The FDA says it’s protecting us again. It says the leaves of this plant, which many people use as a sweetener every day, are dangerous. The FDA also says the sweetener needs more testing before they could okay its use as a food additive. But, as usual, the American public is way ahead of the FDA.
The plant the FDA said was unsafe is stevia. They ruled that manufacturers can’t use stevia in foods because it could be dangerous to blood sugar levels and cause reproductive problems. But this responsible government agency wasn’t able to back up this ruling with any scientific studies. So they said individuals can use it as a dietary supplement, and many people bought the sweet powder to add to their foods and drinks. And there haven’t been any incidents.
Now the FDA has ruled that big beverage companies can use stevia in their drinks as long as they use only a few of its active sweetening ingredients, such as rebaudioside A. But they can’t use the whole plant. What’s so special about rebaudioside A and other compounds in stevia over the whole plant? The answer is simple — the companies can patent them.
As a result, you can now expect to see a patented form of stevia in Coke and Pepsi. The problem is, as I’ve told you many times before, when you use the whole plant you get chemicals that work together. And people have used stevia for hundreds of years — safely.
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Until now, no one has used rebaudioside A by itself or as one of several ingredients. It may or may not be safe. We won’t know until or unless it’s tested. So far, the FDA hasn’t said this is necessary.
Bottom line: stick to stevia over any of its compounds or extracts. If there are problems with stevia, I predict we’ll see them in the patented formulas, not in the whole plant.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand