Stevia Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Stevia, annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

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Stevia is a popular sugar substitute that is derived from the stevia plant called Stevia rebaudiana, which is native to South America. Stevia is plant-based, has zero calories, and is 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. This substitute is often used by those looking to decrease sugar and calories in their diet.

Researchers have discovered that the sweetener is not absorbed in the digestive tract and is mostly used by gut microbes for energy. And, there is much debate over the safety of stevia for commercial and everyday use.

Stevia's absorption, metabolism, and excretion have been extensively researched by experts and all major scientific regulatory bodies have determined that stevia is safe for general consumption. With zero calories, stevia is a great option for sweetening coffee or tea, adding to oatmeal, yogurt, or baked goods.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 teaspoon (.5 grams) of stevia

  • Calories: 0
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

There is about one gram of carbohydrates in 1 teaspoon of stevia. Consumers may use more than this in their drinks, food, or baked goods.

This amount is significantly less than the number of carbohydrates regular sugar provides and will not contribute greatly to overall carbohydrate intake. Stevia is a good option for those needing to control blood sugar as stevia will not spike blood sugar when consumed.

Fats

Stevia provides zero grams of fat.

Protein

There is no protein in stevia.

Micronutrients

Stevia is not a significant source of micronutrients. Be sure to include a wide variety of foods in your diet for adequate micronutrient intake.

Health Benefits 

Because stevia contains no calories or carbohydrates and does not cause a spike in blood sugar levels, many people with type 2 diabetes look to stevia as an option. Additionally, stevia may offer other health benefits as well. Here are some potential health benefits of stevia.

Helps Regulate Blood Sugar

The most common use for stevia is for those with diabetes who need to regulate blood sugar. Because stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener, it does not contain calories or raise blood sugar, making it a suitable sugar substitute for people with this condition. Stevia is thought to have hypoglycemic properties, resulting in lower insulin and glucose levels when consumed.

Stevia may also provide better glucose control when compared to aspartame, and artificial sweetener. Although studies show stevia is promising in diabetes management, more studies are needed to confirm its benefits.

May Assist in Weight Management

Because stevia contains zero calories, it can be a useful tool for adding a sweet taste to foods without extra calories. However, research conducted for weight management has mostly been done in rats and in vitro and requires robust research to be conclusive. Theoretically, stevia could be helpful with weight management when combined with a balanced diet and exercise.

May Promote Oral Health

Stevia has been found to interact differently with the bacteria in the mouth, decreasing the acidity and resulting in less bacterial and cavity formation. One study examined the changes in salivary pH when drinking tea sweetened with regular sugar, tea sweetened with stevia, and an unsweetened control group.

One hour after tea consumption, the pH of the sucrose group was lower, meaning more acidic, than that of the stevia group. The results of this study suggest stevia use may be effective at preventing cavities and bacterial formation in the mouth.

Helps Regulate Blood Pressure

Stevia consumption has shown positive decreases in blood pressure in those with hypertension. In a 2020 collection of studies reviewed, stevia was found to reduce blood pressure in about 850 people. The mechanism is similar to blood pressure medication Verapamil.

Stevia is found in many grocery stores in either liquid or powder form. Look for it in the baking section near other forms of sugar. You may find stevia under the brand names Truvia or Pyure.

Because stevia is 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar, you need to use less stevia when using it in place of sugar. One tablespoon of sugar is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon of stevia.

Stevia is great for baking. It is able to withstand high heat and is freezer-stable. You can substitute stevia for all or part of the sugar in your recipe. Substitute 1 cup of sugar with 1/2 teaspoon of stevia powder.

Allergies

Stevia is in the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family, which also includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, and daisies. Those with allergies to this family of plants may also be sensitive to stevia. If you are concerned you have an allergy to stevia, talk to a healthcare provider.

Adverse Effects

Some people who use stevia experience bloating, nausea, dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness. The Food and Drug Administration approved stevia for use as a food additive and deemed stevia to be "generally recognized as safe" or GRAS.

There is no evidence that stevia is unsafe for human consumption. The World Health Organization has set acceptable daily intake to 4 milligrams per kilogram of weight.

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7 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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