Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

What Is Stevia?

Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

Stevia is perhaps unique among food ingredients because it's most valued for what it doesn't do. It doesn't add calories. Un 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.

It 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.  

Today, stevia is part of the sugar substitute market. According to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) high-purity steviol glycosides, an extract of the stevia plant, is considered generally safe for use in food. On the other hand, the FDA stated that stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and do not have FDA approval for use in food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Americans added more sugar to their diet every year since the 1970s until 2000. When Americans dropped the added sugar, they turned to sugar- extracts.

The sugar substitute market was estimated to be worth $13.26 billion in 2015, according an analysis by Markets and Markets research firm. The firm projected that the market would reach $16.

5 billion by 2020.

Just 18 percent of U.S. adults used low- or no-calorie sweeteners in 2000. Now, 24 percent of adults and 12 percent of children use the sugar substitutes, according to a 2012 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Does stevia work?

Stevia has no calories, and it is 200 times sweeter than sugar in the same concentration. Other studies suggest stevia might have extra health benefits.

According to a 2017 article in the Journal of Medicinal Food, stevia has potential for treating endocrine diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, but that more research is needed.

Other studies also suggest stevia could benefit people with Type 2 diabetes, but Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration, says more research is needed. Her group reviews evidence on herbs and supplements.

“Available research is promising for the use of stevia in hypertension,” said Ulbricht. Ulbricht said Natural Standard gave stevia a “grade B for efficacy” in lowering blood pressure. 

A no-calorie source of sweetness is an obvious diet solution in theory. But a few studies show that replacing sugar with artificial or low-calorie sweeteners may not ultimately lead to weight loss in real life.

A 2004 study in rats found low-calorie sweeteners led the animals to overeat, possibly because of a mismatch between the perceived sweetness and the expected calories from sugar, according to the paper in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders. The author of that study later argued that people who use artificial sweeteners may suffer health problems associated with excess sugar, including metabolic syndrome, which can be a precursor to diabetes.

“A number of studies suggest people who regularly consume ASB [artificially sweetened beverages] are at increased risk compared with those that do not consume ASB,” Dr. Susan E. Swithers said in a 2013 opinion letter in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Yet there is also evidence that stevia does nothing to change eating habits or hurt metabolism in the short term. A 2010 study in the journal Appetite tested several artificial sweeteners against sugar and each other in 19 lean people and 12 obese people.

The study found people did not overeat after consuming a meal made with stevia instead of sugar. Their blood sugar was lower after a meal made with stevia than after eating a meal with sugar, and eating food with stevia resulted in lower insulin levels than eating either sucrose and aspartame.

Yet another study published in an issue of the International Journal of Obesity, Dec. 13, 2016, found that after eating no-calorie sweeteners, such as stevia, test subject’s blood sugar spiked much more than when they ate real sugar.

Though, when using a zero-calorie sweetener, the subjects didn't consume any more calories than when regular sugar was consumed.

“The energy 'saved' from replacing sugar with non-nutritive sweetener was fully compensated for at subsequent meals in the current study,” Siew Ling Tey, who was a study researcher and is at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore, said in a statement.

Is stevia safe?

As mentioned earlier, the question of whether stevia is safe to consume largely depends on what someone means by “stevia.” The U.S.

Food and Drug Administration has not approved stevia leaves or “crude stevia extracts” for use as food additives.

Studies on stevia in those forms raise concerns about the control of blood sugar and effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems, the FDA warns.

However, the FDA has allowed companies to use Rebaudioside A, an isolated chemical from stevia, as a food additive in their sweetener products.

The FDA classifies these products, such as Truvia, as GRAS, but, according to the FDA, these products are not stevia. “In general, Rebaudioside A differs from stevia in that it is a highly purified product.

Products marketed as 'stevia' are whole leaf Stevia or Stevia extracts of which Rebaudioside A is a component,” the FDA said. 

There are some health concerns surrounding the stevia plant. Stevia may cause low blood pressure, which would be of concern to some taking blood pressure medications. There is also continuing research going into certain chemicals naturally occurring in stevia that may cause genetic mutations and cancer.

“Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified health care professional, including a pharmacist,” Ulbricht said.

Stevia may also interact with anti-fungals, anti-inflammatories, anti-microbials, anti-cancer drugs, anti-virals, appetite suppressants, calcium channel blockers, cholesterol-lowering drugs, drugs that increase urination, fertility agents and other medications, Ulbricht said. People should talk with their doctor before deciding to take stevia in large amounts, she said.

Additional reporting by Alina Bradford, Live Science contributor.

Additional resources


Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

Stevia is a naturally occurring low-calorie sweetener. It may reduce high blood pressure and sugar levels, but the clinical evidence is limited. Scientists have also been researching its potential to protect the liver, kidneys, and more. Read on to learn the potential benefits, dosage, and safety of stevia and steviol glycosides.

What is Stevia?

Stevia was originally called Eupatorium rebaudiana bertoni in honor of Rebaudi, who was the first chemist to study the chemical characteristics of the plant’s extracts [1].

It was first used as a sweetener in herbal fusions by the Guarani people of South America, but Japan was the first country to market steviol glycosides in the food and drug industry.

Now, cultivation of the plant has expanded to other Asian regions China, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. The plant is a long-lasting shrub that is over 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar and has no calories [2, 3].

Traditional Uses

Indigenous people of South America, particularly in Paraguay and Brazil, have used stevia as a sweetener for hundreds of years. For example, the Gurani Indians of Paraguay have an age-old practice of using stevia to sweeten their Yerba Mate tea.

South American populations also have a long history of using stevia medicinally, as a tonic for heart problems, obesity, high blood pressure, and heartburn.

Stevia was first noticed by the outside world in the sixteenth century when Spaniards discovered the widespread use of stevia in South America.

In recent years, a growing need to find new, naturally sweet, calorie-free alternatives to sugar has led to greater interest in the “sweet herb” from nutritional researchers and commerce [4].


The best known natural products derived from stevia rebaudiana are glycosides such as stevioside (9.1%), rebaudioside A (3.8%), rebaudioside C (0.6%), steviolbioside (a.k.a. steviol), dihydroisosteviol (a.k.a. isosteviol), rubusoside, and dulcoside (0.3%).

Stevia consists of approximately 80 – 85% percent water, protein, fiber, fats, monosaccharides, essential oils, vitamin c, β-carotene, vitamin B2, and vitamin B1.

It also contains minerals cobalt, magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Certain antioxidant compounds are also elements in stevia.

1) High Blood Pressure

In a meta-analysis of nine studies and 756 participants, steviol glycosides caused a considerable decrease in diastolic (lower) but not systolic (higher) blood pressure. The results were most effective when observed over a long period of time [5].

On the other hand, they had no beneficial effects on high blood pressure patients in another trial [6].

Further research is needed to support the potential blood pressure-lowering effects of stevia and its components.

Insufficient Evidence:

No valid clinical evidence supports the use of stevia for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.

2) Diabetes

Components of stevia, rebaudioside A, stevioside, and steviol increases insulin secretion by stimulating pancreatic cells and improve insulin sensitivity [7, 8].

A study of 19 volunteers found that post-meal blood sugar levels were lower in stevia consumers than sucrose or aspartame consumers [9].

In a preliminary trial of 12 diabetes patients, steviol glycosides caused a significantly lower increase in blood glucose compared with a control. However, the researchers used corn starch as a control, which has a significant impact on blood sugar levels [10].

Stevia also increases insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion and protected the pancreas in animal models. For example, stevioside was found to increase insulin sensitivity in rats fed a high fructose diet [11, 12].

Another clinical study failed to confirm the benefits of steviol glycosides for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients. More studies are needed to clarify the conflicting evidence [13].

Animal and Cellular Research (Lacking Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of stevia for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.


Atherosclerosis is also known as hardening of the arteries.

Stevioside is able to reduce the occurrence of hardening of the arteries through multiple mechanisms.

It has the ability to inhibit the hardening of the arteries by reducing macrophages, oxidized low-density lipoprotein (ox-LDL), and fats. This reduces plaque.

Stevioside also proved to decrease the production of the inflammatory protein Nf-kB by increasing the production of Nfkbia [14].

Antiviral Activity

In test tubes, stevia has an inhibitory effect against non-human rotavirus infection [15].

In other experiments, stevioside decreased the average concentration of Sophora flavescens needed to get a result of 50 percent replication inhibition. In animals, the combination of Sophora flavescens and stevia cures severe diarrhea and intestinal lesions, caused by rotavirus, better than sophora flavescens by itself [16].

Anticancer Effects

Steviol, stevioside, and isosteviol were found to inhibit the formation of skin tumors in mice [17, 18].

In one study, mice treated with stevioside had a lower incidence of benign tumors (adenomas) in the breast. However, these changes are linked to the reduction in body weight due to caloric restriction [19].

Stevioside also had strong inhibitory effects on breast cancer cells in test tubes [20].

However, we can’t make any assumptions in the lack of clinical trials. So far, stevia and its compounds can’t be recommended for cancer prevention or treatment.

Lung Injury and Inflammation

In a study on mice, stevioside reduced lung damage caused by lipopolysaccharides by decreasing the wet-to-dry ratio in the lungs, pro-inflammatory cytokine production, and inflammatory cell migration into the lungs [21].

Fatty Liver

Stevioside, rebaudioside A, and steviol has an effect on the metabolic pathways that involve high-fat levels (lipotoxicity) such as deterioration (steatosis), hepatitis, and liver disease (steatohepatitis).

Obese and insulin-resistant mice were treated with stevioside, rebaudioside A, and steviol, and the results exhibited a significant decrease in liver steatosis levels [22].

Kidney Damage

According to one study in diabetic rats, stevia leaves could reduce the risk of oxidative stress and thus reduce kidney damage [23].

In another study, Stevia leaves were more effective than I-NNA (N-nitro-L-arginine) in managing diabetes-induced kidney disorders in rats [24].

Stevia Dosage and Safety

the published research, independent scientific experts in both the U.S and globally have concluded that stevia sweeteners are safe for people of all ages, and an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 4mg/kg body weight has been established [25].

The natural, whole stevia leaf has mostly been shown to be non-toxic and safe. Studies indicate that stevioside, the primary chemical that gives stevia its sweetness, cannot cause cellular changes or affect fertility [26, 27].

However, there was one study on male rats that found that consumption of a water extract of the stevia leaf lowered testosterone levels and sperm count. This result seems to be anomalous and probably due to the high levels of stevia used in the study [28].

While stevia has recently become widely used in many countries without indications of toxicity surfacing, its safety is still not adequately tested. This may explain why the FDA has not yet approved crude or whole-leaf stevia as a safe food additive.


People with bronchial asthma, atopic eczema, or an allergy to plants in the Compositae or Asteraceae families – such as chrysanthemums, marigolds, ragweed or daisies – are more ly to be allergic to stevia.

Possible symptoms include swelling and itching of the oral area, hives, GI pain, nausea, and vomiting.


Stevia Uses, Benefits & Dosage – Herbal Database

Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 1, 2018.

Scientific Name(s): Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni
Common Name(s): Azucacaa, Ca-a-jhei, Ca-a-yupi, Caa-he-é, Candyleaf, Capim doce, Eira-caa, Erva doce, Honey leaf, Honey yerba, Ka'a he'ȇ, Kaa jheeé, PureVia, Rebiana, Stevia, Sweet herb of Paraguay, Sweet leaf of Paraguay, Sweetherb, Sweetleaf, Truvia, Yaa waan


Stevia and its extracts contain sweetening constituents known as steviol glycosides that have been evaluated for their antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and antihypertensive effects. However, clinical trials are lacking to support any uses of stevia, except as a sweetening agent.


The acceptable daily intake of stevia is 4 mg/kg.

Note: 1/4 tsp of ground stevia leaves is equal to 1 tsp of sugar.

A standard stevia leaf infusion (1 cup taken 2 to 3 times daily) has been used as a natural aid for diabetes and hypertension.

Stevioside 250 to 500 mg capsules administered 3 times daily for 1 to 2 years has been used in clinical studies evaluating antihypertensive effects.

A dosage of 1 g of stevia leaf powder for 60 days was used in a small study of patients with type 2 diabetes to reduce postprandial glucose levels.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


Coadministration of stevia with drugs that inhibit organic anion transporter 3 (OAT3) uptake of stevia (eg, diclofenac, quercetin, telmisartan, mulberrin) may alter the renal clearance of stevia.

Adverse Reactions

No major adverse reactions have been documented.


Steviol glycosides have “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) status according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts do not have GRAS status and are not FDA-approved for use in food.


Stevia is a branched, perennial shrub indigenous to northern South America and commercially grown in Central America, Israel, Thailand, and China.

Lemus-Mondaca 2012, Taylor 2005 The plant can grow to 1 m in height; the leaves are 3 to 4 cm in lengthLemus-Mondaca 2012 and are used for their sweet taste.Taylor 2005 The stem is woody, and the flowers are small and white with a pale purple hue.

The fruit is a spindle-shaped achene. The plant does not tolerate cold weather, particularly temperatures below 9°C (48°F).Lemus-Mondaca 2012


Stevia was historically used by the Guarani tribe of South America to sweeten tea. Native Brazilians and Paraguayans used the leaves of the plant as a sweetening agent.

Europeans discovered stevia in the 16th century, and North American researchers began investigating its sweetening properties in the 20th century. Paraguayan botanist Moises Santiago de Bertoni described stevia in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

It was not until 1905 that the plant was officially named S. rebaudiana.Momtazi-Borojeni 2017 Eight glycosides responsible for the plant's sweetness (eg, stevioside, rebaudioside) were discovered in 1931 by the French chemists M. Bridel and R. Lavieille.

Bridel 1931, Carrera-Lanestosa 2017 Stevia extracts have been used in a few countries, including Japan and Paraguay, as a food and in medicine.


There are 220 to 230 species under the genus Stevia, but only S. rebaudiana and Stevia phlebophylla produce steviol glycosides.Ceunen 2013, Lemus-Mondaca 2012 The main glycosides of stevia include stevioside and rebaudioside. The glycosides have been analyzed by capillary electrophoresis.

Rebaudioside A and steviolbioside have been isolated by high-performance liquid chromatography methods.Mauri 1996 Stevioside determination has been reported.Mitsuhashi 1975 Two glucosyl transferases acting on steviol and its glycosides have been isolated.

Shibata 1995 Stevioside (6% to 18% in leaves) is the sweetest glycoside and was found to be 300 times sweeter than saccharose (sucrose) in one report.Samuelsson 1992 Stevioside contains 3 glucose molecules attached to an aglycone, the steviol moiety.

Lemus-Mondaca 2012 All steviosides contain a common chemical core known as diterpene steviol, which is the final product of bacterial metabolism in the colon.Magnuson 2016 Steviosides are water soluble, heat stable, nonfermentable, and pH stable.Ferrazzano 2015, Momtazi-Borojeni 2017 Steviol contains a hydrophobic ring and a negative charge in the carboxylic group.

Carrera-Lanestosa 2017 Steviol hydroxylation has been reported.Kim 1996 Sterols in stevia include stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, and campesterol.D'Agostino 1984 Isolation of the principal sugars of stevia has also been reported.Aquino 1985 The leaves of stevia contain essential fats, tannins, and flavonoids, which are associated with a bitter aftertaste.Momtazi-Borojeni 2017

Stevia also contains certain vitamins (A, B, C), minerals (iron, zinc, calcium), electrolytes (sodium, potassium), proteins, and other elements.

Lemus-Mondaca 2012, Taylor 2005 Additionally, it contains 9 essential amino acids (glutamic acid, aspartic acid, lysine, serine, isoleucine, alanine, proline, tyrosine, and methionine) and 6 fatty acids (palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acids).Momtazi-Borojeni 2017

Cultivation studies have been performed,Mitsuhashi 1975, Miyazaki 1978 as well as tissue culture experiments.Handro 1977

Uses and Pharmacology

Stevia has been used as a natural sweetener.Taylor 2005 The plant contains sweet ent-kaurene glycosides,Kinghorn 1984 with the most intense sweetness belonging to the species S. rebaudiana.Soejarto 1982 Stevia has been evaluated for sweetness in animal response testing.

Jakinovich 1990 Stevioside, considered a high-intensity sweetener, has been reported to taste between 200 and 300 times sweeter than a sucrose 0.4% solution on a gram-for-gram basis.Brambilla 2014, Magnuson 2016 Approximately 80 to 125 mg of stevia would replace 25 g of sugar.

Magnuson 2016 Stevia, a low-calorie natural sweetener, is used as a weight-loss aid to satisfy sugar cravings. In Japan, which is the largest consumer of stevia leaves, the plant is used to sweeten foods such as soy sauce, confections, and soft drinks, and as a replacement for aspartame and saccharin.

Taylor 2005 Several animal and clinical studies examining the pharmacologic effects of stevia have used different stevia glycosides, which may contribute to conflicting study results. In addition, some earlier studies did not specify the glycoside content used.

Stevioside appears to have more pharmacologic effect than commercially available sweeteners that primarily contain rebaudioside A.

The stevia plant may have cardiotonic actions, which normalize blood pressure and regulate heartbeat.Taylor 2005 The plant displayed vasodilatory actions in both normotensive and hypertensive animals.

Melis 1996 Stevia has also produced decreases in blood pressure and has increased diuretic and natriuretic effects in rats.Melis 1991, Melis 1995 A study of stevioside in dogs indicated hypotensive effects.Liu 2003 However, a study with rebaudioside A indicated no effect on blood pressure in rats.

Dyrskog 2005 Findings from an in vitro study suggest that isosteviol may inhibit angiotensin-II cell proliferation.Wong 2006

Data regarding antihypertensive effects of stevioside are conflicting. Several studies in normotensive and hypotensive patients indicate that rebaudioside A has no effect on blood pressure.

Barriocanal 2008, Maki 2008, Maki 2008 However, a decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure was observed in patients with hypertension when given stevioside 250 mg 3 times daily for 1 year.Chan 2000 In another study, stevioside administered at a dosage of up to 15 mg/kg/day for 6 weeks did not decrease blood pressure compared with placebo.

Ferri 2006 In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 168 Chinese men and women, the effects of stevioside (500 mg 3 times daily for 2 years) on mild essential hypertension (defined as systolic blood pressure 140 to 159 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure 90 to 99 mm Hg) were assessed.

Significant reductions in mean systolic blood pressure (from 150 [standard deviation, 7.3] to 140 [6.8] mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (from 95 [4.2] to 89 [3.2] mm Hg) compared with baseline (P


Stevia: Health benefits, facts, and safety

Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.

Stevia is an intensely sweet-tasting plant that has been used to sweeten beverages and make tea since the 16th century.

The plant is originally native to Paraguay and Brazil but is now also grown in Japan and China. It is used as a non-nutritive sweetener and herbal supplement.

A non-nutritive sweetener is one that contains little to no calories. Stevia is used as a healthful alternative to added sugar in many meals and beverages.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the marketing of stevia as a food additive in 1987. However, stevia regained its status as a sweet, sustainable dietary ingredient in 1995. The sweetener has since soared in popularity, with a 58 percent boost in new products that contain stevia.

This breakdown looks at the characteristics, uses, health benefits, and side effects of stevia, as well as considering its overall safety.

  • 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.
  • It 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.

Share on PinterestStevia is an intense natural sweetener.

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. It 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:

  • stevioside
  • rebaudiosides A, C, D, E, and F
  • steviolbioside
  • dulcoside A

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 it is purified, often carries a bitter taste and foul smell until it is bleached or decolored. It 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:

  • Enliten
  • PureVia
  • Rebiana
  • Stevia
  • Steviacane
  • Stevia Extract In The Raw
  • SweetLeaf

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.

1) Diabetes

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

Share on PinterestStevia can replace sugar in a diet to manage weight.

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. It 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.

6) Allergies

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 unly 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 unly to cause an allergic reaction. No cases of allergic reaction to stevia have been recorded since 2008.

Share on PinterestHigh-purity stevia extract is approved for consumption by the FDA and a number of other regulatory bodies.

Safety studies have marked stevia extract as free of side effects.

While purified steviol glycosides can be added to foods and are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration, the same is less true of whole leaf stevia. However, the stevia plant itself may be grown at home, and the leaves can be used in a variety of ways.

It was originally thought that stevia poses a danger to kidney health. A study on rats carried out since then suggests that stevia leaves in supplement form may instead possess qualities that protect the kidneys and reduce the impact of diabetes.

Current research also suggests that it is safe to consume the recommended amount of sugar substitute or less while pregnant.

Some stevia products also contain sugar alcohol. People with sensitivity to sugar alcohol may experience bloating, abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, though one type of sugar alcohol, erythritol, poses less risk of symptoms than others.

As long as stevia is highly-purified and used in moderation, it will not cause side effects and can be consumed worry-free.

In the U.S., stevia sweeteners are primarily found 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:

  • ice cream
  • desserts
  • sauces
  • yogurts
  • pickled foods
  • bread
  • soft drinks
  • chewing gum
  • candy
  • seafood
  • prepared vegetables

In 1991, the FDA refused to approve stevia as a sweetener as an additive in foods. However, in 2008, after the purification process was developed and patented by Coca-Cola, the FDA approved the stevia extracts as GRAS.

Multiple global regulatory bodies have now determined that high-purity stevia extract is safe for consumption by the general population within the recommended levels, including children. Governing bodies have established an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 4 milligrams per kilogram (kg).

These organisations include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the FDA.

Stevioside was found to be nontoxic in acute toxicity studies. These studies used a variety of laboratory animals. No major contraindications, warnings, or adverse reactions have been documented.

The steviol glycosides in stevia meet purity criteria established by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), indicating that stevia sweeteners are safe for use by individuals with diabetes.

The majority of scientific research on stevia uses high-purity stevia extracts. Crude stevia extracts were used in some studies from the past instead of high-purity extracts, which skewed the availability of accurate information.

The stevia plant is regulated not by the FDA but by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The lack of a GRAS status by the FDA does not mean the stevia plant is inherently dangerous.

In fact, the plant can be purchased from a variety of gardening sources in the US, grown at home, and consumed in a variety of ways, as it has been for centuries in other countries.

The potential health benefits of stevia require further study before they can be confirmed. However, be confident that stevia is safe to consume and is an ideal alternative to sugar when looking for that extra boost of sweetness.

A range of stevia products is available for purchase online.


Stevia plant (herb) nutrition facts and health benefits

Health Benefits of Stevia + Dosage & Safety

  • Stevia extract has been in use by native South Americans (where it is known as caa-he-éé or kaa jheéé)to reduce weight; to treat wound infections, inflammatory conditions, swelling in the legs and as a tonic to treat depression.

Fresh stevia leaf.

At its natural habitat, stevia plant leaves are harvested by hand picking as and when required.

However, most of the stevia that made available in the markets is grown under greenhouse or at least in supervised farming.

If you grow your own stevia plant in the backyard, pick up leaves with a short petiole for use. In general, fresh leaves can be sundried, powdered and stored in an airtight container for future use.

To store, place it in cool, dark, humid-free place the one you do it for other dried herbs such as oregano,where it will stay fresh for several months.

Dried stevia leaves.
Stevia sugar (Rebaudioside-A).

Farm fresh stevia plant leaves can be used directly in drinks as a sweetener. However, most often its dried powder/refined stevioside/ stevia syrup are being used in the cooking.

Remember to use dried stevia sugar in small proportions, as it is nearly 30 times sweeter than cane sugar. Roughly, one teaspoonful ofdried leaves powder is equivalent to one cup of sugar; therefore, use it in small quantities adjusting the amount to achieve your desiredlevels of sweetness.

You can also make stevia syrup by adding a cup of hot water to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely-crushed leaves.This mixture isallowed to settle down for 24 hours, filtered, and then refrigerated.You may also want to buy stevia sugar rebaudioside-A which is a white, crystalline powder, approximately 300 times sweeter than canesugar.

Here are some serving tips:

  • In Japan and many East Asian regions, stevia plant parts are being used to sweeten tea, sweets, sauce, confectionary, and soft drinks.

  • Stevia extracts are further refined for use as table sugar. It can then be added to jam, yogurt, ice creams, smoothies, desserts, chewing gum, and sorbets and also to sweeten bitter medicines.

  • In Brazil, it is used as a remedy to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, stress conditions…etc.

Stevia plant and its processed products are not being used in the European Union countries for their suspectedmutagenic effects. In the USA, stevia leaf and its extract are limited to use legally as a dietary supplement. However, the use of rebaudioside-A, aprocessed stevia glycoside, is allowed in many of these countries.

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) observed the following statement regarding the use of steviaplant: “stevioside and rebaudioside A are not genotoxic in vitro or in vivo and that the genotoxicity of steviol and some of its oxidativederivatives in vitro is not expressed in vivo.”[2]

In conclusion, stevia and its products are being used in some advanced countries Japan and for centuries by Guaranitribes of South America and found to be harmless for human consumption even in pregnancy. (Medical disclaimer).

  • Stevia is the herb plant in the Asteraceae family. It is being used in some advanced countries as a safe low-caloriealternative, especially in restricted carbohydrate diets.

  • It has been safely used by Guarani tribes of Paraguay for centuries without any adverse effects; the fact which is endorsed recently by WorldHealth Organization.

  • Further, stevia has many natural antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and control diabetes.

  • Stevia can be safely used during pregnancy and infants. (Medical disclaimer).