Stevia: Friend or foe?Los Angeles Post-Examiner

Stevia: Friend or foe?

We all know that to live a better, longer and healthier life we need to establish and then maintain a proper weight for our age, height and gender. But we also know that sweet taste is awesome. Candy, cupcakes, pies, soft drinks – all delicious – all sweet – all absolutely horrible for our well-being so what to do? We invent sugar substitutes such as saccharin and aspartame. The problem is that those artificial sweeteners bring even more serious health issues including a cancer scare now largely disproven and even evidence that they actually can cause weight gain. We love appeasing our sweet taste buds but no matter what we do it is going to find a way to take us down. Damn!

Moises Santiago Bertoni

Moises Santiago Bertoni

Then way back in 1899 Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bertoni was walking around the jungles of Paraguay when he happened to find a plant that tasted real sweet but wasn’t sugar. By 1931 two French chemists isolated the glycosides that give this exotic plant its sweet taste. Finally by 1955 the exact structure of the aglycone and of the glycoside were published in a scientific journal and thus began the first steps in bringing the non-artificial and non-sugar sweetener Stevia into the commercial world.

The first commercial Stevia sweetener came to market in Japan in 1971. Today the Japanese consume more Stevia than any other people on earth. Stevia bumped into a problem with the FDA, which banned its use in 1991. But after further investigation the FDA approved its use as a food additive in 2008. Since then the popularity of Stevia has exploded. But is it friend or is it foe?

Do understand that it begins as all natural as a plant but by the time it gets to your store’s shelf it most likely has been “enhanced” with one or more additives. The two most common are erythritol, a sugar alcohol or dextrose a starch derived glycose typically extracted from corn, wheat or rice. The good news is that you may use Stevia in baking but it does not caramelize so there goes your crème brulée. Also there has been some recent research that suggested that possibly Stevia use may actually increase weight, but it as of now is far from determinative and is much more applicable to artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame.

Steviol, the basic building block of stevia's sweet glycosides

Steviol, the basic building block of stevia’s sweet glycosides

So what does this all add up to? From everything I have been able to find in my research as of now Stevia, a zero calorie sweetener, does seem to be an absolutely wonderful sugar substitute. Not all brands are the same, so do read the labels as always and buy only the most natural of if you must be “organic.” It will make those strawberries absolutely fantastic and your cup of coffee pure delight. But, Stevia will not all by itself help you to shed pounds if that is your goal. Doing that still requires a full dietary modification along with some good exercise. At least with Stevia you can now have a sweet time doing it.

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Walk Your Way to Better Health

Join us for the Hollywood Health Hike. Together we can feel great and begin to win the war on obesity and ill health. It happens for the third year in a row on April 30th 2017 and will take us from Burbank, California through Hollywood and Beverly Hills to Santa Monica. It costs NOTHING [except for whatever food and beverage you buy] but for details please let me know of your interest by sending an email to helloroniriwn@gmail.com.

Lose-Live-CoverWalk for health and also for joy and then share your walking experience to inspire others. Please write and email your favorite walking experience to me at: helloronirwin@gmail.com. Where did you walk, what did you see, how long was your walk and anything else you want to reveal. Please include a few photos with your email. Submissions will be accepted now though November 10, 2016 and the winner will receive a free copy of Lose Live the ultimate guide to good health and weight loss. Your story will also appear in this publication.

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Copyright © 2016 Ron Irwin

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Top photo by Tim Forkes, all other photos by Ron Irwin unless otherwise noted

 


About the author

Ron Irwin

Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author. Contact the author.
COMMENT POLICY
  • Sweetie

    Absolutely wonderful at being a mutagen.

    Sure, why not mess up your DNA? We’ll ignore the fact that they didn’t do adequate testing before granting GRAS status. You know, true lifetime testing in both mice and rats, not just one or the other. And, true lifetime testing not abbreviated testing.

    Steviol is a mutagen. Guess what the body converts stevia extracts into when it metabolizes them. Uh… steviol.

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