Stevia is frequently promoted as a secure and beneficial sugar alternative that may be used to sweeten food without the risks to one’s health associated with refined sugar.
Additionally, it has been linked to a number of remarkable health advantages, including lower blood sugar levels, calorie consumption, and cavity risk.
However, there are some questions about the safety of stevia, particularly for some persons who could be more susceptible to its effects.
To help you decide if you should use stevia, this article looks at its safety.
Stevia: What is it?
Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the stevia plant’s leaves (Stevia rebaudiana).
Many people who want to reduce weight and consume less sugar frequently choose it because it has no calories but is 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Additionally, this sweetener has been linked to various health advantages, including decreased cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
However, the quality of commercial stevia products varies.
Numerous commercially available variants are actually quite refined and mixed with additional sweets, like erythritol, dextrose, and maltodextrin, which may change their possible health consequences.
Safety research may be inadequate for less processed versions in the meanwhile.
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Types of stevia
There are various types of stevia available, and each one has a different manufacturing technique and ingredient list.
For instance, a number of well-known products, like Trivia and Stevia in the Raw, are actually stevia blends, one of the stevia varieties that has undergone the greatest processing.
Along with other sweeteners like maltodextrin and erythritol, they are manufactured with rebaudioside A (Reb-A), a form of refined stevia extract.
To isolate Reb-A during processing, the leaves are submerged in water and run through a filter with alcohol. The extract is then crystallized, dried, and mixed with other sweets and fillers.
There are also liquid and powdered pure extracts created solely from Reb-A.
Pure extracts go through many of the same production steps as stevia mixes, but they are not mixed with additional sweeteners or sugar alcohols.
The least processed form of stevia is a green leaf. It is produced with dried and ground entire stevia leaves.
Although the green leaf product is often regarded as the purest form, Reb-A and pure extracts have both undergone more extensive research. Therefore, there is a lack of study on its safety.
Stevia is a sweetener with no calories. Commercial variations are frequently blended with additional sweeteners and heavily processed.
Stevia dosage and safety
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has certified steviol glycosides, refined extracts of stevia like Reb A, as safe, allowing for their usage in food items and marketing in the United States.
However, because of a dearth of studies, the FDA has not yet approved the use of whole-leaf variants and raw stevia extracts in food items.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the FDA, and other regulatory bodies define the allowable daily intake of steviol glycosides as up to 1.8 mg per pound of body weight (4 mg per kg)
Various populations’ safety with stevia
Despite the fact that many stevia products are widely regarded as harmless, a recent study suggests that this calorie-free sweetener might affect some persons differently.
Different populations may want to be more careful with their intake due to health issues or advanced age.
If you have diabetes, stevia may be beneficial to you, but be cautious while selecting the type.
Stevia may be a secure and efficient strategy to help persons with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, according to some research.
In fact, a short study done on 12 patients with this illness found that using this sweetener with a meal caused blood sugar levels to drop more than using corn starch as a control did.
Similar to this, an 8-week study in diabetic rats found that stevia extracts significantly improved long-term blood sugar control by lowering blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C levels by over 5% in comparison to rats fed a control diet.
Be aware that certain stevia blends could also contain sweeteners like dextrose and maltodextrin which can raise blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes, using these products in moderation or choosing pure stevia extract can help you maintain normal blood sugar levels.
On the safety of stevia during pregnancy, there is little research.
However, animal studies indicate that when used in moderation, this sweetener—in the form of steviol glycosides like Reb A—does not adversely affect fertility or pregnancy outcomes.
Steviol glycosides are also deemed safe for adults by several regulatory bodies, even during pregnancy.
However, there is little study on raw extracts and whole-leaf stevia.
Therefore, it is preferable to adhere to steviol glycoside-containing FDA-approved products during pregnancy rather than whole-leaf or raw goods.
Stevia can assist in reducing added sugar consumption, which may be especially advantageous for kids.
The American Heart Association (AHA) contends that increased consumption of added sugar raises children’s risk of developing heart disease by altering triglyceride and cholesterol levels and causing weight gain.
Stevia could potentially reduce these hazards by replacing additional sugar.
The FDA has given its approval to steviol glycosides like Reb-A. However, it’s crucial to watch children’s consumption in particular.
This is due to the fact that youngsters find it far simpler to exceed the daily stevia allowance, which is 1.8 mg per pound of body weight (4 mg per kg) for both adults and children.
Limiting your child’s intake of stevia-sweetened foods and other sweeteners, such as sugar, can help avoid negative side effects and promote general health.
Whole-leaf and raw extracts are not permitted by the FDA, however steviol glycosides like Reb A are. Children, expectant mothers, and diabetics may all experience the effects of stevia differently.
Stevia side effects
Stevia may have negative effects on certain people even though it is generally regarded as safe.
One assessment, for instance, warned that low-calorie sweeteners like stevia can reduce levels of good gut bacteria, which are essential for digestion, immunity, and the prevention of disease.
Variations in gut bacteria may have a detrimental impact on body weight, triglycerides, and levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which are established risk factors for heart disease, according to a second study involving 893 persons.
One study in 30 men found that drinking a beverage sweetened with stevia led participants to eat more later in the day compared to drinking a beverage sweetened with sugar. Some research even suggests that stevia and other zero-calorie sweeteners may cause you to consume more calories throughout the day.
Additionally, a meta-analysis of seven research found that habitual use of zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia may eventually lead to an increase in body weight and waist circumference.
Additionally, certain stevia-containing products may contain sugar alcohols like sorbitol and xylitol, which are sweeteners sometimes linked to gastrointestinal problems in sensitive people.
Additionally, the blood pressure and blood sugar-lowering effects of stevia may interfere with the effects of drugs used to treat these diseases.
For best benefits, consume in moderation and think about cutting back if any side effects occur.
Your number of beneficial gut flora may be disturbed by stevia. Contrary to popular belief, some evidence even hints that it can boost food intake over time, causing a rise in body weight.
Lower blood sugar levels have been associated with the natural sweetener stevia, among other advantages.
Although whole-leaf and raw products have not been thoroughly studied, purified extracts are thought to be safe.
Stevia is a fantastic alternative to processed sugar because it has few adverse effects and may be used sparingly.
Remember that this sweetener needs more study.