You might have noticed that stevia is being used more often as a no-calorie sweetener in beverages, yogurts, and natural food products.
As the authors of a 2010 review in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition have explained, stevia is a plant that has a long history of use as a sweetener and medicinal agent.(1)
When used in place of sugar and artificial sweeteners, stevia can be a part of a healthy diet.
Read on to learn about the benefits of this calorie-free sweetener.
Stevia is Safe?
While there have been some concerns that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose might cause cancer, stevia has been deemed to be safe.
In a review of the research analyzing the safety of stevia, scientists for a 2002 report in Studies in Natural Products Chemistry concluded that stevia is safe to use as a sweetener and is suitable for those with diabetes as well as those trying to lose weight.(2)
Researchers further noted that stevia has a very low toxicity and does not appear to result in allergic reactions.
Furthermore, while there have been concerns that other no-calorie sweeteners can cause cancer, some research has suggested that stevia can actually provide cancer protection.
In fact, a 2008 study in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research found that stevia leaf extracts could stop the spread of cancer cells.(3)
Blood Sugar is Lowered with Stevia
Stevia may assist with blood sugar control, and it could also be useful for patients with type two diabetes.
In a 2010 study in the journal Appetite, researchers divided participants into three groups.(4)
Before a meal, one group was given stevia; another was given aspartame, and the third was given sucrose.
After the meal, those given stevia had lower blood sugar levels compared to those given sucrose.
In addition, insulin levels were lower among the participants given stevia, compared to both aspartame and sucrose.
In 2004, researchers for the journal Metabolism studied the impact of stevia on patients with type two diabetes.(5)
Patients were given either a stevia supplement or a starch supplement with a standard meal.
Compared to starch, the stevia supplement reduced blood sugar levels by 18 percent after the meal.
Stevia is Useful for Weight Management
While sugar-sweetened beverages and food products add calories to your diet, stevia is calorie-free and can assist with weight loss and weight management.
In a 2015 study in the journal Nutricion Hospitalaria, researchers followed 486 college students and found that those who consumed stevia were more likely to be at a normal weight.(6)
As the authors of a 2012 report in the International Journal of Phytotherapy Research explained, stevia helps with weight loss and maintenance, as it is a non-calorie sweetener and decreases desires for sweets.(7)
Antioxidants Are Found in Stevia
Adding to its health benefits, stevia has been found to contain antioxidants.
In 2007, researchers for the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis evaluated leaves and extracts of stevia and found that they had antioxidant properties.(8)
Similarly, researchers for a 2007 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that stevia leaves prevented DNA damage.(9)
The researchers concluded that stevia could be a source of natural antioxidants.
Stevia Reduces Blood Pressure
Stevia can be useful for those who suffer from elevated blood pressure.
In a 2003 study in Clinical Therapeutics, men and women with slightly elevated blood pressure took either a stevia pill or a placebo pill three times a day for two years.(10)
Blood pressure was reduced significantly in those given stevia when compared to baseline levels, as well as compared to the placebo group.
Results showed that blood pressure was lowered about a week after the study started, and this reduction was maintained for the course of the study.
In a shorter-term study of individuals with high blood pressure, researchers for a 2000 edition of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology gave participants either a stevia pill or a placebo pill three times a day for a year.(11)
Those who were given stevia experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, which was maintained throughout the study period.
With stevia demonstrating an ability to reduce blood pressure and to provide additional health benefits, such as cancer protection, you can feel good about adding this natural sweetener to your diet.
Use stevia to sweeten coffee and tea, or add it to baked goods in place of sugar.
You can also buy beverages and food products that are sweetened with stevia.
By using stevia in place of other artificial sweeteners, you can protect your health while also reducing your calorie intake.
Researches and references