Dangers of Stevia
Unlike with other well known sweeteners in the market, dangers of stevia are not certain and the results of studies aimed to provide evidence are not conclusive.
Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar, with much less reported or known side effects or dangers than common sweeteners such as aspartame. However it does not contain any sugar and is a very refined product, just like other sweeteners. It may be in the form of a white powder, green powder from dried stevia plants’ leaves and a clear liquid.
It is commonly used in Japan since the mid 1970s and also used in Brazil, China, Israel, Germany and Malaysia but was classified as an unsafe food additive by FDA in United States for about 20 years while it is simply a safe herb according to many scientists around the world, but why?
Well, apparently some big companies convinced Food and Drug Administration that stevia should be banned. What would happen to all those harmful sweeteners in the market if stevia was to become a very popular sweetener?
It could potentially mean a loss of billions of dollars to these companies. So the answer is ‘money’. Later on it was allowed to enter the market as a food supplement only, without stating anything about its sweetening properties.
Potential Dangers of Stevia:
Please note that any reported risk of this additive come up in case of regular over consumption. So it totally depends on how much you consume every day. If there are any potential dangers of stevia, you can possibly avoid them by moderate consumption. But moderation is not what most people will understand and they will probably indulge on stevia in their very sweet drinks and foods.
• Stevia may lower your blood glucose so you may want to be careful if you are a diabetic and watch your blood sugar levels after using this additive.
• Cancer risk is a possibility, without enough evidence to back up the claims. Toxicity trials by the Japanese constantly resulted in negative results. However one of the studies claimed that extreme use of stevia can cause DNA mutation, which may be linked to cancer. Genetic mutation was done with animals, and we don’t know if this will be the case with humans.
• Energy metabolism problem is seen more in children. In large amounts, stevia may block the carb absorption and this leads to inadequate amount of energy being produced or converted in the body, and it shows in the form of weakness and fatigue.
• Reproductive problems were observed as the sperm cell production was significantly reduced in male hamsters with high doses of stevia, this may not be the same for humans.
• Obesity: It can contribute to weight gain rather than helping you lose weight. Think about it, stevia is a substance 300 times sweeter than sugar and like sugar or sweeteners, it is not going to help you get rid of your sweet tooth or your habit of eating sweets. It may potentially boost your appetite and you will only crave for more sugar throughout the day.
• Gas, nausea, numbness, bloating, dizziness are among the mild side effects of stevia reported, but they are of short duration.
Benefits of Stevia:
No adverse reactions to stevia’s use have been reported by consumers and let’s also not ignore that it has been used by natives of South America continuously for many centuries without any known harm, but with some reported benefits instead:
• Stevia doesn’t have any calories or carbs and hundreds of times sweeter than sugar so you only need to use very little and it may assist you withweight loss if taken in moderation and if you are able to control your sweet cravings during the day.
• Stevia may help lower your blood pressure, which is great unless you already have low blood pressure.
• It may enhance your glucose tolerance and has some small effect onblood glucose.
• It may be useful as a digestive aid and is claimed to have antisepticproperties.