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Is Stevia a Safe Sweetener? Health Benefits and Side Effects

Stevia is one of the most popular “natural” sweeteners, and it enjoys a reputation as a healthier sugar replacement.

However, just how good an option is it?

Moreover, is it safe?

This article takes a look at the research on stevia as a sweetener, from the health benefits to the risks and potential side effects.

 

What Is Stevia?

Stevia is a sweetener extracted from the Stevia rebaudiana plant.

The leaves of this plant contain sweet-tasting active compounds known as steviol glycosides. In fact, these compounds are anywhere between 150 and 300 times sweeter than sugar (1).

The most significant among these glycosides is a compound called rebaudioside A, and many sweeteners use pure extracts of this compound. The second glycoside is called stevioside.

Extracting these steviol glycosides from the plant’s leaves produces a concentrated, intensely sweet taste.

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