Today's Dietitian reviews the science behind this popular no-calorie sweetener.
Sweeteners with few or no calories provide an alternative to sugar's 15 kcal per teaspoon. These "nonnutritive sweeteners" offer sweetness and, as the term suggests, no nutrition. As a result, they're especially popular among clients and patients with diabetes and those trying to lose weight. Despite inconsistent research findings on their effectiveness for either, they're incredibly popular. Saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, and neotame have been available for a while, but stevia is the newest kid on the nonnutritive sweetener block to gain popularity. As a relatively new sweetener, there's little research testing its effectiveness for blood glucose control or weight loss. However, stevia is considered safe and was given GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status in 2008; as such, it doesn't require FDA approval to be used as a food additive.1 In addition, regulatory agencies in more than 65 countries, including the European Union and Canada, have approved stevia for use in foods.2
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