Stevia: A Great Ally to Control Calorie Intake

Do your patients know about the benefits of Stevia as an alternative to sugar? Here’s how they can use a naturally derived sweetener for a healthier lifestyle! 


  • It’s a Naturally-derived Calorie-free Sweetener!  
  • It’s zero calories yet is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar!  
  • It’s a Great Ally to Support Nutrition and Health by Controlling Calorie Intake! 
  • It’s Safe!  

It’s a Naturally-derived Calorie-free Sweetener! 

Stevia leaf extract is the perfect sweetener for the growing number of consumers looking for healthy and natural products. The Stevia leaf extracts are derived from the leaves of the Stevia plant, a small herb native to South America, whose sweetness is due to the existence of sweet constituents in the leaves of the plant known as steviol glycosides. Steviol glycosides are found in the leaves of the Stevia plant and are the sweet compounds that occur naturally in the leaves of the Stevia plant. 

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives’ (JECFA) Report of its 69th meeting provides a statement in this direction on the constituent of the stevia plant: “Steviol glycosides are natural constituents of the plant Stevia rebaudiana  Bertoni, belonging to the Compositae family.” 

Nature made the leaves of the Stevia plant so sweet that Stevia extracts are between 250 to 400 times sweeter than sugar, and contains no calories. Therefore a little bit of Stevia goes a long way to providing intense sweetness.  

It’s zero calories yet is 400 times sweeter than sugar! 

From a chemical standpoint, stevia is calorie-free because of steviol glycoside. Steviol glycoside molecules contain linked sugars (primarily glucose) but are resistant to digestion by the human body. As such, steviol glycosides molecules do not break down in the body until they reach bacteria in the colon, where sugars are cleaved from the molecule. The remaining steviol unit is converted to steviol glucuronide and is excreted in the urine stream. However, stevia leaf sweeteners are consumed daily in such low amounts (by being 250–400 times sweeter than sucrose) that colonic metabolism of the sugar molecules does not significantly contribute to daily caloric intake. Replacing nutritive sweeteners in part or whole with stevia on a sugar equivalent basis allows for significant calorie reduction. Stevia extracts contribute zero calories. However, it’s also important to account for the caloric contribution of other ingredients in the formulation. 

Steviol glycosides are the collective name of the sweet components present in the stevia leaf. These sweet components consist of glucose molecules. There are nine steviol glycosides approved worldwide:  Rebaudioside A, B, C, D, E, F, dulcoside A, rubusoside, steviolbioside and stevioside. The two main components in the stevia leaves are Rebaudioside A and stevioside. The leaf includes an estimated 30 additional molecules, although the nine listed above are the only ones so far with regulatory approval. 

It’s a Great Ally to Support Nutrition and Health by Controlling Calorie Intake! 

Living healthily and having a balanced diet means eating the right foods and portions and getting plenty of exercises and it also means controlling calorie intake. Stevia leaf extract is one way to lower calories in the sweet foods you enjoy such as cakes, pies, breakfast cereals, cookies and flavored drinks as it pairs well with sugar and other sweeteners, but has no calories. It’s also a great way to add sweetness to your coffee, tea and yoghurt without adding calories. 

Manufacturers have been successful in reformulating products that combine sugar and Stevia to help reduce calories. Products achieving between 20-30% caloric reduction represent a good solution for consumers to lower their caloric intake. Consumers can also use Stevia extract when cooking at home to reduce calories and achieve a desired level of sweetness. 

It’s Safe!  

In the last 8 years leading foodsafety and regulatory agencies have issued positive safety opinions on the safe use of stevia leaf extracts in foods and beverages, including the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To date, stevia is approved in more than 100 countries worldwideandmore than 4.5 billion consumers worldwide have access to products sweetened with stevia

More than 200 research studies support the safety of high purity steviol glycosides. These studies present biological, toxicological and clinical data and have been assessed by a number of objective third-party reviewers. 

The body of scientific evidence supports that purified stevia extract has no adverse effects in humans and is safe for the general population when used as a sweetener in foods and beverages. 

Research has also shown that high purity stevia extract is safe for consumption by special populations including pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children. 

Human tolerance studies performed in people with and without diabetes mellitus have shown that high purity steviol glycosides have no effect on blood pressure when consumed within the recommended levels.  

Governments and policymakers around the world are increasingly worried about what is now being called the “obesity epidemic,” and the fallout on a global scale is devastating. From diabetes to heart disease, health officials are calling for decreases in calorie intake. 

Stevia – the only naturally derived zero-calorie sweetener and approved in more than 100 countries – can be a part of the solution. 


  • In 2008, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) established the safe use of steviol glycosides and set an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for steviol glycosides of 4 mg/kg bw on a steviol equivalents basis. ADI is an estimate of the amount of a food additive that can be consumed daily over an entire lifetime without appreciable health risk. 
  • In 2008, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) permitted the use of steviol glycosides in specified foods at specified levels and in Dec 2010, allowed the increase of the maximum permitted use level of steviol glycosides in ice cream and specified beverages. 
  • In 2008, the US FDA issued two no-objection letters for high purity steviol glycosides with Rebaudioside A and Stevioside as principal components being safe for use in food and beverages. To date, over 35 no-objection letters for high purity steviol glycosides have been issued by the US FDA. 
  • In 2009, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control requested the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) authorized the use of rebaudioside A at 97% purity in foods and beverages for up to 2 years. This approval was a further confirmation of the safe use of high purity Stevia extracts by leading safety authorities. 
  • In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), published a positive Scientific Opinion on the safety of steviol glycosides’ use as a sweetener in foods and beverages. 
  • In 2011 the European Commission and the European Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health approved steviol glycosides for use as a food additive in the European Union, opening the way for Stevia-based products to appear on the European Union market by December 2011. 
  • In 2012, Health Canada (HC) approved the addition of steviol glycosides to the List of Permitted Sweeteners in certain food categories including as a table top sweetener. 
  • In 2014, the Indonesia National Agency of Dugs and Food Controls (BPOM) approved the use of Stevia extracts in the Indonesian market for food and beverage products. 
  • In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA), published a positive Scientific Opinion on the amendment of the specification of steviol glycosides’ use as a sweetener to include Reb M, D and X. 
  • In 2015, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) published a notification relating to the approval of steviol glycosides in India. High purity steviol glycosides extracted from Stevia leaf are approved for use in major food and beverage categories including dairy, beverages and table top sweeteners. 
  • In 2015, the FSSAI (India) expanded the list of approved food and beverage categories that can now use steviol glycosides as part of their operationalization of standards of food additives for use in various food categories. 
  • In 2016 Health Canada’s Food Directorate completed a detailed safety assessment and approved for use steviol glycosides containing the steviol glycoside “rebaudioside M” (Reb M) as a high-intensity sweetener in the same food categories and under the same conditions of use as the previously-permitted steviol glycosides in Canada. 
  • Steviol glycosides are permitted for use in foods and beverages in over 100 countries including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, European Union (28 countries), India, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, USA, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.