The Hub June 2017 - Page 7

Eat Right Ontario Stevia is a sweetener that is growing in popularity. Like many people, you may have questions about stevia. What is stevia? Is it safe to use? Read on to find answers to these questions. Stevia comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. Stevia is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar and has no cal ories. Stevia has a slightly bitter taste so it is often combined with sugar or other sweeteners like sugar alcohols and fructose in food. Stevia is sold as a liquid or powder tabletop sweetener in many grocery stores, speciality food stores and pharmacies. Stevia is also added to certain foods and drinks like snacks, yogurt, cereals and drinks. There are two types of stevia: purified stevia extract and unrefined stevia extracts, leaves and powders. Purified stevia extract Purified stevia extract (or stevia glycoside) is approved and regulated by Health Canada as a food additive (sweetener). This type of stevia is considered safe for children over 2 and adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, within the Acceptable Daily Intake guidelines. This limit is set to 4mg/kg body weight per day. The amount of stevia that a person may consume in a day is typically well below what is considered safe. What is stevia? Is it safe to use? What do you need to know? For more information about stevia and other sweeteners, visit Eat Right Ontario Unrefined stevia extracts, leaves and powders These products are not regulated by Health Canada because they are considered food ingredients, not additives. However, Health Canada has approved the use of stevia extracts, leaves and powders in some Natural Health Products (NHPs) as a medicinal and non-medicinal ingredient. Natural Health Products (NHPs) that contain stevia extracts, leaves or powders as a medicinal ingredient in amounts higher than the Acceptable Daily Intake may be unsafe for some people. Always talk to your doctor, dietitian or healthcare provider about any NHPs that you are taking or thinking about taking. Stevia is one of many sweeteners approved in Canada. If you use stevia or consume food and drinks that contain stevia, enjoy them in moderation along with other healthy foods. Before using Natural Health Products, speak to your health care professional. Tell us on Facebook about your adventures with food this month, or tweet us @thehubWE #foodmatters June 2017 - The HUB 7