Have you ever wondered why Stevia, despite its natural origins, might not be the best sweetener for your health? Touted as a healthy alternative to sugar, Stevia has its hidden drawbacks that are often overlooked.
So, why is stevia bad for you? From unexpected allergic reactions to its impact on blood sugar, hormones and the microbiome, the truth behind this popular sweetener is more complex than meets the eye.
Add to that the potential digestive issues and the off-putting bitter aftertaste, and Stevia's downsides become hard to ignore. But what if there was a sweeter, healthier alternative without these pitfalls?
At Oobli, we've uncovered a solution that addresses these concerns, offering a genuinely better option. Dive into our exploration of Stevia's less-talked-about issues and discover how Oobli is redefining sweetness in a way that's kind to both your body and taste buds with sweet proteins!
A Brief Overview of Stevia
Stevia is derived from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana, which is native to South America. It has recently gained significant attention as a natural sweetener.
Stevia's sweetness comes from compounds called steviol glycosides, primarily stevioside and rebaudioside. These compounds are up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), yet they contain virtually no calories. This unique characteristic has made Stevia a popular choice for those looking to reduce their calorie intake without sacrificing sweetness.
As we’ll discuss in detail below, the journey from leaf to sweetener isn't straightforward. Stevia is cultivated primarily in China, Brazil, and Paraguay. The leaves are harvested, dried, and then steeped in water to extract the sweet compounds.
This extract undergoes several purification steps to isolate the steviol glycosides, which are then dried and milled into a fine powder or suspended in liquid form. Part of why stevia is bad has nothing to do with your health - but the effect of this process on the planet.
Globally, Stevia's acceptance as a food additive has varied. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the highly purified form of Stevia (rebaudioside A) as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), not the whole leaf or crude extracts.
Stevia is found in a wide range of products, from beverages to baked goods, often labeled as a 'natural sweetener'. Its popularity is due to its low-caloric profile and its plant-based origin, which appeals to health-conscious consumers and those with dietary restrictions. That being said, why is stevia bad for you?
Why is Stevia Bad For You?
Stevia, while a popular alternative to sugar, is not without its potential downsides. Below we delve into some of the concerns that have surfaced regarding its use.
Potential Allergic Reactions
Stevia belongs to the Asteraceae family, closely related to ragweed, marigolds, and daisies. For individuals with allergies to these plants, Stevia could trigger similar allergic reactions.
Symptoms can range from mild (such as skin irritation or itching) to more severe forms like swelling, dizziness, or even anaphylaxis in rare cases. It's crucial for those with known allergies to Asteraceae plants to approach Stevia with caution.
We talk more about the symptoms of stevia allergy in our blog if you’d like to learn more. Let’s look at another reason why Stevia is bad for you, though.
Impact on Blood Sugar and Hormones
One of Stevia's selling points is its minimal effect on blood glucose levels, making it a seemingly ideal sweetener for diabetics. However, some studies suggest that Stevia might influence the body's insulin response.
Though it doesn't raise blood sugar levels directly, it can act on pancreatic cells and potentially stimulate insulin secretion, which could affect blood sugar regulation in sensitive individuals.
Additionally, there's ongoing research into how Stevia might interact with other hormones in the body, warranting a cautious approach for those with hormonal imbalances or sensitivities.
While Stevia is generally recognized as safe for consumption, some individuals report digestive discomfort after consuming products containing Stevia.
Symptoms like bloating, nausea, and diarrhea, particularly when consumed in large quantities, have been noted. This reaction could be due to the body's response to certain glycosides present in Stevia or to other ingredients commonly found in Stevia-based sweeteners.
And we're also just learning about the changes Stevia can make in the gut microbiome, where longer-term studies are needed.
Potential Reproductive Effects
Studies have raised questions about Stevia's impact on reproduction. Some research indicates that high doses of Stevia could potentially affect fertility or other aspects of reproductive health.
However, it's important to note that these findings are not conclusive and are based on amounts significantly higher than what a person would typically consume.
The lack of comprehensive human studies in this area means that the potential reproductive effects of Stevia remain a topic of debate and ongoing investigation. That being said, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring it up on a conversation related to concerns of stevia.
The Taste Turn-Off: Health Risks Aside, Stevia Isn’t Even a Great Sugar Substitute!
When it comes to the taste of Stevia, opinions are sharply divided. A significant factor that often gets overlooked in discussions about Stevia is its distinct flavor profile, which can be a major deterrent for many. So, what does stevia taste like?
Stevia is known for its very specific taste that differs markedly from sugar. While it is intensely sweet, Stevia can leave a noticeable aftertaste that many describe as bitter or licorice-like.
This aftertaste is primarily attributed to the steviol glycosides, the compounds responsible for Stevia's sweetness. The sensitivity to this aftertaste varies among individuals due to genetic differences in taste perception.
For some, this unique flavor is an unwelcome addition to foods and beverages, significantly impacting the enjoyment of Stevia-sweetened products.
Another aspect where Stevia falls short is in its performance as a sugar substitute in cooking and baking. Unlike sugar, which caramelizes and provides texture and color to baked goods, Stevia doesn't behave the same way when heated.
This inconsistency can affect the outcome of recipes, making it a less versatile sweetener for those who enjoy home baking or cooking.
Understanding the Environmental Impact of Stevia
While Stevia is often praised for its natural origins, its environmental footprint deserves attention too. The cultivation of Stevia requires specific climatic conditions and can lead to land use concerns, especially in regions where natural vegetation might be cleared to make way for Stevia farms.
The environmental impact varies depending on the agricultural practices employed, such as the use of pesticides and water management. Sustainable farming practices are crucial to minimize the ecological footprint of Stevia production.
The process of extracting the sweet compounds from Stevia leaves is resource-intensive. It involves multiple steps, including steeping, filtering, and purifying, which consume significant amounts of water and energy.
Furthermore, as the majority of Stevia is grown in countries like China and Paraguay, the transportation of Stevia products to global markets adds to its carbon footprint. That’s why we want to wrap up this conversation with a quick overview of some of the better alternatives you can choose from.
What is a Better Alternative to Stevia?
The Problems With Other Alternatives: Aspartame, Sucralose, and Sugar Alcohols
Artificial sweeteners are found in a multitude of diet products. But, they carry their own baggage of concerns.
Aspartame, for instance, has been scrutinized for potential neurological effects and its unsuitability for individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU). We’ve talked about these effects of aspartame on the brain, is aspartame bad for your teeth, headaches from aspartame, does aspartame cause inflammation, aspartame withdrawal, and more.
Sucralose, while considered safe, can leave an artificial taste and has been questioned for its effects on gut health and glucose metabolism. So, is sucralose bad for your gut? How does sucralose vs aspartame compare?
Common sugar alcohols like xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol are marketed as lower-calorie sugar alternatives. However, they are known for causing digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea in sensitive individuals. Moreover, their impact on blood sugar levels, though less than regular sugar, is not negligible.
So, is erythritol bad for you? How does erythritol affect kidneys? Learn more in our blog, where you’ll also find articles on topics like drinks with erythritol and what to look for in an erythritol substitute. That being said, there is one great choice you can rely on: sweet proteins.
Introduction to Sweet Proteins: Better For You, Better for the Planet
Sweet proteins, derived from natural sources like certain fruits, represent an exciting and innovative category of sweeteners.
Unlike traditional sweeteners, these proteins, such as thaumatin and monellin, offer a powerful sweetness without the adverse health effects associated with sugar, artificial sweeteners, or sugar alcohols.
They do not impact blood glucose levels, making them an excellent option for diabetics and those monitoring their glycemic intake. They are also non-cariogenic, meaning they do not contribute to tooth decay. Their natural origin and the absence of calories make them a standout choice for health-conscious consumers.
Sweet proteins are efficient in their use, too. A little goes a long way due to their intense sweetness. This efficiency translates into a smaller environmental footprint in terms of production and transportation, aligning with sustainable food practices.
The question is, where can you find products powered by sweet proteins? The search ends right here at Oobli!
Taste the Difference Today at Oobli!
At Oobli, we're not just following trends; we're setting them. We've embraced the power of sweet proteins to bring you a range of products that are not only better for your health but also kinder to our planet.
Our products are designed to provide the sweet taste you love without the health and environmental drawbacks of other sweeteners. From our Oobli chocolate to sweet iced tea, there is something for everyone in our catalog.
Step into the future of sweetening with Oobli. Whether you're a fitness enthusiast, a health-conscious parent, or someone looking to indulge without guilt, our products are crafted to meet your needs. Taste the difference today and join us in this sweet, sustainable journey!
Wrapping Up Our Conversation on Why Stevia is Bad For You
So, why is stevia bad for you? It’s clear that Stevia, while a popular sugar substitute, carries its own set of issues - from potential allergic reactions and digestive discomfort to concerns about its taste and environmental impact.
The quest for a healthier, tastier sweetening option leads us to sweet proteins, a revolutionary alternative that sidesteps these drawbacks. At Oobli, we champion this innovation, offering products that are not just better for your health but also for the planet.
You can learn more about why is stevia banned, splenda vs stevia, how much stevia is too much, stevia while pregnant, drinks without aspartame, or the best drinks without sugar or artificial sweeteners, and more in our blog if you want to dive deeper.
Otherwise, embrace a sweeter, guilt-free future with Oobli. Discover the joys of sweet proteins and shop with us today!