The Truth About Stevia Extract and Safe Consumption

As an expert in the field of nutrition and food safety, I am often asked about the safety of various food additives and sweeteners. One question that frequently comes up is how much stevia extract is safe to consume per day. With the rise in popularity of this natural sweetener, it's important to understand the facts about its safety and recommended daily intake. First, let's define what we mean by stevia extract. This term refers to all sweeteners derived from the shrub Stevia rebaudiana, which is native to Asia and South America.

While the stevia plant itself has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener, the extract that is commonly found in grocery stores today is highly processed and often combined with other ingredients. The World Health Organization has established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for stevia at 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. This means that a person weighing 150 pounds could safely consume up to 10 packs of stevia per day, which is much more than they would actually need due to its intense sweetness. To put this into perspective, a 150-pound person would need to consume approximately 40 packs of a table stevia sweetener per day for the rest of their life to reach the ADI. The established ADI for steviol glycosides, the compounds responsible for stevia's sweetness, is equivalent to approximately 12 mg of high-purity stevia extracts per kilogram of body weight per day. This amount has been deemed safe for consumption by the FDA, which has reviewed safety tests and determined that high-purity stevia leaf extract is safe for the general population, including pregnant and nursing women and children. But what about the environmental impact of stevia production? One study conducted by a major stevia producer found that the carbon footprint of stevia is significantly lower than that of traditional sweeteners like beet sugar and cane sugar.

In fact, there was an 82% reduction in carbon footprint compared to beet sugar and a 64% reduction compared to cane sugar. This is due to the more sustainable methods used to extract steviol glycosides from the stevia leaf. It's also worth noting that there have been concerns about the potential mutagenic properties of some extracts of stevia. However, these studies were conducted using raw stevia extracts, which differ from the high-purity stevia leaf extract that is approved for use in food and beverages worldwide. The FDA has advised further research on this topic, but has determined that high-purity stevia extract is safe for consumption. Another important consideration is the impact of stevia on blood glucose and insulin levels.

While stevia itself has no independent effect on these levels, it can help lower blood glucose when used to replace sugar, carbohydrates, and calories in foods and beverages. This makes it a great alternative for those looking to reduce their sugar intake without sacrificing sweetness. So, how is high-purity stevia leaf extract made? The process is similar to that of other plant-based ingredients like cane sugar or natural vanilla extract. It begins with harvesting the raw vegetable matter and then goes through a series of steps to purify and extract the sweet compounds from the leaves. In conclusion, as an expert in nutrition and food safety, I can confidently say that high-purity stevia extract is safe for consumption within recommended levels. It's a more sustainable and natural alternative to traditional sweeteners, with a lower environmental impact.

So go ahead and enjoy your favorite foods and beverages sweetened with stevia, knowing that you are making a safe and healthy choice.

Leave Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *