Does Stevia Contain Gluten?

Stevia offers a zero-calorie alternative to sugary sweeteners.
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If you're watching your weight or blood sugar, stevia leaf powder or liquid extracts offer a sweet alternative without the calories, carbohydrates, and glucose of traditional white sucrose, or table sugar. It is also generally a safe choice for for you if you're following gluten-free diets. A common allergen, gluten is a protein found in wheat and many other common grains. In its natural unadulterated form, stevia is a gluten-free food.

Additives

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By itself, the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which contains the leaves coveted for their non-nutritive sweetness -- yielding extracts 200 to 300 times as sweet as sugar -- contains no gluten. However, stevia products may contain additives that threaten its naturally gluten-free status. Take the time to read labels to ensure that your stevia does not include possible gluten- or cross-contaminated ingredients.

Powder Extracts

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Stevia powder can contain inulin or matodextrin. Inulin is a form of chricory root fiber that is naturally gluten-free, so long as it is not contaminated by shared equipment. Maltodextrin can be made from corn, potato, rice or wheat and is generally gluten-free. In the United States, most maltodextrin comes from starches other than wheat. Still, microscopic amounts of gluten may exist.

Liquid Extracts

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Like liquid flavor extracts, liquid stevia often contains grain alcohol. Some believe that alcohol's thorough distillation process renders it ultimately gluten-free. Others disagree, citing manufacturers' lack of obligation to rid all gluten from their liquor and a lack of labeling laws. Alcohol processing equipment may also be cross-contaminated with gluten. If you're a gluten-free consumer, look for products that use water and vegetable glycerine instead of alcohol.

Conclusion

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In general, stevia offers a safe, alternative all-purpose sweetener for you if you're avoiding gluten. If you suffer from extreme gluten sensitivity, consult with your health care provider before adding a new supplement to your diet.

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