By Charlie G ❘ 2007

This time I would like to talk about the potential substitute for artificial sweeteners: Stevia.

Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni is a plant native to Paraguay, but it can grow in a variety of climates. The sweetener extracted from it is 300 times sweeter than sugar, but since it’s not metabolized, it doesn’t transform into calories in the body.

Stevia can be used in several ways: as a tea (with plant leaves), liquid or pouder, each with different properties and tastes.

steviaBefore being brought to Europe in the nineteenth century by Dr. Bertoni, the plant was commonly known and had been used for centuries by the Guarani Indians (they call it “Kaá-heé” which means “sweet herb”). This plant has excellent properties as sweetener and apparently even medicinal properties as well (for centuries stevia has been used in Paraguay and Brazil for the treatment of diabetes), although the official studies on possible contraindications aren’t concluded yet.

And my first question is this: why after more than 100 years in Europe and with the experience and results in South America for several centuries, they do not finish the tests in order to give evidence whether it is suitable or not for human consumption? Could it be that there are interests delaying the process in order to continue cashing in on the huge profits they are getting with sugar and artificial sweeteners?

Studies by the Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that stevioside (Stevia active principle) acts directly by stimulating pancreatic beta cells generating a considerable secretion of insulin, reducing glucose levels in blood up to 35%.

There have also been studies with positive findings about stevioside to low blood pressure, found after three months where hypertensive patients were treated with the stevia.

“Several studies suggest that Stevia and stevioside are non-toxic in controlled laboratory experiments geared toward short-term consequences of ingesting large amounts of Stevia and to long-term consequences of ingestion of moderate amounts of Stevia.

However, the food and drug agencies in different countries (FDA-USA, SCF-EU, JECFA-FAO/WHO) have warned that similar studies are not yet conclusive regarding the effects of human consumption, therefore is not allowed to commercialize stevia for human consumption in most countries (except Japan, Paraguay, Brazil, China, Malaysia, United States -but only as a dietary supplement-, and Israel. In the European Union due to the restriction of marketing as a sweetener additive or supplement, the demand is restricted to extracts as cosmetic.
In this regard the SCF on the Stevia report said that Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni has no inherently toxic components, however there isn’t laboratory evidence of the lack of them…”

Hmm, this really leaves me open-mouthed! They haven’t found anything toxic (in fact it has been demonstrated its positive effect on various diseases) but they do not allow their marketing because there is no evidence of toxic? With that excuse the process may last hundreds years!

A famous phrase comes to my mind, that used to be said in lawyer movies, who said that “one is considered innocent until proven guilty.” Well, it seems that in the case of Stevia is just the opposite: they condemn as guilty (to not be sold) until proven otherwise (which itself has already been shown).

And what about synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame which has been proven to cause adverse effects and toxicity in the body? Why is Aspartame allowed to be sold and marketed (and actually used in so many different foods and drinks? Everyone should draw his/her own conclusions.

Check out my “Diabetes control” page to know where to buy stevia.


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2 Comments on Stevia vs aspartame (part 2)

  1. […] don’t like the taste of the tea without sugar or milk, you can always add a little yacon or stevia (natural and healthy […]

  2. […] Si prefieres leer este artículo en inglés, este es el enlace: Stevia vs aspartame (part 2) […]