Stevia, a natural sweetener derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, has gained popularity in recent years as a low-calorie and low-glycemic alternative to sugar. But what does the latest research say about its health benefits and potential risks? Let's take a closer look.
Blood Sugar Control One of the key benefits of stevia is its ability to lower blood sugar levels and improve glucose tolerance. This makes it a promising alternative sweetener for individuals with type 2 diabetes. In a recent study published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism, researchers found that stevia reduced blood glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Antioxidant Properties Stevia has also been found to possess antioxidant properties, which can help to protect against oxidative stress and cellular damage. In a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that stevia extract had higher antioxidant activity compared to other natural sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharin.
Potential Liver and Reproductive Effects While stevia has many potential health benefits, some studies have suggested that consuming high doses of stevia may have negative effects on liver and reproductive function. However, these findings are not consistent and more research is needed to confirm these potential risks. In a recent study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers found that stevia extract had no negative effects on liver function in rats.
Gut Health Some studies have suggested that stevia may have negative effects on gut health, including alterations in the gut microbiome and reduced gut barrier function. However, a recent study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that stevia had no significant effect on the gut microbiome in rats.
Final Thoughts While the latest research suggests that stevia may have several health benefits, including its ability to lower blood sugar levels and its antioxidant properties, more research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects on health. As with any dietary supplement or sweetener, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating stevia into your diet.
In conclusion, stevia is a promising natural sweetener with potential health benefits, but more research is needed to fully understand its effects on the body. Whether you are looking for a low-calorie alternative to sugar or simply want to try a natural sweetener, stevia may be worth considering. But as always, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet.