What the Heck Is Stevia? Part 2

Last issue, we covered the history of stevia and the four different versions of it that you can find today, including the mechanically-processed-not-so-natural- “stevia” that is Truvia (avoid this brand!).

But for less-refined stevia, the question remains: is it actually healthy? Or like any other calorie-free sweetener out there, is it detrimental to health?

Well, when I dug into the research, I was pleasantly surprised. Research in both animals and humans suggests this sweetener could actually be beneficial to health, particularly in regards to its beneficial effects on blood sugar.

In one Spanish study, researchers gave stevia extract to mice for four weeks and found that it did not significantly affect their blood sugar. The also tested it in humans and determined it has a low glycemic index, meaning that it doesn’t cause a high spike in blood sugar.[1]

At least three other animal studies have confirmed that stevia can help keep blood sugar levels healthy.

Then, I found another human study where researchers gave participants either stevia, aspartame, or table sugar (sucrose) and fed them a meal. The folks who got the stevia had less of an after-meal blood sugar and insulin spike, which helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes.

Even more impressive, stevia had a similar effect in people already diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.[2]

One important thing to note is that many of the studies showing positive results used only one glycoside from stevia: stevioside. So if you’re interested in using stevia for its blood sugar benefits, be sure to use a pure stevia powder or extract, not refined rebaudioside A.

Stevia is reported to also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and is considered nonacidic, so it shouldn’t contribute to cavities.[3]

And just a few months ago, researchers scanned all of the available literature and food allergy reports since 2008 to determine if stevia is a potential food allergen, since it is a member of the same family as ragweed. They found that neither food manufacturers nor food allergy networks have reported any significant number of adverse reactions to stevia.[4]

Overall, stevia appears to be a safe and potentially advantageous sweetener to use, but that’s with one caveat: Avoid the highly refined stuff, including Truvia.

Between processed food manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, time has proved again and again that when we mess with something from nature, our bodies react badly.

And while I do believe stevia is better than sugar (and certainly better than artificial sweeteners), I still advise to use it as a treat and in moderation.

You can get 100% natural, dried powdered stevia online from Mountain Rose Herbs. Some say the pure stuff has a bitter aftertaste, but I’m going to give it a try. As soon as my order comes in, I’ll be sure to report back.

If you want a stevia extract product that’s not likely to be as bitter, look for SweetLeaf brand. Its ingredients include only organic stevia extract and inulin, a natural fiber that may help feed good gut bacteria. Sweetleaf brand doesn’t use any solvents or enzymes to extract the sweet glycosides from their stevia.

If you have trouble with inulin (it makes some people bloat), try Stevita liquid stevia extract. It contains only stevia, distilled water, and grapefruit seed extract (a natural preservative). Vitacost.com is my favorite source for items such as this.

To living well,

Jasmine LeMaster

[1] Safety assessment of stevia rebaudiana bertoni grown in southeastern Mexico as food sweetener. Nutr Hosp. 2014 Sep 1;30(3):594-601.

[2] Potential Roles of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni in Abrogating Insulin Resistance and Diabetes: A Review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2013

[3] An in vitro and in vivo comparison of the effect of Stevia rebaudiana extracts on different caries-related variables: a randomized controlled trial pilot study. Caries Res. 2014;48(1):19-23.

[4] Steviol glycoside safety: are highly purified steviol glycoside sweeteners food allergens? Food Chem Toxicol. 2015 Jan;75:71-8.

Jasmine Lemaster

Written By Jasmine Lemaster

Jasmine LeMaster is head of quality assurance for Laissez Faire’s Living Well brand and is an integral part of their product research and development team. To hear more from Jasmine, sign up to receive Living Well Daily for free, here.

View More Free Articles

Easiest Way to Get Your 40 Winks

Dear Reader,  It’s hard enough to get a good night’s sleep – even good during good times!  But with all the news, politics, and the ongoing coronavirus… it is downright impossible to get your forty winks.    You might even find yourself tempted to grab an over the counter sleep aid.  But before you go buying one of these drugs that are riddled with side...

Read This

Is Your Prescription WRONG?

Dear Reader,  You make an appointment at your doctor’s office (which, let’s be honest, is no small feat in an “Era of Infection”).   You pass the temperature and the pandemic questions with flying colors.  You brave the waiting area, where any number of people might be infected and breathing viruses into the air…   Everything inside the exam room goes as planned. But there’s something all-too-common that could be happening when you leave – something you don’t expect....

Read This

“Healthy Habit” a Wrecking Ball for Your Heart!

Dear Reader,  Overall, you try to eat healthy, do well for yourself, and even exercise.   Maybe you even think about your heart health when you’re choosing food at a restaurant or the grocery store.   You try to get your fruits and veggies, order diet drinks instead of full-calorie sodas, skip the dessert on most occasions (we all have to splurge sometimes!), and focus on lean meats and whole...

Read This

[Breaking] A Source of Alzheimer’s Discovered?!

Dear Reader,  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the world.   You’ve probably heard that this degenerative brain epidemic is caused by a buildup of harmful plaque in the brain.   That much we know.   But why that plaque builds up in the first place is a source of heated debates in the medical community.   And now a new study suggests a key player...

Read This

The “Sweet” Solution to Lowering Your Blood Pressure!

Dear Reader,  It’s Thanksgiving. And while we’ve been living in some strange times, I hope you’re able to safely spend some time with your loved ones.   Incredibly enough, we’re cruising right into the holiday season. And while it’s a time of joy, thankfulness and family, many people also feel something else…  Stress. While we may not...

Read This

[Warning] An Air Pollutant Hiding in Your Home?!

Dear Reader,  When you think of air pollution, the typical culprits come to mind…  Automobile exhaust, factory fumes, cigarette smoke…  But have you ever considered one that’s hiding in your own home?   In fact, it could be in your house right now.  Here are the facts…   Maybe you are like my wife; whenever we have friends over, or when she wants to relax, she lights a candle.   She’s not...

Read This

[BREAKING] New Formula Holds Key to a Healthy Heart

Dear Reader,   If you’re over 50 I’m willing to bet there’s always one thing on your mind whenever you think about your health: Your heart.   And with good reason. Your heart is your body’s no. 1 life source. Each pump keeps everything working smoothly.    Which is even more reason why it’s crucial to keep it as...

Read This

Alzheimer’s: “Light” at the End of the Tunnel?

Dear Reader,  For decades, Big Pharma has been pouring millions into Alzheimer’s research.  And there hasn’t been a whole lot to show for it.   Sure, they’ve figured out that this devastating disease is caused by amyloid beta and tau proteins that attack your brain.   But none of their pricey, risky drugs can stop them from growing.  ...

Read This

Toxic Ingredient Ups Diabetes Risk?!

We all know that processed food is bad for us.   The mountains of refined sugar and cheap salt can make you gain weight… mess with your heart… and even impact your brain.   Now, it looks like these foods could be doing even more damage to your body.   Because researchers have found that a popular ingredient...

Read This

Kidney Stone Culprit Hiding in Your Medicine Cabinet?!

Dear Reader,  If you’ve ever dealt with the pain of a kidney stone before, you know they’re no joke.   So, when a good friend of mine had to repeatedly take their 15-year old son to the emergency room for kidney stones, you can imagine how concerned we all were.   Aside from the fact that, kidney stones are...

Read This