Stevia

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Stevia
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Prevent blood sugar spikes
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Decreased appetite, weight loss
0 (Unclear Effectiveness)

PRO

  • Stevia comes from the plant Stevia rebaudiana. Three hundred times sweeter than sugar, stevia is a no-calorie product used to sweeten food and drinks.
  • Mixed with large amounts of erythritol, it is sold under the brand name Truvia®.
  • Stevia is used to confer a sweet taste while reducing sugar intake. When used in place of sugar it prevents blood sugar spikes. Stevia is considered safe for consumption and is used as a sweetener in drinks and baked goods.

CON

  • Although whole-leaf stevia and stevia extracts (stevioside) are sweet, they can have a pronounced bitter aftertaste. A highly purified form of stevia (called rebaudioside A or rebiana) is sweeter and less bitter than standard stevia extracts.
  • Some stevia extracts contain other components of the stevia leaf, which, in large doses, has been linked to abdominal fullness or nausea. These whole-leaf or stevia extracts are not FDA-approved. Purified stevia preparations, which lack these extraneous components, are approved by the FDA.
  • No clinical trials current exist to show a benefit for weight loss or decreased appetite. Stevia is not recommended for these purposes.
  • Patients with a history of low blood pressure should use caution when eating foods that contain stevia. Combining stevia extract with blood pressure medication may lower blood pressure to an unsafe range, and result in dizziness.

* *ADVISORY* *
Stevia may trigger release of excessive amounts of insulin from the pancreas and result in low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia. Individuals who take medications for treating blood sugar or blood pressure should use stevia only with caution.

DOSAGE: Sweeten to taste. Introduce to your diet gradually and observe your body’s response.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that stevia is a safe alternative sweetener to prevent blood sugar spikes. While it may have a role in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, there is still insufficient evidence to support its use for this indication. If you elect to try it, discuss your decision with your doctor, and observe carefully for adverse effects.


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