Is Stevia Good for You?

Is Stevia Good for You?
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How much of this natural sweetener can be considered safe?

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The jury is finally in on stevia.  The reason it’s been such a long time coming is that research out of Japan in the 90s found that steviosides, the active ingredient in stevia, appeared totally harmless.

But, in the guts of rats, intestinal bacteria transformed steviosides into something called steviol—which is toxic, causing a big spike in mutagenic DNA damage.

So, the question was: do we have those same rat bacteria in our guts? And, it turns out we do. So, we know that when we eat stevia, mutagenic compounds are produced in our colons and absorbed into our bloodstream. The only remaining question was, how much?

The World Health Organization just released their latest evaluation of food additives, and they consider up to 4 mg/kg of body weight, safe. So, that’s 1.8 mg per pound.  So if you multiply your weight in pounds times 1.8, that’s how many milligrams of stevia compounds you should stay under.

The problem is the American sweet tooth. We’re supposed to stay under 4, but if we sweetened everything with stevia, we could exceed that safety limit, at least in the United States. But, as long as you drink only two stevia-sweetened beverages a day, it can be considered harmless.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to carlo_mastrogiacomo via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The jury is finally in on stevia.  The reason it’s been such a long time coming is that research out of Japan in the 90s found that steviosides, the active ingredient in stevia, appeared totally harmless.

But, in the guts of rats, intestinal bacteria transformed steviosides into something called steviol—which is toxic, causing a big spike in mutagenic DNA damage.

So, the question was: do we have those same rat bacteria in our guts? And, it turns out we do. So, we know that when we eat stevia, mutagenic compounds are produced in our colons and absorbed into our bloodstream. The only remaining question was, how much?

The World Health Organization just released their latest evaluation of food additives, and they consider up to 4 mg/kg of body weight, safe. So, that’s 1.8 mg per pound.  So if you multiply your weight in pounds times 1.8, that’s how many milligrams of stevia compounds you should stay under.

The problem is the American sweet tooth. We’re supposed to stay under 4, but if we sweetened everything with stevia, we could exceed that safety limit, at least in the United States. But, as long as you drink only two stevia-sweetened beverages a day, it can be considered harmless.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image thanks to carlo_mastrogiacomo via flickr

Doctor's Note

For more on alternative sweeteners, check out these videos:
Erythritol May Be a Sweet Antioxidant
Aspartame-Induced Fibromyalgia
Aspartame and the Brain
Neurobiology of Artificial Sweeteners
How Diet Soda Could Make Us Gain Weight

And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?) – listed below the post.

Also, check out my associated blog posts: Vitamin B12: how much, how often?Kiwi Fruit for Irritable Bowel SyndromeIs Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?Soy milk: shake it up!; and Is There a Safe, Low-Calorie Sweetener?

For all our videos on the latest research on stevia, visit our Stevia topic page.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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