Is Stevia a Safe Sweetener?

14 Feb 2019
Read time: 4 min
Category: Archive

It’s extracted directly from a plant, it’s up to 200 times sweeter than table sugar, it contains no calories, and it doesn’t  come with the health problems associated  with other sweeteners.

We’re talking about stevia, a South American plant that has been used by indigenous peoples for hundreds of years to make tea and sweeten beverages. They also historically used it for its medicinal properties to treat stomach upset.

Though the word ‘stevia’ is associated with the entire plant, the components of it which are sweet have the technical name of ‘steviol glycosides’ and come from the leaves of the plant.

The medical journal Appetite featured a study in 2010 showing the effects of sugar, stevia, and artificial sweeteners in a group of experimental subjects. Stevia had by far the fewest health complications and after consuming it, study participants had lower blood sugar and lower insulin levels overall than those who consumed sugar or aspartame.

There is even study evidence that stevia lowers blood pressure in hypertension patients and can be useful in the treatment and management of diabetes.

No adverse reactions to its use have been documented, so stevia has been labeled safe to use by most of the world’s health organizations.

It’s sold under a variety of names and labels including, but not limited to, PureVia, Stevioside, Stevia Extract in The Raw, SweetLeaf, Steviacane, Enliten, or just plain Stevia.

Though the sugar and artificial sweetener industries tried for decades to suppress the sale and use of stevia, mostly by concocting phony claims about safety, it has gradually become a fixture in consumer buying choices.

As consumers have discovered, stevia can effectively substitute for sugar, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners in a wide range of edible goods: desserts, sauces, pickled foods, chewing gum, prepared vegetables, etc.

Science Evidence for Stevia Safety and Healing Properties

“We studied the effects of stevia leaves and its extracted polyphenols and fiber on diabetic rats. We hypothesize that supplementation of polyphenols extract from stevia in the diet causes a reduction in diabetes and its complications. The results suggested that stevia leaves do have a significant role in alleviating liver and kidney damage in diabetic rats, besides the hypoglycemic effect.”

Antioxidant, anti-diabetic and renal protective properties of Stevia rebaudiana. Shivanna N. Et al. J Diabetes Complications. 2013 Mar-Apr;27(2):103–13.

“The safety of steviol glycoside {stevia} sweeteners has been extensively reviewed in the literature. National and international food safety agencies and approximately 20 expert panels have concluded that steviol glycosides, including the widely used sweeteners stevioside and rebaudioside A, are not genotoxic. This review establishes the safety of all steviol glycosides with respect to their genotoxic/carcinogenic potential.”

Steviol glycosides safety: is the genotoxicity database sufficient?

Urban JD. Et al. Food Chem Toxicol. 2013 Jan;51:386–90.

“Our results {tested in diabetic rats} support the validity of an extract of  Stevia rebaudiana leaves for the management of diabetes as well as diabetes-induced renal disorders.”

Effects of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) extract and N-nitro-

L-arginine on renal function and ultrastructure of kidney cells in experimental type 2 Diabetes. Ozbayer C. Et al. J Med Food. 2011 Oct;14(10):1215–22.

“This review serves as a clinical support tool. Evaluation of two long-term studies (1 and 2 years in length) indicates that stevia may be effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients. A pair of small studies also report positive results with respect to glucose tolerance and response.”

An evidence-based systematic review of stevia by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Ulbricht C. Et al. Cardiovasc Hematol Agents Med Chem. 2010 Apr;8(2):113–27.

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