Ask Dave: What’s in My Stevia?

Posted on May 29, 2011 by


Hey Dave,

I was looking at a stevia product that has vegetable glycerin in it as one of the ‘other ingredients’.  Is it safe?  I looked it up and it said:

Vegetable glycerin is also known as vegetable glycerol. It is a carbohydrate that is usually derived from plant oils. It is used as a sweetener and as an ingredient in a number of cosmetic products. Vegetable glycerin is also used in place of alcohol to extract botanicals.

 Peggi, Illinois

 Hello Peggi,

My thoughts on additives are that they usually shouldn’t be there in the first place.  Glycerin is a relatively benign substance although water is used in liquid stevia as well and seems like a common sense choice when faced with the ‘chemical or not to chemical?’ question.

There are three liquids typically used to dilute or ‘carry’ stevia:  Water, Alcohol, and Glycerin.  Water would be my #1 choice whenever available; ‘SweetLeaf’ brand uses water and tastes excellent.

Liquid stevia containing glycerin would be my #2 choice as there are some concerns regarding the substance, primarily the source and production method.  Glycerin is derived from ‘natural and petrochemical sources’ – meaning you don’t know where it comes from!  A common natural source is palm oil which causes concerns of deforestation if it is not responsibly harvested.  I have NO IDEA what the ‘petrochemical’ source(s) is but I’d rather not eat too much of it.

Alcohol is my last choice for a stevia solvent; I purchased some due to poor label reading and was disappointed with the taste.  The advantage of alcohol is a longer shelf life.  I have never tasted or heard of spoiled stevia, so unless you are stocking up for a decade worth of zero calorie sweetening go with the water.

Also of interest:  While researching this topic I came across an English gentleman who had determined that stevia extract has an alkalizing effect on his coffee!  While the overall beverage is still ‘acid-forming’ it is exciting that by choosing a healthy sweetener you are making changes on a chemical level that can help you  – even as you drink your coffee – GO SCIENCE!

David Cohen



Posted in: Ask Dave