Stevia’s safety is clearly supported by extensive scientific studies. In fact, clinical studies show that steviol glycosides have no effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose response, indicating stevia sweeteners are safe for use by all individuals including those with diabetes.
Stevia has been assessed in both short term and long term safety studies, including human clinical studies. The international Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has conducted a thorough scientific review of all of the existing scientific data on steviol glycosides and concluded that they are safe for use in food and beverages.
Rebaudioside A and stevioside are the most abundant steviol glycosides in the plant and usually comprise the majority of the steviol glycosides in the sweetener preparations, either combined or individually. Other steviol glycosides that can be present in high levels include steviolbioside, rebaudioside B, C, D, E, F, dulcoside A and rubusoside. The specific steviol glycoside composition depends upon the composition of the harvested leaves, which, in turn, are influenced by soil, climate, and the manufacturing process.
The sweetness of the steviol glycosides varies, ranging from 50 to 350 times as sweet as sucrose. For example, rebaudioside A and stevioside are approximately 250 and 125 times as sweet as sucrose. However, the sweetness of the steviol glycosides preparation will vary, depending on the composition of the steviol glycosides in the preparation.
Based on studies conducted in the past several years, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has concluded that stevia glycosides are metabolized by a common pathway. This begins in the gut where the steviol glycosides are broken down to steviol. Steviol is excreted in the urine as steviol glucuronide. The metabolized components of steviol glycosides essentially leave the body and there is no accumulation which is the normal way the body excretes compounds. Thus, the metabolized components of steviol glycosides essentially fully leave the body and there is no bio-accumulation.
Third Party Expert Reviews of Stevia:
Stevia is permitted in over 135 countries around the world. Some recent expert reviews include:
- European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
- Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
- Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ)
- French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety (AFFSA)
- US FDA