Stevia comes from the stevia rebaudiana plant which originally grew in Paraguay.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed the import of stevia leaves in 1995.
However the sweeteners made from stevia leaves can only be used as a dietary supplement. There was not enough research to show that stevia is safe to use as an ingredient in "conventional" foods. Stevia also had a bitter aftertaste which did not make it popular among people.
In December 1998, the FDA finally recognized stevia as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) and added it to their list of GRAS food additives. Stevia could now be added to food or beverage products.
Research on stevia
Animal and human studies show that foods and beverages that are made with stevia are safe. Only 95 percent pure steviol glycosides (sweet extracts from the stevia plant) are approved for use in food and beverages.
The Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) reviewed the 2005 research on stevia. JECFA members issued temporary guidelines for how much stevia is safe for consumption.
They called this guideline the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI):
For every kilogram of body weight, a person could safely consume 0 to 2 milligrams of stevia a day over a lifetime without risk.
A 2007 study confirmed JECFA’s recommended ADI indicating that steviol for every kilogram of body weight, people tend consume less that 2 milligrams of per day. A packet of Truvia weighs 3.5 grams. However, Truvia contains not just stevi but also contains rebiana and natural flavors. How much pure stevia content is unclear.
In 2007, the JECFA reviewed additional new research on stevia but made no changes to the guideline. Currently there are several ongoing important clinical studies. We need to continue to monitor stevia’s effects.
Is Stevia Safe During Pregnancy?
As of now we only have animal studies indicating that stevia is safe to be taken during pregnancy. However, animals are not the same as humans, but it’s the best evidence we have. There are several ongoing studies about stevia, and we still do not know what these and other future research will show about this sweetener.
The Bottom Line
Stevia appears to be a safe alternative to sugar. But despite the buzz regarding its safety, but there is still no evidence that it can lower blood sugar.
Source: MSN Health