8th, 2011
  2. I grew it in a pot on my deck last summer and when I made iced tea, I snipped off a branch of the stevia along with fresh mint to steep with the tea leaves. It added a sweetness, but nothing like the sweetness you achieve when you sprinkle the powdered form. I liked chewing on the leaves too, for a sweet treat. I had the feeling then that the leaves were the best way to go.

    Penny wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • It’s great to use in cooking like a bay leaf too! Steeping it in a pan of thai eggplant instead of sugar is incredible.

      Amber wrote on February 10th, 2011
  3. It’s interesting how my pallet has changed. I used to gag when I would try Stevia. Now I grow it and use it every day. My 4,3,& 2 year old eat the leaves as if they are treats. They love it. I use stevia to bake and sweeten their foods.
    I can also say that after using stevia as my natural sweetener I have cured my PCOS. It definitely works for me. I also enjoy another amazing sweetener called Lakanto. It’s even better to bake with.

    Mel wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • Do you think growing it helps the taste, is fresh better? I kind of miss some sweet stuff, but stevia has, so far, completely grossed me out every time I tried it. I so want to like it….

      twistedspinner wrote on February 9th, 2011
  4. Why bother? I haven’t found it necessary to add sweetener to anything since becoming Primal.

    Neal wrote on February 8th, 2011
  5. I grew a Stevia plant in my garden last year and it thrived until mid summer when it abruptly died (we live in Northern Canada). Crush a leaf or two in a glass with a few mint leaves, some lime juice and soda, and it’s the most refreshing summer drink I’ve found yet. We served it at our daughter’s birthday party instead of typical canned soda, and it disappeared quickly. Great stuff!

    Vicki wrote on February 8th, 2011
  6. I have tried Stevia, I find the taste waaaay too sweet for me so I stick with honey or maple syrup in tiny amounts. I am more of a salt junky any way, although I noticed that since I stopped eating a high carb diet I don’t crave it as much.

    Mary wrote on February 8th, 2011
  7. Trader Joe’s has an organic Stevia extract powder in a little container. It’s good! Once you get used to the bitterness, you won’t even notice it. I use stevia in cooking/baking and will usually use a little honey along with it to cut the bitterness.

    theresa wrote on February 8th, 2011
  8. I’ve tried many brands of stevia and have found that they differ immensely from brand to brand.
    I have not had a good tasting stevia that came in liquid form. However, the brand called Sweetleaf is the best tasting powdered among all the different types I’ve tasted.
    I don’t use sweeteners very much other than plain yogurt and coffee, which is a natural sweetener to use because of the bitterness factor.

    cathyx wrote on February 8th, 2011
  9. Dan Quinn Discovered this years ago. Blending stevia into water filers out all the harmful impurities into a natural gas, creating PureH20, Cold Fission. As far as health benefits, it has shown to have cured cancer in small animals and makes everyone fast and lean. snorting JaJa stevia can also create a similar feeling as snorting cocaine

    It’s a great product

    Tara Chow wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • …and it turns lead into gold! Great stuff. Absolute magic, and makes flying monkeys from nothing but a little corn starch and sesame oil.

      Alchymist wrote on February 8th, 2011
  10. Does anyone know the manufacturing process of Stevia? How do they get a nice green plant into a powdery white substance? Do they bleach it or perform any other sort of unnatural act on it to get it that way?

    Bob Hennessey wrote on February 8th, 2011
  11. Sugar beets are a whole different thing than the regular beets! Also, my concern with many stevia products is they contain other things like dextrose or erythitol to make it a powder and less concentrated.

    Sunny wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • Thanks Sunny, I was thinking there wasn’t a difference in beets since they pretty much look the same on the outside (we have many sugar beets in our state, you’d think I’d have known). Maybe I’ll try a couple of stevia plants so I can avoid the dextrose or other additives, or just stick to the all natural honey!

      Sara wrote on February 8th, 2011
  12. Thanks, Mark for another informative article. If you’re covering alternative sweeteners, I’d love to know your thoughts on coconut sugar. I just saw it in Whole Foods for the first time and understand that it has a low GI score?

    Lisa wrote on February 8th, 2011
  13. I’ve tried this stuff and I just can’t get used to it. Really has an odd aftertaste.

    John wrote on February 8th, 2011
  14. I also do not like the aftertaste of it. I can sometimes drink a lemonade with a little drop of stevia, but I would rather have a smidge of raw honey in tea as well. I don’t like things very sweet, so I can deal with the carbs in 1/4 tsp of honey. I did use stevia to get my boys off diluted juice. My older son would go all day without drinking any water until I started adding a small amount of juice to it. But fructose really bloats him up, so I needed something that would not bloat him, and stevia worked for that. I have just gotten the boys just back on plain water though. That is the best thing for them.

    momof2groks wrote on February 8th, 2011
  15. I’ve used Stevia (truvia) to make fresh lemonade and I think it tastes good enough to get that sweet taste for a drink. I have sinced drop the daily use of it, but for a weekend drink I might make some lemonade.

    Derrick wrote on February 8th, 2011
  16. I have a Stevia patch growing in my herb garden and I use it as an herb in cooking and teas. I tend not to use extracts since often the benefit of a medicinal herb comes from the interplay of many different parts of the plant, extracting a specific portion of the plant can lead to an imbalance.

    Richard wrote on February 8th, 2011
  17. Did you not comprehend the article? It doesn’t that’s the whole point! It causes no insulin spike therefore your body doesn’t recognise it.

    If it did, I’d be about 22 stone again by now!

    Sarah wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • We comprehend the article differently. I understand that the extracts appear to cause no insulin spike, therefore my body does not react to it in the same way it reacts to sugar. I’m still not certain in what other ways my body might react to the isolated ingredient as opposed to the whole plant. It doesn’t matter, I pretty much dislike sugar in most of it’s forms anyway. Eliminating sweets has had the result of making a much wider portion of the food spectrum tasting sweeter to me. Cheers! And congrats on leaving 22 stone behind!

      Richard wrote on February 8th, 2011
      • You a Brit/Aussie/Kiwi/Canuck, mate? Yanks don’t know what stones are!

        Sarah wrote on February 9th, 2011
        • 22 Stone = ~= 305 North American lb’s. I do metric by preference. Southern Oregonian by birth, but ten years living in Norway and traveling Europe has twisted my Yank a bit. The little plot of land I live on now is right at the intersection of four ecological zones, so we can grow a lot of diverse crops. Most of my food comes right out of the ground and is harvested minutes before it hits the table. Got buffalo here too. They still won’t let me hunt it with a spear though.

          Stevia is a beautiful little plant that can take over if it finds a comfy spot. I do drink coffee, and tea, but I don’t dilute the coffee flavor or the tea flavor with other herbs as a general rule. I just find a flavor of coffee I like that tastes good black, so there is no need of sweetener. Cold water extract instead of hot brewing makes a coffee that usually needs no masking herbal flavor. I find Stevia a nice leafy addition to some salads and occasionally in a cold tea. It tastes best as a fresh leaf in my opinion, and uncooked. I don’t believe I would find a use for the extracted sweetener.

          Richard wrote on February 9th, 2011
  18. I have PCOS, so am predisposed to be insulin insensitive. The problem is, I live in the UK, so have to import my stevia from the US because our moronic government – or rather the EU (it’s a Brussels thing) refuses to license it for commercial use or sale in liquid, tablet or granulated form.

    Yet they’ve licensed: –

    Sorbitol (E420)
    Mannitol (E421)
    Isomalt (E953)
    Neotame (E961 – never heard of it)
    Maltitol (E965)
    Lactitol (E966)
    Xylitol (E967)
    Erythritol (E968)
    Acesulfame K (E950)
    Aspartame (E951)
    Cyclamic acid and its Na and Ca salts (E952)
    Saccharin and its Na, K and Ca salts (E954)
    Sucralose (E955)
    Thaumatin (E957 – never heard of this either!)
    Neohesperidine DC (E959 – this is a new one on me, too!)

    They’re all banned from baby products (though sugar is not) but they are NOT banned from squashes, cordials and other soft drinks (the ‘sugar free’ versions are usually sweetened with E951 and/or E950 or, occasionally E955 and/or E950.

    I believe that it’s licensed for herbal/medicinal use, but NOT as a commercial sweetener (though don’t quote me on that…)

    In fact, by purchasing it from iHerb, and importing it into the UK (even though it’s for my own personal use, not for resale) I am breaking the law, as it is ILLEGAL (or was back in 2009) so I’m leaving myself open to prosecution and a fine of up to £5,000.

    Yet we know that E951 and E954 are potentially carcinogenic!

    Ridiculous isn’t it…?!

    I LOVE flavoured Stevita because I believe it has the truest flavour (don’t like SweetLeaf, NOW, or NuNaturals – the latter just tastes too artificial and is very high in alcohol. NOW is just too thick and syrupy).

    Thing is Stevita seem to be discontinuing all their liquid stevia and just continuing with the powdered form (or iHerb just isn’t carrying them anymore – and I don’t know where else to buy them). Had an email the other day that they were no longer carrying orange or strawberry.

    Wish someone would do a raspberry (Sweetleaf berry is the nearest – and it’s gross! So’s the chocolate raspberry).

    Sarah wrote on February 8th, 2011
  19. Thanks Mark, awesome post :)
    I use a powder that states to have 100% pure certified organic steviol glycosides. I have a small amount in my organic plunger coffee each morning, in the occasional organic raw cocoa, and a small amount in my whey protein isolate shake about twice a week. I never use it in baking or cooking. I also use the dried leaves if I drink a herbal tea. I just add a few dried stevia leaves to the herbal tea and let them brew.

    Kitty wrote on February 8th, 2011
  20. I use Stevia in my tea daily. Hot and cold. I found that adding lemon to cold tea with Stevia eliminates the bitterness. I don’t like coffee, but my sister says she can’t get used to it in coffee, even though she does like it in iced tea.

    We canned jelly this year using it too. Our experience was that using just a little bit of honey sort of “turned” the Stevia taste from bitter to sweet. So if nothing else, it dramatically cuts the amount of honey needed. I have found this same thing when sweetening other things. (Chocomole, for instance, which is a current favorite!)

    Apparently everyone has different tastes for what tastes the best, because favorites mentioned by others are NOT my favorites. I have not found a single powdered one that I do like. I keep the Now brand in my purse because it doesn’t go bad as fast. Other brands tend to get more bitter as I get to the bottom of the bottle.

    I have read articles claiming it is good for cavity prevention. Since began using it a year and a half ago, no one in the family has gotten anymore cavities. However, we stopped eating grain at the same time that we started using Stevia, so it could be either – or maybe both?

    Lastly, I had a major candida overgrown to the point of total system shutdown which prompted my change to a primal lifestyle. Even fruit was off the menu for a while. Stevia was the only way to get a sweet fix. A “sweet” tea satisfied me – it didn’t increase my need for sweet. Actually, it was quite the opposite. This article helped make sense of why that might be.

    I would love to grow some, but I hear it’s hard to start from a seed. Can anyone share their experience? I haven’t found any started plants in my area.

    By the way, I think I read that Truvia is owned by Coke. That makes me wary.

    Nicole wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • Nicole, not that it really matters, but the table top version of Truvia is not owned by Coke, but by Cargill (an agro-giant company). It was however developed through a JV of the two companies. Coke has the beverage rights.

      Devin wrote on February 8th, 2011
  21. I used to use sugar or artificial sweetener in my tea, I now use sweet leaf clear liquid stevia, and I love it! I tried a couple other brands, and ended up giving them away. I have my green tea with stevia every morning, and I was holding my breath while reading this hoping it wasn’t something bad! I have got to get your book. It all looks so interesting.

    Brenda wrote on February 8th, 2011
  22. Hi folks! I have used Stevia as a sweetener and in baking for many years and here are some tips!-

    BEST STEVIA BRAND- I have tried them all! By far the best, non-bitter and low carb stevia is NuNaturals NuStevia NoCarb blend- you can get this powder in bulk in packets and bottles on Amazon.com or at iHerb.com.

    BEST WAY TO USE STEVIA IN BAKING – when the recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use 1/2 tsp. NuStevia NoCarb and 1/2 -3/4 cup granulated erythritol. Works great with nut flour recipes to keep them very low carb!

    BEST USE OF STEVIA – ZEVIA all-natural soft drinks- These are fabulous and really help if you have a sweet tooth!

    Best regards,

    Lee Ann

    Lee Ann wrote on February 8th, 2011
  23. I’ve been growing my own for about 2 years in a container garden. I ordered the plant from some random seed catalog after learning about it in Nutrition. It’s great to use in place of sugar in Mint Juleps, just grind it out with the mint in the mortar and pestle. Not Primal I know, but maybe not as bad as table sugar?

    huntergirlhayden wrote on February 8th, 2011
  24. Thank you so much for this post; I was just wondering about stevia today when I added 2 drops of extract to my coffee! Your website has been a terrific resource for this newbie/stumbler!

    Michelle wrote on February 8th, 2011
  25. I started to add stevia to my smoothies a few months back to make them sweeter. Its amazing how just a drop or 2 makes a HUGE difference! The stuff is damn powerful and real cheap too.

    I have yet to use it in anything but my smoothies but will have to try it in other things soon when I want just a little more sweetness. It sounds like it would be great in hot tea!

    Primal Toad wrote on February 8th, 2011
  26. I have grown the stuff in my garden as an experiment one year. I was working on making a tea (boil stevia in water) and freezing in small portions to use later (tried ice cubes – too large). I didn’t get my process perfected, as I used it all up beforehand. But it worked well overall and was so easy to grow I thought it must be a weed. Heck, it might even be growing there still as that part of garden went wild later!

    kelly wrote on February 8th, 2011
  27. MARK!!!

    WE LOVE YOUR SITE!!!

    KEEP ALL YOUR GOODNESS COMING OUR WAY!!!

    So needed to read this so I could prove my friend wrong that thinks stevia is like aspartame

    Natalie wrote on February 8th, 2011
  28. I am a stevia grower. It is easy to grow and most people that come to our garden center have never heard of it. I let everyone taste a leaf though and they are amazed at its sweetness. I use it in my iced tea too.

    Annie wrote on February 8th, 2011
  29. I love powdered stevia. In fact, I know that I abuse the stuff. So much so that I would like to know how many calories it has. I realize it is very, very low in calories, but still, nothing can actually be zero calories, no? Thanks MDA readers and Mark! I really want to hear about this. Ditto with other spices/seasonings if applicable.

    PSA: One of my favorite salad dressings is mustard+stevia+garlic+pepper. Delish.

    J wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • Yes, something can have zero calories. The definition of a ‘calorie’ (in the physics sense) is thus

      ‘The amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1cc of water, at standard atmospheric pressure, by 1C’

      Now I’m no scientist, so I don’t know what the process is for determining the calorific values of foodstuffs, but I’ve always imagined that it’s something akin to the experiment we all did in high school – sticking a peanut in a Bunsen burner flame (only rather more high-tech, with lots and lots and lots of big machines and stuff)

      If something fails to register a value on the calorimeter, then it can be said to have a zero calorie value.

      Technically (well to me at least) herbs and spices are condiments (i.e. not foods, but food enhancers) so the other reason, I suppose, they can be ignored is that we simply don’t consume them in vast enough quantities. I buy spices in 1lb bags and they last AGES (though I get through more cinnamon than anything, as I’m slightly insulin insensitive).

      Does that answer you query, at least in part…? I’m sure there’s plenty more research out there if you Google for it…

      Sarah wrote on February 9th, 2011
  30. So happy to finally have the Mark stamp of approval. Hooray!

    Anya wrote on February 8th, 2011
  31. I love sweet and have been finding ways to like Stevia. I used to use lots of Splenda but have cut that way down. Sugar alcohols give me major stomach cramps and GI distress.

    Stevia pairs well with certain things but not so well with others (in my opinion). For instance, it works very well with pumpkin, chocolate, and citrus. It doesn’t work well with coffee – too bitter for me. Maybe someone has a recommendation. I can sometimes tolerate it as a tiny whiff in the coffee without grossing out from bitterness.

    The one thing I haven’t gotten perfect is subbing it into baked goods. Any tips from peeps?

    Dawn wrote on February 8th, 2011
  32. Tried to like Stevia. Can’t tolerate the bitterness or the aftertaste.

    Jolie wrote on February 8th, 2011
  33. Great post Mark!

    Stevia sounds like a more sensible choice than splenda or aspartame, but to me it makes more sense to do without. If I want something sweet, I have no problem using plain old sugar for occasional indulgences.

    It was hard to give up sugar in my coffee, but now that I have, it’s not a problem at all! It’s quite amazing what you can get used to if you work at it…

    Robert J. Stone

    Rob wrote on February 8th, 2011
  34. NuNaturals is a good brand to try, I have the pure white powder form and the liquid one as well.

    LowCarbPrincess wrote on February 8th, 2011
    • Seems that I’m the only one who can’t stand NuNaturals!

      I guess that makes ME the weirdo, then, right…?

      Sarah wrote on February 9th, 2011
  35. I find it more than absurd to consider artificial sweetener´s on a primal site.

    google Coconut blossem sugar or gula java blocks!

    there is an online seller called noble house.

    I have no affiliation whatsoever, just passing on info to avoid anything artificial.

    It has a GI 35, and is packed with antioxidants and it is ALL NATURAL:

    drpierredebs wrote on February 9th, 2011
    • I think that’s a lie and that you’re spamming. How is stevia in any way artificial when it’s produced – directly – from the leaf of a PLANT…?!

      Begone, SPAMMER!!!

      Sarah wrote on February 9th, 2011
      • sorry, i never bothered to read about stevia and did not know it was from a plant. my fault.

        I assure you I am not a spammer, so begone yourself.

        drpierredebs wrote on February 11th, 2011
      • in addition, what I wrote about Gula Java Blocks, is not a lie.

        drpierredebs wrote on February 11th, 2011
  36. If I want to eat something sweet, I eat blueberries or strawberries. There is no need for sweeteners.

    balabushka wrote on February 9th, 2011
    • I concur, but most berries don´t taste so good in a cup of coffee. I only use Gula Java Blocks in my coffee.
      Otherwise, I am sugar free.

      drpierredebs wrote on February 9th, 2011
      • If I would not like black coffee, I’d not drink it.

        balabushka wrote on February 9th, 2011
  37. Thank you once again Mark for providing another very informative article with plenty of studies (which are always the best kind of articles).

    Unfortunately, stevia is banned within the European Union. I’ll have to look for it the next time I fly to the States.

    Brian Kozmo wrote on February 9th, 2011
    • Well I live in France and I found some liquid Stevia in my local health food shop last week so the law in the European Union must have changed. It’s a French make : Guayapi. I bought some… but I haven’t tried it yet!

      sarahfrance wrote on February 9th, 2011
      • ‘French’ Sarah: – The French government approved stevia for use as a sweetener, on a 2-year trial basis, in September 2009 (so, therefore, it will be reviewed this September – but hopefully, by then, it will have received universal ESFA-approval)

        The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was due to publish a report in March last year announcing their approval for stevia for use as a mainstream food sweetener but, to the best of my knowledge, no such report has been published and the status of the herb is, to date, unclear.

        A recommended daily intake (RDI) has been established, of 4mg per kg of bodyweight (though I don’t know why this is necessary as, AFAIK, there is no known danger of stevia poisoning).

        There’s an article here written in April last year, which sounds very hopeful…

        Just to clear something up: – it is only illegal to be sold as a SWEETENER; it is perfectly LEGAL to be sold as a herbal remedy, a natural medication or for cosmetic use and some EU members are circumventing the current ruling by labelling it as such (I know it’s sold under such labels in Germany, for example).

        Whether this will pave the way for flavoured liquid, I don’t know (I hope so, because that’s all I buy!). If not I’ll still have to continue importing it from the US (and incur hefty Customs and VAT charges!)

        Sarah wrote on February 9th, 2011
  38. As well a decades of use in Japan, the Stevia plant has been used for at least hundreds, and probably thousands of years by various tribes of Paraguyan natives (notably the Guarani).

    The extraction process is quite mild if the mixed glucosides are wanted–just a simple water extraction of powdered leaf. Ethanol extration is used to separate the various forms of glycoside.

    Of course, thousands of years doesn’t make it part of our evolutionary heritage. But that goes for any plant fro mthe New World. Myself, I like it and use it without hesitation.

    David I wrote on February 9th, 2011
  39. Stevia? Huh?

    Samantha Moore wrote on February 9th, 2011
    • How does this comment add anything of note to the discussion…? Is there something you don’t understand, something we can clarify for you…?

      Sarah wrote on February 9th, 2011
  40. It’s processed (unless you’re just using the leaf itself), so I don’t use it. My goal is to keep sweets rare, and on the rare occasion I have them, I’ll use honey or maple or sucanat, all whole, real foods. If I had stevia leaf (fresh or dried), I’d use it.

    If it were just leaf, it would be more comparable to cinnamon or turmeric. But a white powder or clear liquid aren’t something that meets my qualifications for regular consumption (could be made in my kitchen with normal, simple kitchen tools).

    MamaGrok wrote on February 9th, 2011

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