6 Health Dangers of Stevia

6 Health Dangers of Stevia

Stevia is a sweet little herb that's derived from the leaves of a plant that's related to sunflowers. It is being touted as the best solution for a sweet tooth by many health gurus. It seems like the perfect alternative to sugar--it's 300 times as sweet, so you only need to use a tiny bit, and it doesn't have calories or carbs, making it perfect for those who are watching their weight. But others warn that there are some pretty hefty health dangers posed by stevia and suggest it should be removed from the market. So who's right and who's wrong? As usual, it's a little bit of both and it depends upon which studies you read. The following are the top 6 health dangers purportedly posed by stevia, and a little background on each:

Side Effects

There are a few mildly unpleasant side effects that have been reported with stevia use, among them are dizziness, muscle pains, numbness, nausea, gas and bloating. However, these symptoms are of short duration.

Pregnant or Nursing Women

Since stevia is relatively new to the US market, more long-term studies are needed before it is recommended for use by pregnant or nursing women. If you have any questions about it, simply refrain from using it and try to find another natural alternative.

Blood Pressure

Research indicates that stevia lowers blood pressure levels. That's a good thing, right? Yes, unless you have low blood pressure already. If so, then you need to find another sweetener that does not have any effect on blood pressure.

Blood Sugar

Some studies suggest that stevia lowers your blood sugar, which means that diabetics should be very careful when using it as a sugar substitute. It's not forbidden from use, but experts recommend that you watch your blood sugar levels very closely after consuming it and alter your insulin levels accordingly.

Does It Have a Contraceptive Effect?

Depending upon which study you quote, stevia may have a contraceptive effect. Other studies seem to disprove this. So based on the available research, this one is inconclusive. If you are trying to conceive, you may--just to be on the safe side--refrain from using stevia and find another sugar alternative.

Is It a Carcinogen?

This is possibly the most controversial  issue surrounding stevia--does it cause cancer? One study showed that it could be turned into a mutagenic compound, which does cause cancer. Critics of this study have pointed out potential flaws in the process used to derive the compound. Other studies have shown no mutagenic compounds at all.

For many people stevia is the answer to a prayer--a no-carb, no-calorie sugar substitute that allows them to indulge in sweets while remaining on their diets. However, the actual data surrounding its short- and long-term harmful effects is contradictory and confusing. As a consumer, you should know that stevia did finally get FDA approval for use as a food product and it has their designation of being "safe." If you have any questions about it though, consult with your doctor. She can recommend whether or not using stevia is a good idea for you.

  • EMILY TAN

    Printed on the box of stevia I bought through a friend, is stated it is not suitable for consumers of ‘phenylketonurics’ .

    pls tell me what is that big word?

  • Brad

    http://www.astro.sunysb.edu/tracy/whatis.html

    A phenylketonuric is a person who cannot metabolize or convert phenylalanine (aspartame).

  • Jenny

    I am pregnant and didn’t necessarily want to consume excess calories from sugar so I have been using Stevia and products that contain Stevia. Most recently I found these naturally flavored powdered drink packet mixes and just love them. However, for the last 3 nights I have noticed that I wake up in the middle of the night with terrible bowel cramping. So, today….I am not going to mix in any of those drink packets to my water and see if the cramping goes away.

    Hopefully, my baby is okay. I am entering my 3rd trimester. I have been using Stevia all throughout my pregnancy. Yikes!

  • Marie

    I’ve had Truvia in packets, and can’t tell the difference between it and actual sugar. It does not taste much sweeter as advertised! So I was excited to try the new sodas sweetened with Stevia. I found some for the first time a couple of weeks ago. There was a cola and several flavors. I tried the cola and was horrified by the taste! It had no sweetness and tasted like poison. I returned the remaining cans to the store! I was extremely disappointed and not brave enough to try the flavors! Don’t they test their product before releasing it?? I must say that Coke Zero didn’t taste good when it was first released but must have been improved, since it’s hard to tell the difference between it and regular Coke. (But it had some sweetness to it!). Hopefully this new soda can be improved also…..but it has a long way to go!

  • Jimmy

    What do you mean, very few studies on Stevia? South Americans have been using it for years and the Japanese have used it for over 25 years. Most of the food products in Japan contain Stevia. Based on proven data the Japanese and South Americas have less cases of diabetes, cancers and other sugar-related diseases than we Americans. We love sugar and as such our sugar substitutes, all of which are man-made try to imitate sugar, are just as bad for us as the real thing. We have a huge sweet tooth and the best thing to do is to back away from using so much sugar, period. Tough? Yes it is. Sugar is one hard thing to back away from because we’ve grown up with it, eating it in almost every processed food we consume. We’re as hooked on sugar and sugar substitutes as any junkie is on drugs. Stevia has been tested for over 25 years on the Japanese people because everything they eat has Stevia in it and they aren’t dying from cancer or diabetes like we are. So judge for yourselves. I love the taste of sugar but I’m reducing it wherever I can. I can’t control all of it because it’s in so many processed foods. But where I can control, I’m trying to back away. And it’s been hard to do.

  • Liz

    Is there a big difference in taste between Stevia and Truvia? Also, are the side effects mentioned frequently experienced by people ingesting Stevia or are they a rare occurance?

  • Christine

    I just got done reading the bad effects from Truvia, too. Is there anything safe to use as a sweetener?

  • Henry

    Truvia contains stevia, but it is not a pure stevia extract. Truvia is has chemical modification and they call it an artifical sweetner. Truvia is made by Coca Cola and I would not trust their product. I wonder if Coca Cola is trying to make negative canotation with Stevia’s name.

    Stick to pure Stevia extract, that’s what Japanese and South Americans did for many decades. That’s what I am doing after surviving cancer. Cancer cells love sugar. Sugar is their food to survive and multiply. I refuse to feed any cancer cell in my body.