Stevia stands apart from other sweeteners. “Natural”, which means “safe”? But life is not so simple.
So, stevia is a kind of grass that grows mainly in warm places – South and Central America. It is believed that the ancient Indians especially welcomed stevia – they put it in tea and treated sick.
Why is stevia sweet?
Due to special molecules called glycosides. The plant synthesizes various glycosides to its advantage. Some glycosides are needed to protect chlorophyll in the leaves from the sun. Some for the course of biochemical processes. And we still do not know some functions of glycosides.
By the way, the famous amygdalin poison, because of which it was forbidden in childhood to eat the seeds of plums and apples, is also a glycoside. In stevia, a glycoside called stevioside is responsible for the sweetness.
Can it be dangerous? There were such concerns. Stevioside has not been recommended as a dietary supplement for a long time. And this is a whole scandalous story.
Smuggling and Recognition
Due to its naturalness, stevia extract was popularly considered safe and sold as a dietary supplement for all diseases. The FDA looked at it anxiously and pressured not to put stevia in food. But nobody cared.
Then the baby stevia was banned from importing into the States, and smuggling appeared in response. Imagine that dill is banned, and the black dill market opens, where it is resold at exorbitant prices.
“So what if stevioside did not pass a safety check? Our grandfathers drank it for centuries. And no one died! That is, everyone died. But not from stevia! Do not forbid us natural products”! – dissatisfied citizens advocated and sprinkled food with stevia, and their heads with ashes.
In 2008, the FDA recognized Stevioside as a safe food supplement. And even the E-code was assigned – E960. Only some manufacturers regularly “forget” to indicate this E-mail. Indeed, the inscription “contains a natural sweetener of stevia” looks much nicer. There you can also stick the icon “without GMO” and “without gluten”.
Is stevia bad for you?
Is stevioside safe? Yes. As well as other permitted artificial sweeteners – aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose, etc.
Is stevioside carcinogenic? Yes. That is, such a high dose and conditions were found under which stevioside can cause cancer. For example, if you drink 150 liters of soda every day. So the sun and hot food are also recognized carcinogens.
Can I use stevioside? Who will forbid you? Yes, a little expensive. Yes, the taste is specific. Therefore, it is often found not in its pure form, but as part of mixtures.
Choose the sweetener to which the soul and taste buds lie. But remember: choosing by the criterion of “natural origin”, you fall into a trap. The natural is not a synonym for the useful, and the artificial is not a synonym for the harmful.
Make your choice consciously, not under the influence of fashion or myths.
P.S. By the way, not the Stevia plant itself was recognized as safe, but the additive E960. These are just some steviol glycosides with a purity of at least 95%. Their list can be found on the FDA website. This does not mean that stevia leaves urgently need to be thrown out and washed twice. But scientifically confirmed data on the safety of whole leaves and untreated extracts are not yet available.
Additionally, see whether the palm oil good for you. Studies about palm oil.
What is more, why not read how calorie cycling fakes out your body.