Cathy Kapica, PhD

Sweet stevia leaf extract promotes dental health

Dr. Cathy Kapica, The Awegrin Institute; Former Chair, GSI Board of AdvisorsDental caries (cavities) are one of the most common diseases throughout the world. Many people who do not have regular dental care aren’t aware that the teeth are damaged until they become painful. Cavities are formed when bacteria in the mouth are exposed to fermentable carbohydrates like sugar. The reduction of fermentable carbohydrate intake and its replacement with non-fermentable carbohydrates is considered a useful approach to prevent cavities. Even though stevia is sweet, and it does not contain fermentable carbohydrate, a research study was conducted to determine what effect, if any, stevia has in tooth decay. Researchers studied two of the most common steviol glycosides, stevioside and rebaudioside A, to determine what impact they would have on variables that promote caries development.1 Twenty volunteers rinsed for 1 min with each sucrose or stevia extract solutions, and plaque pH was measured. After 5, 10, 15 and 30 minutes, the sucrose rinse produced a statistically significantly lower pH value compared to the Stevia extracts, meaning that more acid was formed with sucrose. The authors conclude that Stevia extracts can be considered nonacidogenic and therefore appropriate to support dental health.Dental health is being recognized as important for overall health of the body, as well. Poor oral hygiene, coupled with excess sugar consumption can lead to periodontal disease, in which chronic infection from gum disease can cause an inflammatory response that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.2


1 Brambilla E, Cagetti MG, Ionescu A, Campus G, Lingström P. An in vitro and in vivo Comparison of the Effect of Stevia rebaudiana Extracts on Different Caries-Related Variables: A Randomized Controlled Trial Pilot Study. Caries Research; 48(1):19-23, 2013. 2 Bains A, Rashid MA. Junk food and heart disease: the missing tooth. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine106:12, 472-3, 2013.
Cathy Kapica, PhD

Tea sweetened with stevia may help maintain naturally occurring antioxidants in tea

Dr. Cathy Kapica, The Awegrin Institute; Former Chair, GSI Board of AdvisorsTea is the most commonly consumed beverage around the world, with black tea being the most popular choice. Tea is known to contain several compounds, known as polyphenols, which function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in the body. While both black and green teas have polyphenols, the specific kinds vary with each tea type. Tea polyphenols have been shown to have numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease1.Black tea, in particular, is often consumed with milk and/or added sweeteners such as sugar, honey or stevia. To study if adding milk or sweeteners affected the health-promoting antioxidants of the tea, researchers in Kenya2 chose leaf samples from five tea cultivars. Teas were prepared using a standardized method, and made with varying levels of milk, sugar, honey or stevia. Antioxidant levels were measured. Results showed that adding milk, sugar or honey reduced antioxidant levels of the tea. Stevia had no significant influence on antioxidant activity of plain or milk black teas. According to the results of this study, sweetening tea with stevia is a better choice. More research is needed to confirm these results in tea from other parts of the world.


1Gupta J, et al. A review on beneficial effects of tea polyphenols on human health. Intl J Pharmacology, 5, 314–338, 2008. 2 Korir MW, et al. The fortification of tea with sweeteners and milk and its effect on in vitro antioxidant potential of tea product and glutathione levels in an animal model. Food Chemistry. 145:145-53, 2014.

Stevia Safety: Why You Really can be Comfortable with Stevia

By Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD Global Stevia Institute Advisor, internationally known nutritionist, and Associate Clinical Professor of PediatricsWhat does “comfort” mean to you? To many people, it encompasses a combination of several things: safety, trust, feeling cared for, happiness, all these things rolled into one. Becoming comfortable with something doesn’t happen right away, it needs to be earned and stand the test of time. Things that make us feel comfortable have done so repeatedly for a long time. We can count on them to deliver. Reassurance is part of making us comfortable – we need to know that the same level of comfort is given each and every time.Stevia can actually provide us with a similar type of comfort in its own way. How can a zero-calorie sweetener do this?Stevia most certainly passes the test of time. It has been around for hundreds of years and used as a natural sweetener by the natives of Paraguay to sweeten their teas, beverages or just to chew as a sweet treat. It grows wild and is quite adaptable so it’s always been there for them – something they could count on to make their beverages more enjoyable to drink and their snacks a little sweeter to eat. They feel comfortable having it as a lifelong food and ingredient in their diets, comfortable giving it to their children and comfortable knowing it always delivers a wonderful sweet taste, naturally.However, some people don’t have the same high comfort level with zero-calorie sweeteners, despite the rigorous safety testing. Perhaps this is because until recently, all commercially available zero-calorie sweeteners were artificial. And many people have additional concerns about giving these zero-calorie, artificial sweeteners to children.What that tells me is that we still have some work to do to help educate people on the facts about stevia:
  • Stevia is naturally sourced– it’s nature’s zero-calorie sweetener.
  • Stevia has no effect on blood sugar and can replace sweet carbohydrate calories in the diet of adult and children with diabetes.
  • Stevia can be a way to return some comfort foods and beverages to your diet with fewer calories, naturally.
Stevia’s naturally sourced, zero calorie sweetness is suitable for the whole family.Family eating dinner The fact is stevia is safe for all members of the family, including children. There are more than 200 studies attesting to the safety of stevia including multi-generational reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity as well as studies focusing on hemodynamics, glucose homeostasis, genotoxicity, mutagenicity and carcinogenicity. These studies found no safety concerns for stevia within accepted consumption levels.Of course this isn’t new news to the Japanese who tout stevia safety, using it as a general, no calorie sweetener for more than 40 years or the natives of Paraguay who have been comfortable giving stevia to their kids and families for hundreds of years. Stevia has certainly withstood their test of time. So, isn’t it about time that we all take advantage of the benefits of stevia, the naturally sourced, no-calorie sweetener?

1. Scientific Opinion on the safety of steviol glycosides for the proposed uses as a food additive: EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS). EFSA Journal.2010;8(4):1537. 2. Carakostas M, et al. Overview: the history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2008; 46:S1-S10.


An “Invisible Epidemic”: The Global Rise of Non-Communicable Diseases

By Dr. Margaret Ashwell, OBE, Director of Ashwell Associates Ltd, a company of independent scientific consultants and disseminators who focus on obesity, heart disease and health claims, among other areas of expertise.Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are diseases that are not infectious or contagious. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are the most common NCDs. These diseases cause 36 million deaths yearly, 63% of all global deaths, and are among the leading causes of preventable morbidity and related disability.1 The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the rise of NCDs an “invisible epidemic” and predicts that NCD deaths will increase by 17% over the next seven years. The most common NCDs are linked to overweight/obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco and harmful alcohol use. Eliminating these shared risk factors could prevent 80% of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and over a third of cancers.2NCDs are rapidly growing and affect people of all ages, gender, race and income levels. Developing countries, however, bear a greater burden, as 80% of deaths in these countries are due to NCDs. The United Nations (UN) named NCDs as a significant threat to international development in this century.The UN concluded that prevention must be the cornerstone of a global response to rising NCDs. The organization urged world leaders to address common risk factors through the World Health Organization’s 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs. These plans call for global, regional, and national efforts to reduce exposure to NCD risk factors, while educating people about healthier choices and how to support lifestyles that foster good health.The WHO focuses on diet and physical activity as important factors for both disease prevention and weight management. Rising obesity levels across the world are linked to the increase in NCDs. Therefore, combating the global obesity epidemic also addresses the rise of NCDs. The Action Plan highlights the need for healthier dietary choices, by specifically calling for reduction of free sugars, lower sodium and no trans fats in foods and beverages.The Role of Stevia Stevia can play a significant role in controlling calorie and sugar levels in foods and beverages by reducing added sugar in the diet. Stevia is a no-calorie sweetener of natural origin that can be added to foods and beverages for a sweet taste without the calories. Stevia can be found in hundreds of food and beverage products from around the world including teas, soft drinks, juices, yogurt, soymilk, baked goods, cereal, salad dressings, confections and as a tabletop sweetener.For people trying to manage their weight, stevia provides a natural way to cut calories. Weight management depends on a balance between the amount of calories taken in as food and drink with the amount of calories burned off through daily activity and exercise and. Replacing just 25g (six teaspoons) of sugar in foods and beverages can provide a 100 kilocalorie reduction. Substituting stevia, or stevia-sweetened products, for added sugar may help reduce overall caloric intake and support weight loss.Stevia is an important and suitable option for people who have diabetes, but do not want to eliminate all sweet foods and beverages from their diets. Research has shown that stevia has no effect on blood sugar levels.3Stevia is a plant native to South America that has been used as a natural sweetener in foods and beverages for hundreds of years. The safety of stevia for human consumption has been established through rigorous peer-reviewed research and the FDA and the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives recognizes it as safe.4, 5

1. 2010 Global Status Report on Noncommunicable diseases, World Health Organization, 2010, 2. 2008-2013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs, World Health Organization, 2008,, a Steviol Glycoside, in Men and Women with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Food Chem Toxicol 46(S7):S47-S53, 2008. 3. Maki KC et al: Chronic Consumption of Rebaudioside, accessed October 2011 4. United States Food & Drug Administration, GRAS Notices Summary, accessed October 2011 5. JECFA Regulation Summary,, accessed October 2011