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Stevia Health Dangers: Hype or Fact?

Mar 2, 2010

Although stevia was only accepted for use in the United States in 2008, there has been plenty of controversy swirling around it for years. It's found in stevia plants and is generally produced as a natural sweetener that can be used as a sugar substitute, but there have not been enough studies done on stevia to reveal all of its pros and cons. That said, there is plenty of hype around the latest sweetener to take the nation by craze (both Coca-Cola and Pepsi now use stevia in some of their products) and it can be hard to tell whether using stevia is actually good for you or not. Here are just some of these hypes and facts surrounding stevia:

Hype: Stevia Is Unsafe

There are many risks associated with stevia, but there are also many benefits. For instance, stevia is safer than many artificial sweeteners and can help you to avoid diabetes. However, stevia has long been condemned by soft drink companies and other companies that use sugar substitutes, despite their side. The truth is that there's not enough known yet about exactly how stevia will affect your body over time. Because of that, it's hard to say that stevia is definitely unsafe for you to use.

Fact: Stevia May Cause Weight Gain

Stevia is drastically sweeter than sugar. In fact, it's up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. When you eat something that's that sweet, you actually trick your body into believing that there are calories coming. However, they don't come, because stevia does not contain any calories. As a result, you still feel hungry despite the fact that you've already taken in calories. This can cause you to overeat and, ultimately, gain weight.

Hype: Stevia Causes Cancer

During some early tests on stevia, researchers found that stevia may have carcinogenic effects on your body. They concluded this after testing stevia on lab rats. That said, there has not been enough long-term research on the effects of stevia on the human body. Therefore, it's not right to assume that stevia could cause you to get cancer. Other countries have also used stevia for many years and there has been no evidence that there is definitely a link between stevia and cancer.

Fact: Stevia Is All Natural

Though being "all natural" doesn't automatically make stevia any safer than any of the other sugar substitutes out there, stevia is grown naturally in places like Brazil. It has a rich history of being used to treat things like diabetes.

Deciding to Use Stevia

If you do not or cannot use natural sugar and want to find a sugar substitute that's right for you, there are plenty of them out there on the market. Stevia has its advantages, but like anything, it also has its risks. Don't get too caught up in the hype surrounding stevia, but don't forget to weigh your options before you start using it, either. Most importantly, continue to read up on new studies done on stevia to see if it's really the best thing for you to add to your diet.

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