Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener that is often deemed as a “healthy” sweetener and replacement for sugar. It’s far sweeter than sucrose, yet contains zero calories (it’s not absorbed within the bloodstream, but instead passes through the small intestine). There’s usually two ends of the spectrum when it comes down to people talking about stevia. One group says it’s completely safe and a healthy, natural sweetener. The other side says stevia is harmful and does more harm than good, arguing that it causes cancer just to name one supposed negative effect.
So who’s right? The answer lies behind the sweetness. Let’s take an in-depth look at the zero calorie sweetener stevia.
Is Stevia Harmful?
Short answer: Yes, stevia is completely safe for human consumption. Large amounts of research show that stevia consumption is perfectly safe when used in safe amounts. So, what exactly is a safe amount of stevia?
The safe limit is around 8 mg per kilogram of bodyweight per day. I wouldn’t worry too much about watching your stevia levels unless you use it religiously, considering this amount is far more than what anyone would normally consume in a day. There have been lots of animal research using stevia on rats and hamsters which has shown stevia having harmful effects. However, when taking a closer look at the research, there are some problems with it:
1. These studies were done on rats. Last I checked, we’re not rats. Not to mention the rats were also prepubertal, which makes them more susceptible to certain effects.
2. With sweetener studies, and especially these ones, the dosage is absolutely sky high (literally over 600 grams per day).
3. Certain studies show that stevia causes infertility. However, the majority of research simply points out that there were no reproductive defects, and in a few cases there was even positive effects.
So, Does Stevia Cause Infertility?
Okay, back to the whole “infertility” issue because I know this is the main concern when people talk about stevia. Like I mentioned before, the studies are pretty inconclusive when it comes to proving stevia causes infertility. While I do believe more research is necessary, I think you’ll be completely safe as long as you follow the recommended guidelines and dosages I mentioned before. Either way, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
Benefits of Stevia
One of the main benefits stevia is known for is increasing insulin sensitivity (how well our bodies respond to insulin). Insulin levels when ingesting stevia stay relatively constant, and blood glucose levels are actually helped rather than elevated. Stevia has also been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties (thus, reducing carcinogens in the body), which can help protect you from future cancers. Not to mention stevia also reduces stress on the kidneys and even lowers bad cholesterol levels. The list goes on, but I think you get the idea: Stevia is completely safe and beneficial. Plus, it tastes awesome.
How To Use Stevia
Now, how does one incorporate stevia into their diet? It’s simple, really. Here are some of my personal favorite ways to use stevia:
☐ Added sweetness in tea (green tea also increases insulin sensitivity with plenty of health benefits as well)
☐ Added into oatmeal and shakes for extra sweetness.
☐ A replacement for sugar in recipes (⅓ cup of stevia = 1 cup of sugar)
☐ Added into coffee
☐ Added into yogurt
Of course, I’m sure there are other ways, but these are my favorite and generally the most common for people. If you like it, use it. If you hate it, don’t use it. Simple as that.
Why not try some of our alternative sweetners. Flavdrops contain no claories, no sugar, no carbohydrates and no fat! You can add them to anything that needs some extra flavor, like supplements or your cup of coffee.
Take Home Message
Stevia is completely safe for human consumption. Some brands include sugar alcohols with the stevia, which can cause gastrointestinal issues, so keep an eye out and make sure what you’re buying is actual stevia. Follow these guidelines, and incorporate stevia into your diet as you wish.