While stevia’s use as a sugar substitute in ingredients is generally recognized as safe and FDA approved, it may have the following negative side effects.
Stevia is used as an artificial sweetener in many foods and beverages, such as tea and juices, and is likely safe for most people. However, some people have reported negative side effects, which include:
Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Stevia widens the blood vessels and helps lower blood pressure, which may benefit people with hypertension. However, its role in people with low blood pressure (with or without symptoms) is unknown. If you have persistent low blood pressure, speak to your doctor before you start using stevia sweetener.
Most of the studies that demonstrate the negative side effects of stevia on the body have been conducted on laboratory animals.
What are the possible benefits of using stevia?
Stevia is a sugar substitute (without any nutritional benefits) from extracted stevia rebaudiana plant leaves. Its use is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but whole leaf stevia plant and crude stevia extracts are not approved by the FDA.
You can substitute sugar for stevia as an ingredient in beverages, such as tea or coffee, or cooking and baking. It can also be used as a tabletop sweetener.
Some of the nutritional benefits of using stevia include:
- Regulation of blood sugar levels in diabetes: Because stevia does not affect blood sugars much, people with type II diabetes can use it in place of sugar.
- Weight loss: Stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener and contains zero calories compared with sugar, which has 16 calories in one tablespoon. Thus, stevia may be useful for you if you are trying to lose weight or want to maintain your current weight.
- Prevention of tooth decay: Stevia does not trigger tooth decay or dental cavities. Therefore, you may come across some oral hygiene products, such as mouthwash, that contain stevia.
- Improved taste: Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose and gives a pleasant taste to food and beverages.
What precautions should you take while using stevia?
Stevia has its pros and cons. While studies on stevia are ongoing, keep the following generally recognized tips in mind before using stevia:
- Risk of inadequate calorie intake: Growing children need adequate calories for their healthy growth. However, they may get inadequate calories by consuming stevia sweetened foods and beverages every day.
- Possibility of developing very low blood pressure: Evidence suggests that some chemicals in stevia can lower blood pressure, even if you already have low blood pressure.
- Doubt regarding its safety during pregnancy and lactation: No evidence proves that stevia intake is safe in pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, to be on the safe side, it is best to avoid the use of stevia while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Medically Reviewed on 9/15/2021
What is stevia? I’ve heard it’s good for weight control. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/stevia/faq-20057856
Sugar Substitutes & Non-Nutritive Sweeteners. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15166-sugar-substitutes–non-nutritive-sweeteners