It's also quite possible that artificial sweeteners may be safe in low
amounts, but problems could arise when they are used in excessive quantities.
By partially or mostly substituting stevia, you can reduce any potential
It would seem quite obvious that substituting a no-calorie sweetener to sugar
would help reduce caloric intake and thus contribute to weight loss. And such
is the case with aspartame. Researchers at the Center for the Study of
Nutrition Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, at Harvard Medical
School in Boston, Massachusetts, studied the influence of aspartame on
obesity (Blackburn, 1997). One hundred sixty-three women were randomly
assigned to consume or to abstain from aspartame-sweetened foods and
beverages for 16 weeks. Both groups were also actively involved in a
weight-control program using a variety of modalities. At the end of the 16
weeks, both the group on aspartame and the group without the synthetic
sweetener lost 10 kilograms. During the maintenance phase that lasted the
next two years, women assigned to the aspartame-treatment group gained back
4.5 kilogram, whereas those not on aspartame gained back 9.4 kilograms,
practically all the weight they had previously lost. The researchers state,
"These data suggest that participation in a multidisciplinary weight-control
program that includes aspartame may facilitate the long-term maintenance of
reduced body weight."
Unfortunately, no formal studies have been done evaluating stevia
substitution in relation to weight loss. We would suspect, though, that the
results would be similar to the aspartame study discussed above. If you are
the type of person who adds sugar to your morning coffee or tea, or to iced
tea, lemonade, and a variety of desserts and baked goods, then, over time,
the elimination of these refined sugar calories could make a significant
Sweet Teeth with No Cavities
Even a five-year old child knows that sugar causes tooth cavities. There are
certain bacteria in our mouths, particularly streptococci mutans, that
ferment various sugars to produce acids. These in turn eat through the enamel
of the tooth causing pockets or cavities. For a long time, scientists have
searched to find alternative sweeteners that are not fermentable by bacteria
and hence do not cause cavities. Artificial sweeteners have been helpful in
Does ingesting stevia lead to tooth cavities? A study done on rats has
not shown this to be case. Stevioside and rebaudioside A, the two primary
sweet constituents of the stevia plant, were tested in a group of sixty rat
pups (Das, 1992) in the following way:
Group 1 was fed sucrose (table sugar), at 30 percent of their diet
Group 2 was given 0.5 percent of their diet in stevioside
Group 3 got 0.5 percent of their diet in rebaudioside A
Group 4 ingested no sugars.
After 5 weeks, all four groups had their teeth evaluated. There were no
differences in food and water intake and weight gain between the four groups.
However, the first group had significantly more cavities than the rest of the
groups. Groups 2, 3, and 4 were equivalent.
The researchers state, "It was concluded that neither stevioside nor
rebaudioside A is cariogenic [cavity causing] under the conditions of this
study." It appears that the chemicals within the stevia plant that impart its
sweetness are not fermentable, and thus do not cause tooth cavities.