Use in Children
Candies, sodas, ice cream, pies, cakes... it's disturbing how many sweet
products are ingested by children on a daily basis. All that sugar can lead
to tooth cavities and obesity. We believe that partially substituting with
stevia can help children satisfy their sweet tooth while decreasing the risks
from excessive sugar intake.
If you're a parent, you can take advantage of the many recipes provided
in the second half of this book to provide your children with tasty sweets
that will satisfy their sweet teeth but not cause damage to the teeth.
Obesity in children is a growing problem in this country and any method we
have of helping children reduce their caloric intake will be greatly
We also are concerned with children overconsuming excessive amounts of
artificial sweeteners. The potential, long-term health consequences of
saccharin and aspartame ingestion are currently not fully known, but they do need to be kept in mind. Eliminating all artificial sweeteners will be a frustrating enterprise since they are extremely prevalent. However, by
partially substituting stevia in homemade desserts, you can significantly
reduce your children's exposure to these artificial chemicals.
Hopefully, with time, stevia can be added to a variety of sodas, candies,
gums, and other foods in the US, just like it currently is in Japan and other countries.
In 1991, Dr. M.S. Melis, from the Department of Biology at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, gave a one-time high dose injection of stevioside to rats and found that it caused a reduction in blood pressure as well as an increased elimination of sodium (Melis, 1991). A slight diuretic effect also occurred. The effect was additive when stevia was combined with verapamil (a medicine used to lower blood pressure in humans who have high blood pressure).
Dr. Melis repeated a similar study in 1995. This time, he administered
extracts of stevia to rats for 20, 40, and 60 days. After 20 days, there were no changes in the stevia-treated rats compared to the control group (the ones that didn't receive the extracts). However, after 40 or 60 days of administering the extract, there was a lowering of blood pressure, a diuretic effect was noted along with loss of sodium. The amount of blood going to the kidneys was increased.
When normal human volunteers between the ages of 20 to 40 years were
given a tea prepared with stevia leaves, a lowering of blood pressure
occurred (Boeck, 1981). This study was done in Brazil. Certainly more human
studies are needed before we can come to any conclusions regarding the full
effect of normal daily ingestion of stevioside on blood pressure.
Update May 2000 by Ray Sahelian, MD
How does stevia’s sweetness compare to other artificial sweeteners? Does it
even come close to their potency? A new study done at the Department of Food
and Nutrition, FCF-UNESP in Araraquara, Brazil, compared the relative
sweetness of stevia to that of aspartame, a cyclamate/saccharin combination,
and a 10 percent sucrose concentration. The results were interesting. An
equivalent dose of stevia, aspartame, the cyclamate/saccharin combination and
a 10 percent sucrose concentration all had practically the same potency!
Cardello HM, Da Silva MA, Damasio MH. Measurement of the relative sweetness
of stevia extract, aspartame and cyclamate/saccharin blend as compared to
sucrose at different concentrations. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 1999;54(2):119-30.