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  • Is Stevia a Healthier Alternative to Sugar for Sweetening Food?

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    At zero calories and many times sweeter than sugar, Stevia may be the holy grail of healthy sweeteners. The natural substance is actually a compound that comes from the leaves of a South American plant, Stevia rebaudiana. The steviol glycosides that come from these leaves are about 10-15 times sweeter than sugar.

    Stevia leaves and stevia extracts are sold as tabletop sweeteners in natural food stores. They have not, however, been approved for use as food additives in Canada and the United States because animal studies have suggested stevia could cause genetic mutations and male infertility. Health Canada considers the available safety data on these products insufficient.

    A highly purified stevia extract – sold under the brand names Truvia and PureVia – has been deemed safe and given the green light to sweeten foods in Canada and the U.S., including breakfast cereals, salad dressings, chewing gum and beverages. This purified stevia extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar so it takes only a minuscule amount to sweeten foods.

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    In the sense that stevia doesn’t add calories, affect blood sugar or insulin levels, or contribute to dental cavities, I suppose it …

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    Staff Writer

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