Monday, June 25, 2007

More on satisfying our sweet tooth safely

As one commenter pointed out in a previous post, stevia has not been approved by the FDA as a sweetener and its safety not established by them. Normally, I would agree that this might give me pause, but my own research shows that stevia has a history of use thousands of years old. You may not be able to drink a gallon of it a day ;-), but used in moderation and given its safety profile historically (if not on the FDA’s radar), I would wager that it’s as safe to use as sugar, especially given the health benefits reducing your intake of sugar can bring. Fructose too can be a good substitute as the commenter pointed out, and so can other natural unrefined sweeteners like turbinado sugar and molasses.

To be honest, I used saccharine (sparingly) in beverages if they needed sweetening with limited use of sugar for cooking and baking until I found stevia, with a brief dabble in fructose (not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup); Nutrasweet gave me headaches, so I never used aspartame in any quantity. I would probably still be using saccharine in my tea if I hadn’t disliked the aftertaste so much, and stevia fills the bill insofar as it tastes just like sugar to me. Of course, I also like the fact that it’s a natural herb with some history to it and not a chemical with an iffy side effects profile, but for me, it’s always come down to what’s going to be of greatest benefit and least risk. A little sugar is okay, but only used sparingly, again, mostly in baking with just a little for browning purposes or to make bread rise. I pretty much follow the same rule of thumb with stevia; “everything in moderation.” I think where we get ourselves in trouble (Americans especially) is that we attack everything with abandon and no sense of control, so that we eat or drink ourselves into trouble with our liter-sized jugs of soda consumed in one sitting, for example. Nothing is safe in that quantity, IMO, even “natural” sugar.

Of course, there’s another facet to this, too. One of the problems with relying on the government to tell you what’s safe and what’s not is this constant tug of war that goes on in the various studies feeding us this information. One day, coffee’s horrible for you, and the next, it’s not only not horrible for you, but actually good for you in moderation, with an antioxidant profile that rivals that of green tea. So again, it’s a matter of weighing what’s of benefit to you and making careful choices based upon your own needs. It’s the “careful choices” element that’s missing in a lot of the poor nutritional selections we make rather than the specific safety profile of a particular substance like stevia, in my opinion.


  1. Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rodrigo. I can't read (Portugese?) but will post it so that others who can read it can see it. Thanks!


  3. I really like your site. I have had trouble losing the weight recently. It was all so easy at the beginning when the weight was rolling off. But things have slowed down a bit.

    Your site has renewed my courage to struggle on down that happy road of merky weight loss.

    I agree with you on Stivia. I use it too. But if i do too much it has a bitter affect on me.

  4. Thanks, Doug! Slow and easy does it with the weight loss. :-)