What are some common and trade names for stevia sweeteners?
Enliten®, PureVia®, Rebaudioside A/Reb A, Rebaudioside Ba, Rebaudioside C, Rebaudioside D, Rebiana, Splenda® Naturals Stevia Sweeteners, Stevia, Stevia in the Raw®, Steviacane®, Steviol Glycosides, and Stevioside.
What is stevia?
Stevia is a plant of the Chrysanthemum family, the leaves of which have been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. Extracts from the stevia leaf have been available as dietary supplements in the U.S. since the mid-1990′s and many contain a mixture of both sweet and non-sweet components of the stevia leaf.
Although there is no clear definition of “natural,” some consumers prefer ingredients derived from natural sources that undergo minimal processing and that are not altered during production. New products with natural claims such as stevia sweeteners give consumers more products from which to choose.
Are foods labeled “natural” better or more healthful?
Since there is no clear definition or labeling requirement, the primary difference between foods labeled “natural” and foods that do not bear this claim is preference.
Stevia sweeteners can be used as a sugar substitute in beverages and foods such as reduced-calorie soda, juice, desserts, sauces, yogurt, pickled foods, breads and confections.
How many calories do stevia sweeteners contain?
Stevia sweeteners have zero calories. Foods containing stevia-based sweeteners can have zero or minimal calories per serving, depending upon the other food ingredients with which they are combined. For example, stevia sweeteners may be mixed with sugar, which has calories. As a result the finished food will contain some calories.
How are stevia sweeteners helpful in weight control?
As a sugar substitute with zero calories, stevia sweeteners can help reduce or replace calories in foods and beverages and offer low and no calorie alternatives for people looking to lose and control weight. Consuming beverages and foods with stevia sweeteners as part of a healthful diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity, can assist with weight control and weight loss.
Based on studies conducted in the past several years, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has concluded that stevia sweeteners are metabolized by a common pathway. Once consumed, it is broken down in the gut and then rapidly eliminated from the body.
In order for a new food or beverage ingredient to enter the U.S. food supply, the ingredient must either be a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved food additive or be
Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). The quality and quantity of scientific evidence required for a substance to achieve GRAS status are the same as for FDA food additive approval and the majority of the data for the GRAS determination must exist in the public domain. For GRAS, however, there is a general knowledge requirement and acceptance of that knowledge by qualified experts. Publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal is the mechanism normally used to establish that the necessary scientific information is generally available. Click here to learn more.
How has the safety of stevia sweeteners been established?
Numerous studies of stevia sweeteners clearly support the safety of these ingredients. Further, clinical studies show that stevia sweeteners meeting purity criteria established by JECFA have no effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose response, indicating stevia sweeteners are safe for use by persons with diabetes. Click here to learn more.
What is the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for stevia?
The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) defines Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) as “An estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water, expressed on a body-weight basis, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable risk (standard human = 60 kg). The ADI is listed in units of mg [milligram] per kg [kilogram] of body weight.” Consuming more than the ADI does not mean an effect will occur because the ADI includes a wide margin of safety above what is deemed the “No Observed Effect Level.” JECFA has assigned an ADI of four mg/kg bw for steviol glycosides, expressed as steviol. Data shows that even for consumers who consume a high amount of stevia, the ADI would not be exceeded.
How are stevia sweeteners useful for people with diabetes?
Research has shown that stevia sweeteners do not affect blood glucose levels or interfere with insulin. With zero calories, stevia sweeteners offer people with diabetes greater variety and flexibility in budgeting total calorie intake and assisting with weight management.
There are no known allergies to stevia sweeteners.
Can stevia sweeteners be used in cooking and baking?
Stevia sweeteners provide an excellent alternative and sugar substitute when sweetening foods such as cereal, yogurt and fruit. Some stevia recipes allow for cooking and baking with these sweeteners, however appropriate usage levels vary according to the stevia sweetener that is used. For best results, follow the directions outlined by the manufacturer.