Stevia has been touted as the cure-all to sweeteners – but what’s really its deal? Just because it’s “natural” does that mean it’s good for you? Have you been wondering if stevia is bad for you? So have we! This is what we’ve found out.
What is Stevia?
Stevia originates from a South American plant that is naturally very sweet. There are 200+ species of stevia and many varieties of stevia are available in the market today, ranging from 30 to 300x sweeter than sugar. Because the plant is so much sweeter than sugar, the stevia you are consuming is most likely cut with other ingredients like sugar-alcohols and other artificial ingredients for the taste which may change it from being considered “all natural.” Even though Stevia is calorie-free, that doesn’t necessarily mean you will lose weight if you substitute it for sugar.
How to Use Stevia
The most common use of stevia is to replace sugar. There are many recipes for ice cream, baked goods, smoothies, puddings, and other sweet treats that use stevia instead of sugar. Stevia is most commonly used as a sweetener for tea, coffee, and other beverages.
Types of Stevia
Green Leaf Stevia
This type of stevia is the least processed option most popular in Japan and South American countries. Green leaf stevia is only about 10 to 15 times sweeter than sugar.
Purified Stevia Extracts
This form os stevia is what you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores. The FDA has regulated the sale of stevia, so brands can only sell the stevia leaf extract, not the leaf itself. Stevia extracts are processed but have about the same health benefits as green leaf stevia.
Altered Stevia Blends
This is exactly what it sounds like — a blend of chemicals that include small amounts of stevia. These blends are known to be 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar.
Is Stevia Bad For You?
While the jury is still out on stevia, some research has shown it to be associated with fertility and reproductive side effects. There is still not enough research to focus on any direction of stevia’s health benefits or negative side effects.
As always, try to consume a diet centered around whole foods and natural ingredients. Our bodies were not designed to handle artificial sweeteners or processed foods. Enjoy something unsweetened and unprocessed, like hint.
Side Effects of Stevia
Some people who take stevia or stevioside can experience bloating or nausea. Other people have reported feelings of dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness.
People who are allergic or sensitive to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and other plants in the Asteraceae/Compositae family may have negative reactions to products that contain stevia extract.
Benefits of Stevia
Stevia is a plant-based sweetener, meaning it has almost no calories. This sounds too good to be true, especially for people who are trying to cut down on sugar and lose weight. However, there’s no conclusive evidence that stevia is a healthy ingredient for people trying to lose weight. Keep in mind that stevia you buy at the grocery store is made of extract, not the leaf itself.