Today, many people are raving about Stevia and its various benefits, particularly as a replacement for sugar. However, not all have had a pleasant experience while using it and some side effects have been reported. Many studies have been done to know more about Stevia, but they aren’t enough to completely know whether it is truly beneficial or harmful. What then are the supposed dangers and disadvantages of using Stevia sweetener?
Possible Risks of Consuming Stevia:
This generally applies to the white powder form of Stevia. To extract the sweetness of the Stevia plant’s leaves, they are dried first. They then undergo a water extraction process, after which, manufacturers usually use methanol or ethanol to reduce the Stevia extract down to its sweetest part. Such chemicals are not meant to be part of a healthy diet as they have toxic effects on the human body. In addition, the final product may also be filled with dextrose or erythritol, decreasing the actual amount of Stevia contained within.
When used in baking, Stevia doesn’t have the bulk that sugar has. It can also make your baking goods turn into baking disasters, especially if you overuse it. You may notice a bitter aftertaste, which does not go well with products that are baked. It’s best to find a proper Stevia-sugar conversion rate to avoid ruining your baked goods.
Effects on Contraception and Fertility
Rodents, particularly rats and hamsters, were used to study if Stevia affects the reproductive system. In 1968, it was reported that there was decreased fertility in female rats that were fed with Stevia. This kept decreasing for two months until fertility eventually ceased. In another study, testosterone levels and sperm concentration of male rats decreased, and there were other testicular abnormalities. However, in both cases, counter studies have reported that stevia had no effect on the fertility, mating, and overall health of the animals tested. As a precaution, if you’re planning on conceiving, it will be best not to consume it at all.
Pregnant rats and hamsters were used to find out whether Stevia had an effect on pregnancy. Gradually increasing the dosage, it was later found out that the offspring they produced became fewer and had lower weight at birth. Although pregnant women have yet to be tested, it would be safer to simply not use Stevia during pregnancy because of its unforeseen effects on the growing baby and the mother.
As with the studies about Stevia’s contraceptive properties, its effects on the kidney also have varying reports. Some studies have claimed that ingesting huge amounts of Stevia sweetener within a long period of time can inflict damage on the kidneys. At the same time, there are also reports of the benefits of Stevia to the kidneys.
Blood sugar fluctuation
Studies have suggested that Stevia can decrease the body’s blood sugar levels. As to how much, there has been no conclusive study yet. Therefore, people with diabetes should be careful when using Stevia instead of sugar. If you have diabetes or hypoglycaemia, strictly monitor your blood sugar levels if you still continue to use Stevia.
Blood pressure alteration
People with hypotension (low blood pressure) should also be cautious when using Stevia as they may experience even lower blood pressure. Regularly check your blood pressure and if there are drastic changes, it is advisable to stop using Stevia.
Stevioside is the natural sweetener extracted from the Stevia plant. Some studies have claimed that it has the potential to mutate human DNA, which can cause cancer. However, it was also pointed out that these studies were questionable due to the flaws of obtaining the supposed mutagenic compound from Stevioside. It has still yet to be established that its conversion into a carcinogen can happen in the human digestive tract.
Other Side Effects of Stevia
Some people have reported experiencing certain unpleasant side effects and allergic reactions. These include bloating, dizziness, headaches, mild muscle pain, and numbness. Others have experienced being nauseated. All of these side effects, however, last for just a short period of time.
Overall, the potential damage that Stevia can cause is still inconclusive. Even if there are studies that report certain unwanted effects, there are also studies that support the benefits of Stevia. It is up to you to determine if it will work well for you. When in doubt, you can always consult a doctor first to know if it’s okay for you to use Stevia. You can also practice moderation in consuming it, just to be on the safe side.
Category: Benefits & Dangers