Stevia, also called Stevia rebaudiana, is a plant that is a member of the chrysanthemum family, a subgroup of the Asteraceae family (ragweed family).
There’s a big difference between the stevia you buy at the grocery store and the stevia you may grow at home.
Stevia products found on grocery store shelves, such as Truvia and Stevia in the Raw, don’t contain whole stevia leaf.
Stevia is made from a highly refined stevia leaf extract called rebaudioside A (Reb-A).
The active compounds are steviol glycosides (mainly stevioside and rebaudioside), which have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable.
The human body does not metabolize the glycosides in stevia, so Stevia contains zero calories, like artificial sweeteners.
Stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and at high concentrations some of Stevias extracts may have an aftertaste described as licorice-like or bitter.
Stevia is a plant-based sweetener and alternative to sugar.
Stevia’s derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which comes from the chrysanthemum family and is native to Brazil and Paraguay.
The stevia products we buy on the shelves are made from a heavily refined version of the plant’s leaf.
Stevia is between 150 and 200 times sweeter than sugar!
You’ll usually find Stevia in a blend with other sweeteners in commercial products.
What are the benefits?
Stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener, which means Stevia contains next to no calories.
Stevia’s a good option for those who are looking to lose weight, especially compared to sugar, which has around 20 calories per teaspoon.
Unlike sugar, stevia won’t spike insulin levels either.
In the early 1970s, sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin were gradually decreased or removed from a variant formulation of Coca-Cola.
Consequently, use of stevia as an alternative began in Japan, with the aqueous extract of the leaves yielding purified steviosides developed as sweeteners.
The first commercial Stevia sweetener in Japan was produced by the Japanese firm Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. in 1971.
The Japanese have been using stevia in food products and soft drinks, (including Coca-Cola), and for table use.
In 2006, Japan consumed more stevia than any other country, with stevia accounting for 40% of the sweetener market.
In the mid-1980s, stevia became popular in U.S. natural foods and health food industries, as a noncaloric natural sweetener for teas and weight-loss blends.
The makers of the synthetic sweetener NutraSweet (at the time Monsanto) asked the FDA to require testing of the herb.
As of 2006, China was the world's largest exporter of stevioside products.
In 2007, the Coca-Cola Company announced plans to obtain approval for its Stevia-derived sweetener, Rebiana, for use as a food additive within the United States by 2009, as well as plans to market Rebiana-sweetened products in 12 countries that allow stevia's use as a food additive.
In May 2008, Coca-Cola and Cargill announced the availability of Truvia, a consumer-brand Stevia sweetener containing erythritol and Rebiana, which the FDA permitted as a food additive in December 2008.
Coca-Cola announced intentions to release stevia-sweetened beverages in late December 2008.
From 2013 onwards, Coca-Cola Life, containing stevia as a sweetener, was launched in various countries around the world.
Shortly afterward, PepsiCo and Pure Circle announced PureVia, their brand of Stevia-based sweetener, but withheld release of beverages sweetened with rebaudioside A until receipt of FDA confirmation.
Since the FDA permitted Truvia and PureVia, both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have introduced products that contain their new sweeteners.
Rebaudioside A has the least bitterness of all the steviol glycosides in the Stevia rebaudiana plant.
To produce rebaudioside A commercially, Stevia plants are dried and subjected to a water extraction process.
This crude extract contains about 50% rebaudioside A.
The various glycosides are separated and purified via crystallization techniques, typically using ethanol or methanol as solvent.
Stevia extracts and derivatives are produced industrially and marketed under different trade names.
In fact, many stevia products have very little stevia in them at all.
Reb-A is about 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Sweeteners made with Reb-A are considered “novel sweeteners” because they’re blended with different sweeteners, such as erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and dextrose (glucose).
For example, Truvia is a blend of Reb-A and erythritol, and Stevia in The Raw is a blend of Reb-A and dextrose (packets) or maltodextrin (Bakers Bag).
Some stevia brands also contain natural flavors.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t object to the term “natural flavors” if the related ingredients have no added colors, artificial flavors, or synthetics.
Still, ingredients that fall under the “natural flavor” umbrella may be highly processed.
Many argue that this means there’s nothing natural about them.
You can grow stevia plants at home and use the leaves to sweeten foods and beverages.
Reb-A sweeteners are available in liquid, powder, and granulated forms.
For purposes of this article, “stevia” refers to Reb-A products.
Are there benefits to using stevia?
Stevia is a nonnutritive sweetener.
This means it has almost no calories.
If you’re trying to lose weight, this aspect may be appealing.
However, to date, research is inconclusive.
The impact of nonnutritive sweetener on an individual’s health may depend on the amount that is consumed, as well as the time of day it’s consumed.
If you have diabetes, stevia may help keep your blood sugar levels in check.
One 2010 study of 19 healthy, lean participants and 12 obese participants found that stevia significantly lowered insulin and glucose levels.
Stevia also left study participants satisfied and full after eating, despite the lower calorie intake.
However, one noted limitation in this study is that Stevia took place in a laboratory setting, rather than in a real-life situation in a person’s natural environment.
And according to a 2009 study, stevia leaf powder may help manage cholesterol.
Study participants consumed 20 milliliters of stevia extract daily for one month.
The study found stevia lowered total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides with no negative side effects.
Stevia also increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Stevia’s unclear if occasional stevia use in lower amounts would have the same impact.
How to use stevia as a sugar substitute
Stevia may be used in place of table sugar in your favorite foods and beverages.
A pinch of stevia powder is equal to about one teaspoon of table sugar.
Tasty ways to use stevia include:
in coffee or tea
in homemade lemonade
sprinkled on hot or cold cereal
in a smoothie
sprinkled on unsweetened yogurt
Some stevia brands, such as Stevia in the Raw, can replace table sugar teaspoon for teaspoon (as in sweetened beverages and sauces), unless you’re using it in baked goods.
You can bake with stevia, although it may give cakes and cookies a licorice aftertaste.
Stevia in the Raw recommends replacing half the total amount of sugar in your recipe with their product.
Other brands aren’t made specifically for baking, so you’ll need to use less.
You should add extra liquid or a bulking ingredient such as applesauce or mashed bananas to your recipe to make up for the lost sugar.
Stevia may take some trial and error to get the texture and level of sweetness you like.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is a sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant.
Stevia’s about 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, but Stevia has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients.
Not everyone likes the way Stevia tastes.
Some people find it bitter, but others think stevia tastes like menthol.
Try it in your morning coffee or sprinkled over your oatmeal to see if you like the taste.
Stevia Health Benefits
Stevia is natural, unlike other sugar substitutes.
Stevia’s made from a leaf related to popular garden flowers like asters and chrysanthemums.
In South America and Asia, people have been using stevia leaves to sweeten drinks like tea for many years.
Look for stevia in powder or liquid form in supermarkets and health-food stores.
You’re likely to find it on the baking goods aisle or in the health food aisle.
You may even get your sweet caffeine fix without calories or artificial sweeteners.
Major U.S. soda companies now sell diet cola soft drinks sweetened with stevia.
Some flavored waters also have stevia.
If you have diabetes, stevia could be a way to sweeten your yogurt or hot tea without adding carbohydrates.
Cooking With Stevia
You can use stevia like you would table sugar.
Sweeten a drink with Stevia or sprinkle Stevia on your cereal.
You can also cook with Stevia.
Each brand has Stevias own sugar-to-stevia ratio, so check the package before you measure out sweetener.
Stevia can cause a bitter aftertaste if you use too much.
Baking with stevia can be tricky.
Because it doesn’t have the same chemical properties as sugar, Stevia won’t give cakes, cookies, and breads the right texture.
Try experimenting with proportions or extra ingredients.
For example, adding whipped egg whites to a cake batter or extra baking powder and baking soda to a quick bread dough will help them rise.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a bushy shrub that is native to northeast Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.
Stevia is now grown in other parts of the world, including Canada and part of Asia and Europe.
Stevia is probably best known as a source of natural sweeteners.
Some people take stevia by mouth for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heartburn, and many others, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
Extracts from the stevia leaves are available as sweeteners in many countries.
In the US, stevia leaves and extracts are not approved for use as sweeteners, but they can be used as a "dietary supplement" or in skin care products.
In December 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status to rebaudioside A, one of the chemicals in stevia, to be used as a food additive sweetener.
How does Stevia work ?
Stevia is a plant that contains natural sweeteners that are used in foods.
Researchers have also evaluated the effect of chemicals in stevia on blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
However, research results have been mixed.
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Insufficient Evidence for Diabetes.
Some early research suggests that taking 1000 mg daily of stevia leaf extract might reduce blood sugar levels after eating by a small amount in people with type 2 diabetes.
But other research shows that taking 250 mg of stevioside, a chemical found in stevia, three times daily does not decrease blood sugar after three months of treatment.
High blood pressure. How stevia might affect blood pressure is unclear.
Some research suggests that taking 750-1500 mg of stevioside, a chemical compound in stevia, daily reduces systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a blood pressure reading) by 10-14 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by 6-14 mmHg.
However, other research suggests that taking stevioside does not reduce blood pressure.
Fast facts on stevia
Stevia is primarily grown in Brazil, Paraguay, Japan, and China.
The natural sweetener tastes 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.
Stevia can be classified as “zero-calorie,” because the calories per serving are so low.
Stevia has shown potential health benefits as a healthful sugar alternative for people with diabetes.
Stevia and erythritol that have been approved for use in the United States (U.S.) and do not appear to pose any health risks when used in moderation.
Stevia, also known as Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, is a bushy shrub that is part of the sunflower family. There are 150 species of stevia, all native to North and South America.
China is the current leading exporter of stevia products.
However, stevia is now produced in many countries.
The plant can often be purchased at garden centers for home growing.
As stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.
Stevia typically requires about 20 percent of the land and far less water to provide the same amount of sweetness as other mainstream sweeteners.
Stevia contains eight glycosides.
These are the sweet components isolated and purified from the leaves of stevia. These glycosides include:
rebaudiosides A, C, D, E, and F
Stevioside and rebaudioside A (reb A) are the most plentiful of these components.
The term “stevia” will be used to refer to steviol glycosides and reb A throughout this article.
These are extracted through a process of harvesting the leaves, then drying, water extraction, and purification.
Crude stevia, the processed product before Stevia is purified, often carries a bitter taste and foul smell until it is bleached or decolored.
Stevia takes roughly 40 steps to process the final stevia extract.
Stevia leaves contain stevioside in a range of concentrations up to around 18 percent.
Some of the common trade names for stevia sweeteners are:
Stevia Extract In The Raw
Possible health benefits
As an alternative to sucrose, or table sugar, using stevia as a sweetener carries the potential for considerable health benefits.
Stevia is considered “no-calorie” on the FoodData Central (FDC).
Stevia does not strictly contain zero calories, but it is significantly less calorific than sucrose and low enough to be classified as such.
The sweet-tasting components in stevia sweeteners occur naturally.
This characteristic may benefit people who prefer naturally-sourced foods and beverages.
The low calorie count qualifies Stevia to be a healthful alternative for diabetes control or weight loss.
Here are some of the possible health benefits of stevia.
Research has shown that stevia sweeteners do not contribute calories or carbohydrates to the diet. They have also demonstrated no effect on blood glucose or insulin response.
This allows people with diabetes to eat a wider variety of foods and comply with a healthful meal plan.
Another review of five randomized controlled trials compared the effects of stevia on metabolic outcomes with the effects of placebos.
The study concluded that stevia showed minimal to no effects on blood glucose, insulin levels, blood pressure, and body weight.
In one of these studies, subjects with type 2 diabetes reported that stevia triggered significant reductions in blood glucose and glucagon response after a meal.
Glucagon is a hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood, and the mechanism that secretes glucagon is often faulty in people with diabetes.
Glucagon drops when blood glucose climbs.
This regulates the glucose level.
2) Weight control
There are many causes of overweight and obesity, such as physical inactivity and increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and added sugars.
The intake of added sugars has been shown to contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet.
This has been linked to weight gain and reduced control of blood glucose levels.
Stevia contains no sugar and very few, if any, calories.
Stevia can be part of a well-balanced diet to help reduce energy intake without sacrificing taste.
3) Pancreatic cancer
Stevia contains many sterols and antioxidant compounds, including kaempferol.
Studies have found that kaempferol can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23 percent.
4) Blood pressure
Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels.
They can also increase sodium excretion and urine output.
A 2003 study showed that stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure.
The study suggested that the stevia plant might have cardiotonic actions.
Cardiotonic actions normalize blood pressure and regulate the heartbeat.
However, more recent studies have shown that stevia does not seem to impact blood pressure.
Further research is required to confirm this benefit of stevia.
5) Children’s diets
Foods and beverages containing stevia can play an important role in decreasing calories from unwanted sweeteners in the diets of children.
There are now thousands of products on the market containing naturally-sourced stevia, ranging from salad dressings to snack bars.
This availability allows children to consume sweet foods and drinks without the added calories while transitioning to a lower sugar diet.
Excessive sugars and calories are linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease.
In 2010, the European Food Safety Committee (EFSA) reviewed existing literature to determine if there was any cause for concern regarding the potential for allergic reactions to stevia.
The reviewers concluded that “steviol glycosides are not reactive and are not metabolized to reactive compounds, therefore, it is unlikely that the steviol glycosides under evaluation should cause by themselves allergic reactions when consumed in foods.”
Even the highly purified forms of stevia extract are highly unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.
No cases of allergic reaction to stevia have been recorded since 2008.
How is stevia used?
In the U.S., stevia sweeteners are primarily foundTrusted Source in table sugar products and reduced calorie beverages as sugar substitutes.
Extracts from the stevia leaf have been available as dietary supplements in the U.S. since the mid-1990s, and many contain a mixture of both sweet and non-sweet components of the stevia leaf.
The sweet components in stevia sweeteners are naturally occurring.
This may further benefit consumers who prefer foods and beverages they perceive as natural.
Worldwide, more than 5,000 food and beverage products currently use stevia as an ingredient.
Stevia sweeteners are used as an ingredient in products throughout Asia and South America such as:
Uses of stevia
Stevia is a useful sweetener for hot and cold drinks and can be sprinkled over foods for instant sweetness.
Stevia can be used in cooking, particularly where the primary role of stevia is to add sweetness.
Stevia does not caramelise and may not function so well as a direct substitute for sugar in recipes in which sugar is an integral part of the structure or texture.
The suitability of stevia in baking may vary depending on the ingredients of the stevia product itself.
Some stevia products have been formulated specifically for baking, however, it is advisable to check whether these will be suitable for your sugar levels as they may contain sugar.
Health benefits of stevia
Stevia is recognised as having properties which may result in the following health benefits:
Blood glucose lowering
Blood pressure lowering
Stevia, (Stevia rebaudiana), also called sweet leaf, flowering plant in the aster family (Asteraceae), grown for its sweet-tasting leaves.
The plant is native to Paraguay, where it has a long history of use by the Guaraní people.
The leaves contain a number of sweet-tasting chemicals known as steviol glycosides, which can be used fresh or dried to sweeten beverages or desserts or can be commercially processed into powdered noncaloric sweeteners.
Steviol glycosides, particularly the chemicals stevioside and rebaudioside A, can be more than 300 times sweeter than table sugar and are nonglycemic (i.e., they do not affect blood glucose levels).
Touted as a healthier alternative to sugar, stevia sweeteners grew in popularity worldwide in the early 21st century.
Stevia is a tender perennial herb that reaches 30.5–80 cm (1–2.5 feet) in height.
The oblong aromatic leaves are 2.5 cm (1 inch) long with a prominent midrib and are arranged oppositely along the stems.
The small tubular flowers have five white petals and are borne in terminal clusters; the flowers are usually removed to improve the flavour of the leaves.
Germination from seed is difficult, and most plants are grown from cuttings.
The plant requires rich well-drained soil and thrives in warm humid climates.
Stevia leaves have been used for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní people.
Traditionally, the plant was used to sweeten yerba maté and other teas, and it had a number of applications in folk medicine.
The first scientific record of the plant dates to 1899, when Swiss botanist Mosè Giacomo Bertoni (known in Spanish as Moisés Santiago Bertoni) announced his discovery of the sweet-tasting plant and named it Eupatorium rebaudianum.
In the early 1970s Japanese scientists developed the first commercial stevia-derived sweetener, which quickly gained popularity in that country.
After an initial ban because of carcinogen concerns, specific glycoside extracts were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008.
The European Union approved stevia sweeteners in 2011.
Stevia is perhaps unique among food ingredients because it's most valued for what it doesn't do.
Stevia doesn't add calories.
Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant.
There is some question as to its effectiveness as a weight loss aid or as a helpful diet measure for diabetics.
The stevia plant is part of the Asteraceae family, related to the daisy and ragweed.
Several stevia species called candyleaf are native to New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
But the prized species, Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni), grows in Paraguay and Brazil, where people have used leaves from the stevia bush to sweeten food for hundreds of years.
Moises Santiago Bertoni, an Italian botanist, is often credited with the discovery of stevia in the late 1800s, even though the native Guarani people had used it for centuries.
Known as kaa-he (or sweet herb) by the native population, the leaves of the plant had many uses.
In traditional medicine in these regions, stevia served as a treatment for burns, colic, stomach problems and sometimes as a contraceptive.
The leaves were also chewed on their own as a sweet treat.
Stevia took Bertoni over a decade to find the actual plant, leading him to initially describe the plant as very rare.
About the same time, more farms started growing and harvesting the stevia plant.
Stevia quickly went from growing in the wild in certain areas to being a widely available herb.
The legal status of stevia as a food additive or dietary supplement varies from country to country.
In the United States, high-purity stevia glycoside extracts have been generally recognized as safe (GRAS) since 2008, and are allowed in food products, but stevia leaf and crude extracts do not have GRAS or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in food.
The European Union approved Stevia additives in 2011, while in Japan, stevia has been widely used as a sweetener for decades.
The plant Stevia rebaudiana has been used for more than 1,500 years by the Guaraní peoples of South America, who called it ka'a he'ê ("sweet herb").
The leaves have been used traditionally for hundreds of years in both Brazil and Paraguay to sweeten local teas and medicines, and as a "sweet treat".
The genus was named for the Spanish botanist and physician Petrus Jacobus Stevus.
In 1899, Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bertoni, while conducting research in eastern Paraguay, first described the plant and the sweet taste in detail.
Only limited research was conducted on the topic until, in 1931, two French chemists isolated the glycosides that give stevia its sweet taste.
The stevia plant has been used for more than 1,500 years by people living in South America, including the Guaraní people of Brazil and Paraguay, who refer to it as ka’a he’ê, meaning “sweet herb.”
These native South Americans love using this non-caloric sugar substitute in their yerba mate tea, as medicine and as a sweet treat. In these countries, it also has been used specifically as a traditional medicine for burns, stomach problems, colic and even as a form of contraception.
Stevia can help you cut down on your sugar consumption, but are there are stevia side effects that may make it bad for you?
Several articles and other sources online claim that there may be some negative stevia side effects. This can be confusing, especially because it’s often touted as one of the healthiest natural sweeteners around.
So is stevia bad for you? Fortunately, side effects are not typically common, especially if you choose the right product.
In this article, we’ll lay out for you both the good and the bad about how stevia side effects may affect your health, as well as the distinctions between the many types of this natural sweetener.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is an herbal plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family, which means Stevia’s closely related to ragweed, chrysanthemums and marigolds.
Although there are over 200 species, Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is the most prized variety and the cultivar used for production of most edible products.
Stevia can naturally add sweetness to recipes even without contributing calories.
Stevia leaf extract is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, depending on the specific compound discussed, which means that you only need a tiny bit at a time to sweeten your morning tea or next batch of healthy baked goods.
In 1931, chemists M. Bridel and R. Lavielle isolated the two steviol glycosides that make the leaves of the plant sweet: stevioside and rebaudioside (with five variations: A, C, D, E and F).
Stevioside is sweet but also has a bitter aftertaste that many complain about when using it, while isolated rebaudioside is sweet without the bitterness.
Many raw/crude stevia or minimally processed stevia products contain both types of compounds, whereas more highly processed forms only contain the rebaudiosides, which is the sweetest part of the leaf.
Rebiana, or high-purity rebaudioside A, is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may be used as an artificial sweetener in foods and beverages.
Research shows that using the whole leaf or purified rebaudioside A boasts some great health perks, but the same may not hold true for altered blends that actually contain very little of the plant itself.
When Stevia comes to the options available today, Stevia’s important to know that not all stevia sweeteners are created equal.
In fact, there has been concern in recent years about counterfeit stevia or products laced with unwanted ingredients, which is one likely reason the FDA has been slow to approve all stevia leaf extracts and other products as GRAS.
Here is how some of these forms compare:
Crude stevia/green leaf stevia is the least processed of the types.
The leaves are dried and ground into powder form, producing a final product that is only about 10–15 times sweeter than sugar.
This unprocessed version more than likely contains a combination of steviosides and rebaudiosides.
Purified stevia extracts are also available.
In the U.S., this type of sweetener is composed of rebaudioside A in either a pure extract or our third type (altered blends).
Per FDA standards set forth in 2008, these extracts must contain over 95% or more pure rebaudioside A glycosides and may not contain other forms of rebaudiosides or steviosides in order to be legally marketed as food.
While purified stevia extracts are more processed than green leaf varieties, their health perks seem to be on par with the unprocessed counterpart.
Finally, the least healthy option is altered stevia blends.
By the time a product like this is placed on a shelf, very little of the stevia plant still remains, and many purified stevia extracts and altered blends are reported to be 200–400 times sweeter than sucrose.
Some companies use processes to create these blends that include chemical solvents, including acetonitrile, which is toxic to the central nervous system, and a corn-based derivative called erythritol.
The small amount remaining contains rebaudioside A only in the U.S.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
Made from organically grown stevia
No glycemic impact
Unfortunately, even some organic versions contain fillers.
Some aren’t truly pure stevia, so you should always read labels if you’re looking for a 100 percent stevia product.
Does not have to be made from organically grown stevia, meaning Stevia may be produced with pesticides or other chemicals
Non-GMO (there are currently no genetically modified cultivars of stevia in the world)
No glycemic impact
With non-organic brands, it’s very important to look for additional ingredients, like erythritol or inulin.
Although stevia itself is always non-GMO, many non-organic products are combined with erythritol or other non-nutritive sweeteners, many of which are made from GMO ingredients like corn.
Is stevia really healthy? According to a 2020 review, “In addition to its hypoglycemic property, the stevia plant also exhibits antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, antiseptic, diuretic, anti-fertility and cardiotonic properties.”
Below are some of the main advantages associated with stevia use:
1. May Have Anticancer Abilities
In 2012, Nutrition and Cancer highlighted a groundbreaking laboratory study that, for the first time ever, showed that stevia extract could help kill off breast cancer cells.
Stevia was observed that stevioside enhances cancer apoptosis (cell death) and decreases certain stress pathways in the body that contribute to cancer growth.
Another in vitro study out of China also found that steviol, which is a component found naturally in the leaves of the plant, was effective at blocking the growth and spread of gastrointestinal cancer cells, suggesting that it could possess powerful cancer-fighting properties.
2. Sweet News for Diabetics
Due to the fact that they can be supportive of metabolic health, many experts now recommend zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia for those with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes.
A 2018 review published in the Journal of Nutrition concluded that using stevia instead of white sugar can be very beneficial to those with diabetes who need to follow a low-glycemic, diabetic diet plan.
A separate article published in Journal of Dietary Supplements evaluated how stevia may impact rats with diabetes.
In the study, administering the sweetener to rats was found to significantly reduce blood glucose levels and increase insulin sensitivity, both of which can help defend against diabetes progression.
Another 2019 study in humans found that consuming stevia before a meal improved diabetic markers, such as by reducing blood glucose and insulin levels after eating.
Additionally, although participants consumed fewer calories, they reported similar levels of satiety, and they didn’t compensate by consuming more calories later in the day.
3. Supports Weight Loss
Added sugar consumption contributes a large percentage of the total calories each day in the average American diet — and high intake has been linked to weight gain, obesity and other adverse effects on metabolic health.
For this reason, stevia is one of the most popular keto sweeteners and is also often used by those following other low-carb diets like the Paleo diet to add sweetness to recipes without contributing too many carbs.
A 2019 randomized control trial also found that “stevia lowers appetite sensation and does not further increase food intake and postprandial glucose levels.
Stevia could be a useful strategy in obesity and diabetes prevention and management.”
4. Helps Improve Cholesterol Levels
Some studies have found that stevia leaf extract could improve cholesterol levels and help keep your heart healthy and strong.
For example, a 2018 animal model found that administering stevia leaf extract to rats for eight weeks helped reduce levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides and bad LDL cholesterol, while also enhancing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
Similarly, a 2009 study showed that the extract had “positive and encouraging effects” on overall cholesterol profiles and effectively improved HDL cholesterol, decreased triglycerides and lowered levels of LDL cholesterol.
5. Can Lower High Blood Pressure
Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels and increase sodium excretion, both of which can help support healthy blood pressure levels.
One study in Clinical Therapeutics showed that consuming capsules with 500 milligrams of stevioside three times daily for two years led to significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.
Keep in mind, however, that research on the potential effects of on hypertension has turned up mixed results, and some short-term studies have found no impact.
6. Unlikely to Cause Side Effects
While other natural sweeteners and substitutes often can cause digestive issues, a 2019 article published in Nutrients found that stevia is generally tolerated well and may even have beneficial effects on microbiota in the gut, elimination and glucose metabolism.
7. May Kill Lyme Disease
A 2015 study published in the European Journal of Microbiology & Immunology examined the effects of four forms of stevia: three liquid forms extracted from alcohol and a powdered form.
Researchers found that while the powdered form didn’t show much, the liquid forms worked better than Lyme disease drugs and appeared to kill off the bacteria that causes lyme after seven days.
Stevia is an intensely sweet-tasting, zero-calorie plant extract that’s gained interest as a replacement for sugar.
Stevia’s spiked in popularity in recent years, thanks to its reputation as being a more “natural” sweetener compared with common lab-made artificial sweeteners (it comes from a leaf extract).
Stevia is now an ingredient in 14,500 foods and beverages worldwide, according to the PureCircle Stevia Institute.
You’ll find the sweetener widely available under many brand names in the store for use at home, including Stevia in the Raw, PureVia, SweetLeaf, Pyure, Wholesome!, and Splenda Naturals, which now makes its own version of Stevia.
What Is Stevia Exactly, and How Is the Sweetener Made?
Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana, is a plant native to South America.
People there have been consuming the leaves as a source of sweetness for hundreds of years, according to an article published in May 2015 in the journal Nutrition Today.
Stevia became popular as a sweetener in Japan in the 1970s, but Stevia hadn’t been a leading sweetener in the United States until a decade ago.
Today, the extract is widely popular as a zero-calorie sugar alternative.
Most notably, stevia is very potent; Stevia’s 200 to 350 times sweeter than sugar.
Because stevia is added to thousands of products, reading the ingredient label will tell you if stevia is included.
Still, Stevia does go by many names, which can sometimes make pinpointing its presence tricky.
Here are the ones to look for, according to PureCircle:
As the world wakes up to healthier options and new alternatives to traditional ingredients, more of us than ever are reaching for sweeteners over sugar as a dietary addition.
Sweeteners have fallen in and out of favour with the public over the years, as attitudes and appetites have moved toward natural ingredients over artificial ones.
This has seen the rise in the popularity of Stevia and other natural sweeteners to give a dose of sweetness which isn’t full of the calories that sugar is.
Stevia may be several times sweeter than sugar, but there’s more goodness to Stevia than you’d guess.
Stevia may be natural, but is Stevia safe?
And why would you bother changing up sugar for sweetener when you (hopefully) aren’t consuming too much of it anyway?
So, let’s investigate this sweet stuff and find out the ins and outs of Stevia once and for all!
Stevia, or Stevia Rebaudiana, as Stevia’s technically known, is a plant not dissimilar to a chrysanthemum.
The plant contains steviol glycosides, which are compounds with a taste 30-100x sweeter than sugar (impressive, right?!).
Steviol glycosides don’t metabolise in the body, so unlike sugar, contain no calories.
Stevia, as a plant, has been grown for over 1,500 years in South America.
The leaves have been used as sweeteners for hundreds of years in both Brazil and Uruguay.
During the 1990s, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received two petitions requesting that stevia be classified as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), but the FDA "disagreed with [the] conclusions [detailed in the petitions]".
Stevia remained banned for all uses until the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, after which the FDA revised its stance and permitted stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, although still not as a food additive.
In 1999, prompted by early studies, the European Commission banned stevia's use in food products within the European Union pending further research.
In 2006, research data compiled in the safety evaluation released by the World Health Organization found no adverse effects.
In December 2008, the FDA gave a "no objection" approval for GRAS status to Truvia[b] and PureVia,[c] both of which use rebaudioside A derived from the Stevia plant.
However, the FDA said that these products are not stevia, but a highly purified Stevia-extract product.
In 2015, the FDA still regarded stevia as "not an approved food additive", and stated that it "has not been affirmed as GRAS in the United States due to inadequate toxicological information".
In June 2016, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued an order of detention for stevia products made in China based on information that the products were made using prison labor.
As of 2017, high-purity Stevia glycosides are considered safe and allowable as ingredients in food products sold in the United States.
Stevia leaf extract
Steviol glycosides (E960)
Rebaudioside A (Reb A)