Is Stevia Safe or Healthy?

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Is Stevia Safe or Healthy
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Is Stevia Safe or Healthy?

We all know that sugar isn’t healthy, especially in excess, but increased awareness about the problems with sugar consumption have led to the development and use of sugar substitutes.

Some of these substitutes are harmful, and some are beneficial alternatives. Most alternative sweeteners on the market are artificially created and have a host of side effects. Others, like honey or maple syrup, have slightly more health benefits than processed sugar but are still high in naturally occurring types of sugar such as fructose.

One sweetener that often gets lost amid the confusion is stevia…

What is Stevia?

Stevia is an herb, originally from South America, though it now grows throughout the world.

It is naturally very sweet and considered 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, but it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels like sugar and other artificial sweeteners do.

It has been used as a sweetener and medicinal herb in various cultures around the world for centuries but has only gained modern popularity in recent years.

Unfortunately, while stevia leaf (in fresh or dried form), is a natural herbal sweetener, many modern forms of stevia based sweeteners are powdered and processed. In fact, popular powdered stevia sweeteners go through dozens of steps during processing from bleaching to chemical alteration.

There are two compounds in stevia that are responsible for the sweetness: Stevioside and Rebaudioside A.

Rebaudioside A is most often extracted and used in stevia powders and sweeteners, but it is not usually the only ingredient. In fact, most stevia sweeteners on the market contain added erythritol from corn, dextrose or other artificial sweeteners.

Stevioside only makes up about 10% of the sweetness in stevia but also has the unusual bitter aftertaste that many people don’t like in stevia. It also contains most of the beneficial properties of stevia that are credited with the health benefits and is the most well studied.

Is Stevia Healthy?

To answer this question, it is important to differentiate between processed forms of stevia and the naturally occurring herbal form.

Stevia as the green plant that you can grow in your backyard or find as dried leaf or tincture form is considered safe and has even been studied and found to have health benefits.

Powdered and bleached stevia, though FDA approved, has not been studied and undergoes an extensive chemical process to reach its final white powdered form.

Benefits of Stevia (in Natural Form)

Stevia as a medicinal herb has been used for centuries but has also been recently studied for its health benefits.

One double-blind placebo study found that regular consumption of stevia can help reduce blood pressure for patients with mild hypertension.

Another study found that stevia may have the potential to reduce breast cancer cell growth, though this hasn’t been extensively researched yet.

Follow up studies have uncovered potential benefits in reducing blood sugar and in avoiding other types of cancer growth.

In addition, most people who consume stevia use it as an alternative for sugar, and simply avoiding sugar can have health benefits of its own.

Risks of Stevia

Even in natural form, there are also some potential risks of using stevia.

It has an extremely sweet natural taste but doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. While this would logically be a good thing at first glance, there is a potential downside to this. The body expects a blood sugar change when consuming sweet foods. Some experts speculate that it might be stressful to the body when it expects a blood sugar rise and it doesn’t occur, though this hasn’t been proven.

Researcher Sarah Ballantyne also presents some concerns about the potential hormone-mimicking and altering effects:

There is evidence that steviol glycosides have contraceptive effects in both males and females. In particular, one specific steviol glycoside, called stevioside, has been shown to have potent contraceptive properties in female rats, implying that stevia may have an impact on estrogen, progesterone or both.

While small and occasional consumption of stevia likely has little to no impact on general health, it should not be consumed on a regular basis especially by those with altered hormone balance and dysfunctional immune systems.

The only studies I found on this hormone aspect indicated that extremely large amounts of the Stevioside part of the plant would be needed to affect hormone balance (and Stevioside only makes up 10% of the sweet compounds in the plant), so I don’t think this is a tremendous concern, especially for moderate or occasional use.

Even though studies show that only extremely large amounts of stevia would be needed to cause temporary infertility or hormone problems, I would still personally avoid stevia if I struggled with hormone problems or infertility.

Final Thoughts on Using Stevia

No human studies have ever shown any problems from pure and natural forms of stevia and dozens of studies have shown potential benefits from it.

Personally, I feel safe using stevia in leaf form or tinctures made from leaf form but avoid the white processed and powdered versions. It’s always possible to overdo things though, so I use it in moderation and vary it with other forms of natural sweeteners with a good safety profile (and taste!) like monk fruit extract or allulose sweetener.

In particular, the two forms of stevia I use are:

What do you think? Does your family use stevia?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


73 responses to “Is Stevia Safe or Healthy?”

  1. Jenn Avatar

    I recently purchased some LMNT electrolyte packets based on your recommendation in an email. I liked them very much, but I did notice they contain stevia leaf extract. I was wondering how often you consume and LMNT and if you only use the unfavored version to avoid stevia.

  2. Shell Avatar

    I noticed the one you referenced is not organic which is concerning? Are you recommending that sweet leaf brand because of their practices or simply based on taste?

  3. JENNY Avatar

    DO you think it’s safe for a kiddo to take a supplement that has stevia listed in the other ingredients section. I guess they use it to sweeten the powder. Do you think that would be safe for daily use? I’m very skeptical about stevia. Thanks.

  4. sarah Avatar

    Did your heart palpitations go away? Did they happen after exercise or eating? What were they like?
    How long did they take to go away

  5. Hali Avatar

    What are your thoughts on organic granular stevia and impact on health? What are thoughts on using organic granular stevia while breastfeeding?

  6. Carsten Avatar

    You describe the “powdered form of Stevia” as a possible concern, but is that the leafy dry material leafs beeing grinded?

  7. Rebecca Avatar

    Thank you for writing this blog post on stevia. As I read through the post and sources cited in the Benefits of Stevia (in Natural Form) section, I noticed that the compounds used in the research studies you cited were in fact purified forms of stevioside. To isolate these compounds, the stevia leaf had to undergo chemical processing and would no longer be in its “natural form.”

  8. Sue Avatar

    I’m interested in drinking hibiscus/stevia tea daily to address slightly elevated blood pressure and blood sugar issues. I am not currently on any medications. Has anyone else had any experience with this?

  9. Riri Avatar

    Thank you so much for these advice about sugar I am spreading the word and telling friends ??

  10. Jen Avatar

    What would you recommend for using the dried leaves in baking, ratio wise to one cup of sugar?

  11. Vivien Avatar

    It’s unfortunate that you are advertising for and have chosen to be affiliated with Amazon. This fact will determine my disrespect and disappointment for your site. Along with not visiting the site any longer. I suppose for you the path of least resistance is the most lucrative and tempting way. A little contradictory to your theme of advice don’t you think?

  12. Mimi Avatar

    The ONLY sweetener I use is 95% STEVIA extract (white powder). You only need a tiny bit to sweeten anything. By tiny bit I mean like, the size of 2 grains of sugar equal a whole teaspoon of sugar sweetness. I don’t like anything combined in my Stevial like maltodextrin, xylitol, erythritol, or any other sugar alcohol or substitute. Straight, Pure Stevia. I use it to sweeten coffee, tea, baked goods, and anything else I want sweet. I am diabetic so the stevia helps in that department. I don’t suffer any reactions to stevia that I can tell. No migraines, no blood sugar spikes, nothing. I do occasionally use honey or coconut sugar depending on the recipe.

  13. Abdullah Avatar

    Maybe better to avoid any artificial sweetener and switch with a small amount of suger until time to come with a form of artificial sweetener is truly safe.

  14. Zevia Avatar

    This is also why I am here. The ingredient list doesn’t specify where their stevia comes from. I hope it’s a safe choice..

  15. Jahn Avatar

    I can’t stand the taste of stevia and feel it ruins the taste of whatever it’s put in..


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