Stevia: A Safe, Natural Alternative to Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners


As if life weren’t hard enough, those trying to cut back on calories while staying healthy are faced with radically opposing views on artificial sweeteners. Some doctors and scientists warn that three main synthetic ingredients in artificially sweetened food and beverages—aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin—can be toxic.

Two respected health advocates, Drs. Mehmet Oz and Joseph Mercola, advise us to avoid food and beverages made with these synthetics. Mercola argues that three aspartame components—phenylalanin, aspartic acid, and methanol—have toxic breakdown products, which may cause excessive firing of brain neurons and other neurotoxic effects, possibly even cell death. Mercola also maintains that since methanol in aspartame has no natural binder, nearly all of it turns into formaldehyde in the body. Sold as NutraSweet and Equal, aspartame is reportedly consumed by over 200 million people and is in more than 6,000 products. This includes carbonated and powdered soft drinks, chewing gum, yogurts and ice creams, gelatins, dessert mixes, puddings, and more.

Sucrose, whose main element is sucralose, is found in Splenda and other sweeteners. In a recent study, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that when non-diabetic, severely obese participants drank sucralose, their blood sugar rose and their insulin levels increased by nearly 20 percent. The researchers hypothesized that in time this could lead to type 2 diabetes. Also, in June 2013, the Center for Science in the Public Interest placed Splenda in the “caution” category pending a review of an unpublished study that allegedly found that the sweetener caused leukemia in mice.

Saccharin was discovered in 1879 by a Johns Hopkins University scientist working on coal-tar derivatives. A 1977 study found saccharin—popularized as Sweet’N Low—might contribute to cancer in rats and the US Department of Agriculture attempted a ban. It has since been removed from the FDA list of suspected carcinogens.

While the world waits to find out if these three sugar substitutes are in fact hazardous to human health, Mother Nature has something to offer those who want to be both slim and safe: the stevia plant. Taking nature’s gift and running with it is a remarkable, focused, and innovative agricultural biotechnology company, Stevia First Corp. Based in Yuba City, California, Stevia First is aiming at nothing less than transforming the artificial sweetener industry through its improved methods of cultivating, fermenting, and processing the stevia plant—which contains not a speck of aspartame, sucralose, or saccharine. “We are developing stevia products that not only can be considered safe but also taste better,” vows Stevia First CEO, Robert Brooke. 

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