Stevia is a sweet herb that is gaining popularity around the world as a natural and healthy alternative to sugar. It comes from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant, and it is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar while having no calories. This makes it an ideal substitute for table sugar in many recipes. However, this plant has had a bumpy ride when it comes to being approved for use as a food additive. This article will examine why is stevia banned and uncover the truth behind this controversy.
Stevia was first documented in 1899 by botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni, who described it as a plant native to Latin America. Its name means "sweet herb" in the Guarani language, and it was used as a sweetener and medicinal herb by the indigenous people of the region. Stevia was also used as a diabetes medicine before the disease existed, as it helped regulate blood sugar.
In 1991, the US FDA banned stevia due to early studies that suggested it may cause cancer. However, those findings have since been refuted, and stevia has not been found to be carcinogenic in humans. Additionally, the sugar industry lobbied against stevia's approval in order to protect their market share, and this delayed stevia's acceptance by the FDA.
Today, the FDA has classified high-purity extracts of stevia as safe for human consumption. Products that contain these stevia glycosides will include words like stevioside or stevia rebaudiana in their ingredient list, and you can find them in most health food stores. You should avoid buying whole stevia leaves or crude stevia extracts, as these have not undergone the necessary purification process.