In my last blog post 10 pounds in 4 days, a reader wrote in and mentioned she used stevia to make the salt water flush we use on the Master Cleanse easier to go down. I wanted to share more about stevia because it’s a rather interesting natural product that most people don’t know about because of a controversial move by the FDA banning stevia from being labeled and sold as a sweetener.
I would like you to voice your opinion about whether you think this is fair, but first let’s talk about the benefits of stevia.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, and is 300 times sweeter then sugar. What’s even more exciting is that stevia has zero calories, and research shows that it’s safe for diabetics (there’s some conflicting opinions on this as I’ll describe below)
Here’s where things get strange. If you’re thinking of picking up some stevia you won’t find it next to the sugar and other artificial sweeteners in your local grocery store because the FDA will not allow stevia to be labeled as a sweetener of any kind.
Stevia has to be labeled as a nutritional supplement which means you’ll have to go to a specialty health food store, or order it online because most grocery stores won’t carry it.
Dangers of Stevia – What Are Stevia’s Side Effects?
The FDA says it’s not safe. Those on the side of stevia say it’s a political move by the sugar and artificial sweetener camps to keep stevia from moving in on their business.
Here’s some information I dug up:
“A 1985 study reported that steviol, a breakdown product from stevioside and rebaudioside (two of the sweet steviol glycosides in the stevia leaf) is a mutagen in the presence of a liver extract of pre-treated rats but this finding has been criticized on procedural grounds that the data were mishandled in such a way that even distilled water would appear mutagenic. More recent animal tests have shown mixed results in terms of toxicology and adverse effects of stevia extract, with some tests finding steviol to be a weak mutagen while newer studies find no safety issues.”
Is stevia safe for someone with diabetes? That same wikipedia page had this to say about stevia and diabetes
“Other studies have shown stevia improves insulin sensitivity in rats and may even promote additional insulin production, helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Preliminary human studies show stevia can help reduce hypertension although another study has shown it has no effect on hypertension. Despite these more recent studies establishing the safety of stevia, government agencies have expressed concerns over toxicity, citing a lack of sufficient conclusive research.”
This is what www.stevia.com had to say about using stevia if you’re diabetic…
“Stevia can be a part of a healthy diet for anyone with blood sugar problems since it does not raise blood sugar levels. If in doubt, ask your doctor. However, if they do say no, ask them politely for the current research to support their opinion.”
It sounds to me like stevia is perfectly safe, but like many natural products that can’t be patented and sold as drugs the makers of stevia don’t have the cash to pay off the right people in Washington. But that’s just my opinion.
If you’re not sold on the FDA’s view of stevia and would like a second opinion consider this,Â stevia has been approved in Brazil, Japan, and China. It’s also being looked at for use in future Coca-Cola products.
If you’re ready to go ahead and try stevia you might have a hard time tracking it down. You’re mot going to find it in most grocery stores. It’s best to look for stevia in health food stores or order it online.
Stevia recipes and cooking with stevia
Cooking with stevia can be tricky. In it’s pure form it’s much sweeter then sugar, but most of the time you won’t be using pure stevia. This chart found here shows you how much stevia you’ll need to equal the same amount of sugar. It will show you the amounts for granulated stevia, liquid stevia extract, and pure stevia.
www.steviva.com/recipes has a list of some recipes you can try out for your self. Your first few dishes made with stevia might come out tasting funny as you get used to calculating the proper amounts to use. After a while you’ll get the hang of it and have no problems converting old recipes that used sugar over to stevia.
Do You Think The FDA Should Allow Stevia To Be Sold As A Sweetener In The United States Of America?Â
I would like to hear your thoughts. I’m not a bombastic type person who’s locked in to an iron clad belief system, but I think stevia could help society. Let’s face it, American’s aren’t going to give up sweets any time soon, and if stevia can do the same job as sugar without the calories I think our government is obligated to allow Americans the option of choosing stevia by placing it next to sugar on the grocery store shelf.
Please leave your comments below…