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Question:
What are the health benefits of stevia? Is it safe?

Answer:
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is generally promoted as a natural, non-caloric sweetener and an alternative to other sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal). It is sometimes promoted for lowering blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, and even as a treatment for Lyme disease, but the evidence behind these claims is weak, as explained in the full answer >>

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Teresa15620   October 2, 2017
I have no financial interest in any sweeteners, and I thought Stevia was great and used it for about six months until I noted my gait became different, odd. I immediately went online and found others who report similar side effects, most mentioning it causing leg problems. I stopped using it and still have a slight issue with my gait, but it is better. Stevia is not completely safe for everyone.

Mark15618   October 1, 2017
I have been using stevia for about 10 years to sweeten my coffee and Cheerios. I still consume cookies and pies, both of which are sugared. Before I started using the stevia, I had one dental cavity after another. For the last 10 years, I have had NO cavities. My dentist said ,"Don't tell anyone, it might be bad for business!

Al15592   September 27, 2017
I think ConsumerLab's analysis is pretty fair and accurate. I use very small amounts of stevia in the least-processed form I can find from my local natural foods store. It is a loose very fine (almost like talcum) dark green powder in bulk that I scoop out of a bin. I would avoid any brand-name stevia containing erythritol or dextrose which are most likely made from GMO corn. While getting any food product not grown in your own garden or locally, from its natural state to your kitchen involves a certain amount of processing, highly processed, modified, compounded, or enhanced products are not your friend. Doing online searches for "dangers of processed stevia" could give you more insight.

Sandy15586   September 27, 2017
I have been a consistent user of stevia for over 20 years. At first I found it to be bitter and had a hard time using it. However, after carefully adjusting the dose, I have learned to love it and know it is healthier for me and my family than most other sweeteners. When baking, I substitute coconut sugar for regular white or brown sugar and then augment it with a little stevia (because coconut sugar is not as sweet as regular sugar). Coconut sugar is much healthier because it has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar.

Paul B15575   September 25, 2017
Greetings all; Speaking anecdotally, I have had no bad reactions to any of the various forms of stevia I use (going on 16 years of daily use). On the rare occasion I have come across bitterness, a small pinch of either sea salt or Himalayan salt in the beverage has eliminated the bitterness (it is a delicate balance with bitter vs. salt; but once achieved, you taste neither). Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

ConsumerLab.com   September 25, 2017
Thank you for sharing your experience with this Paul. You may be interested in our CL Answer about Himalayan salt: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/Himalayan-salt-specialty-salt/

Susan15566   September 24, 2017
I find that stevia, besides tasting very bitter, also gives me horrific headaches. Neither I or my family have any financial interest in stevia or other competing product.

Julie15565   September 24, 2017
I have not found stevia to be accepted by my family's pallet as much as Xylitol (I have no financial interest in either product). I purchase the Xylitol made from birch trees as opposed to GMO corn. Other than the cost being prohibitive, I'm surprised many people I encounter are not familiar with it. Does anyone know of studies on xylitol's safety similar to those mentioned in this article on stevia? Thank you.

Donnie 15561   September 24, 2017
Thank you for this information. I am confused, however, about why the extract would be recognized as safe, but not the natural whole leaf it comes from? I grow Stevia and have been putting a few leaves into my salad straight off the plant. Would that not be advised?

ConsumerLab.com   January 25, 2018
Hi Donnie - Stevia leaf is not necessarily unsafe, but apparently no one has submitted documents to the FDA about the safety of plain stevia leaf or crude stevia extract, only companies selling pure stevia extract have done that.

This CL Answer initially posted on 9/23/2017. Last updated 1/25/2018.

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