The safety of artificial sweeteners has been a topic of debate for many years and many users want to know if there are any artificial sweeteners safe for long term use.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), artificial sweeteners are considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts, and many regulatory agencies worldwide have approved their use.
The FDA has set acceptable daily intake (ADI) levels for each of the approved artificial sweeteners, which represent the maximum amount of the sweetener that can be consumed daily over a lifetime without any adverse effects.
The Hype About Stevia – Are Any Artificial Sweeteners Safe?
The sweetener called Stevia has been hailed as the “ultimate” alternative sweetener, but few truly know the reasons for why there is a hype about Stevia. There appear to be at least 4 factors that account for the hype and these are discussed in the following sections below.
Comes From Natural Origin – Leaves
One of the main reasons for the hype surrounding stevia is its natural origin. Unlike other artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose which are synthetically produced.
Stevia is derived from a plant, and some people believe that natural sweeteners are healthier and safer than artificial ones.
Stevia is an artificial sweetener that has gained popularity in recent years due to its natural origin and zero-calorie content.
It is derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which is native to South America and has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener and for medicinal purposes.
It is often used to replace sugar in foods and drinks, as well as in cooking and baking. Many regulatory agencies worldwide have approved their use.
Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, with up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, so only small amounts are needed to achieve the same level of sweetness as sugar.
It is considered a non-nutritive sweetener because it contains zero calories, low glycemic index making it an attractive option for people looking to reduce their calorie intake or manage their weight.
This natural sweetener has also been associated with several potential health benefits, including the ability to lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce blood pressure. However, further research is needed to fully understand these potential health benefits.
Safety – Approved by FDA
Another reason for the hype around stevia is that it is generally considered safe and has been approved for use as a food additive by regulatory agencies such as the FDA. Note that some people may have sensitivities or allergies to stevia, and more research is needed to fully understand its potential health benefits and risks.
Overall, stevia is a popular sugar substitute that has gained a lot of attention for its natural sweetness and potential health benefits, and it is a good option for people who want to reduce their sugar intake or avoid artificial sweeteners.
Scientific Studies on the Safety and Uses of Stevia
There are several scientific studies on the safety and uses of Stevia. A few of them are listed and summarized below.
Comprehensive Review of Stevia as a Natural Sweetener
Kumar, M., Chandel, D., Singh, V., & Kumar, V. (2014). Stevia, a bio-sweetener: A review. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 51(11), 2827-2844. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-013-0978-y
This article provides a comprehensive review of the chemistry, biological activity, safety, and potential applications of stevia as a natural sweetener.
Toxicity of Stevia in Humans -Are Any Artificial Sweeteners Safe to Use?
Koyama, E., Kitazawa, K., Ohori, Y., & Izawa, O. (2019). Comparative metabolism of steviol glycosides in rats and humans. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 56(10), 4387-4395. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13197-019-03954-6
This study compared the metabolism of steviol glycosides, the sweet compounds in stevia, in rats and humans using a combination of in vitro and in vivo experiments.
It found that the metabolic pathway of steviol glycosides in rats and humans was similar, suggesting that rat studies can be used to predict the toxicity of stevia in humans.
Jeyashankar, G., Kumar, R. M., & Sridevi, V. (2017). Efficacy of stevia on plaque-induced gingivitis: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 21(3), 202-206. https://doi.org/10.4103/jisp.jisp_388_16
This randomized clinical trial investigated the efficacy of a stevia-based mouthwash in reducing plaque-induced gingivitis compared to a placebo mouthwash.
The study found that the stevia mouthwash was effective in reducing gingival inflammation and could be used as an adjunct to mechanical oral hygiene measures.
Geuns, J. M. (2003). Stevioside. Phytochemistry, 64(5), 913-921. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9422(03)00438-3
This review article provides an in-depth analysis of the chemical properties of stevioside, the primary sweet compound in stevia, and its potential health benefits.
Lower Glucose Levels
Anton, S. D., Martin, C. K., Han, H., Coulon, S., Cefalu, W. T., & Geiselman, P. (2010). Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite, 55(1), 37-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2010.03.009
This randomized controlled trial examined the effects of stevia on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels in healthy adults, compared to aspartame and sucrose.
The study found that stevia had no effect on food intake or satiety, but did result in lower postprandial glucose levels compared to sucrose.
Reduce Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure
Chan, P., Tomlinson, B., Chen, Y. J., Liu, J. C., Hsieh, M. H., & Cheng, J. T. (2000). A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 50(3), 215-220. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2125.2000.00260.x
This randomized controlled trial investigated the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. The study found that stevioside was effective in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and was well-tolerated by participants.
Conclusion – Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe to Consume?
In conclusion, the hype surrounding stevia is due to its natural origin, zero-calorie content, and potential health benefits.
While stevia is generally considered safe for consumption in moderation, it is important to consult a healthcare provider before consuming stevia or any other artificial sweetener, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.
Research has shown that when used in moderation, artificial sweeteners can be a safe and effective sugar substitute for people looking to reduce their sugar intake or manage their weight.
However, note that some people may experience side effects such as headaches, digestive issues, and allergic reactions, and this is why it is important to consult a healthcare provider before consuming artificial sweeteners.