Food For Thought: Is Stevia safe?

Health

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – If you eat low calorie foods, chances are you eat a low calorie sweetener called Stevia. But is it safe?

Stevia is widely used in a variety of “diet,” sugar-free and reduced-sugar foods and beverages. That includes dairy products, cereal, candy, chewing gum, soft drinks, and flavored waters.

Stevia is a leaf of a plant that is 330 times sweeter than sugar. The FDA and other health organizations say the studies done with Stevia show that it is safe, and much safer than other sugar substitutes like aspartame and saccharin.

However, the indigenous people of Paraguay, for example, have used its crushed Stevia leaves for centuries to sweeten their herbal teas and medicines.

We use a much more processed version of the leaf and most often it is added to highly processed foods. You may find it in your cereal, drink it in a soft drink, snack on it in a protein bar, and indulge in it with low calorie ice cream for dessert.

Just because these foods are made with Stevia, does not mean a processed food is a health food.

Use foods with Stevia just once or twice a day to satisfy your sweet tooth and avoid eating it all day long.

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