Just did a webinar on eating vegan raw and stevia came up. The stuff you buy in the store that is a white powdered stevia is not stevia in its natural form. The liquid extract is probably as close to the real thing that you will get in the grocery store. The natural stevia is a leaf. It is dehydrated and ground into a powder and the powder is green. A 4oz bag can last you years as you only need like 1/8 of a teaspoon. Many stores sell the plant as well. It is more of a summer time/warm climate plant so I will be planting some in summer. I will dehydrate the leaves and then grind them up into powder.
I am no longer using the white powder I bought from the stores.
I stay away from agave. Too much I have found in research that this is not good and is highly processed.
We use artifical sweetners, though we have cut back. I have a Type 1 Diabetic daughter and it helps us regulate her blood sugars. That's really what it was designed for. I often use it in combination with sugar in cooking as I can still get the sweet but not as much as I would if I used full on sugar.
It works for us and I guess for me that's the best test.
I am very leary of trying any of these manufactured sweeteners. I stick with real sugar and leave it at that, just in moderation. Sugar is not evil. Just like everything else, if you don't overdo it you should be fine.
"But since Stevia is natural, it should be okay, right?"
Arsenic is natural. Marijuana is natural. Viper venom is natural.
While your thought on that is clearly flawed, when it comes to this particular product, it does appear to be harmless. Nobody's conducted 20 year studies yet (AFAIK), so if you want long-term results you'll have to wait, but it is a non-harmful substance itself, and since it is a natural product no artificial preservatives are added, so yes it's most likely fine for you.
As for other artificial sweeteners - while there is a LOT of scarelore and fear mongering out there, there is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever that any of them are harmful in the doses in which we take them.
The 'safe daily limit' of what's in Diet Coke equates to about 6 litres a day. So if you're having 2 cans a day even, you'd clearly be well under the safe limit and it's perfectly fine, despite some internet scaremongering sites.
I keep hearing about Stevia from a lot of different sources. Some say it's good, some say it's dangerous, and some say the jury is still out. I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners-- I don't like putting that many preservatives into my body, and they tend to upset my stomach. But since Stevia is natural, it should be okay, right?
I mostly use agave nectar and molasses to sweeten things these days, but I'd like to cut the calories if I can.
What has been your experience with Stevia? Has it been good or made you feel gross? Do you think it's safe? Thanks for your input!
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