Sugar Substitute: Is Stevia Safe For You?

Is this sugar substitute safe?

Stevia is a popular sugar substitute and here are the things you need to know about this and the potential benefits it can give to your body.

It is known as a natural substitute for sugar with zero calories that is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, based on the article in The Healthy. This has gained worldwide popularity, especially for health-conscious people.

The natural sweetener is derived from the South American Stevia rebaudiana plant, which contains steviol glycosides used as sweeteners. This is also known as rebaudioside A, reb-A, or rebian. Stevia is used in various food and beverage products such as desserts, gum, baked goods, candy, yogurt, and coffee.

sugar substitute stevia

Is this sugar substitute safe for you? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers stevia as “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS. However, the FDA approval does not apply to stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts.

Initially, this raised concern as the sweetener might increase the risk of cancer or reproductive problems based on animal studies. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) even encouraged the FDA to lift the GRAS status it has given to stevia.

After 10 years since this product was released and became widely used, the CSPI standard approved the popular sugar substitute.

What are the benefits you can get from stevia? Leah Kaufman, MS, registered dietician and certified diabetes educator in the weight management program at NYU Langone in New York City, said that stevia does not raise blood sugar. She also said that it is a good and safe sweetener for patients with diabetes. American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association agreed with this, as well, if it is used in moderation and does not compensate by eating extra calories at a later time.

“Those who are choosing to substitute sugar with stevia may benefit from this alternative; however, weight loss is not guaranteed,” Kaufman explained.

Aside from this, a study in Nature Communications, by researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium in 2017, showed that stevia stimulates a protein that is essential for taste perception and is involved in the release of insulin after a meal. It was said that this hormone insulin is produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar.

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