Stevia is a renowned herb, it has been used as an artificial sweetener for hundreds of years. Stevia scientifically known as Stevia rebaudiana belongs to the sunflower family, Asteraceae. It has its origins in the Amambay Mountain region of Paraguay and is found in abundance in tropical and subtropical South America and Central America. The leaves of stevia are of economical importance to man as they are many times sweeter than the common sugar, and thus are an easy substitute for table sugar. The leaves contain certain glycosides the most essential of them being, stevioside. Stevioside is a pure white crystalline extract of stevia.
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Dangers of Stevia Artificial Sweetener
Stevia seems to be a natural choice for a sugar alternative, we cannot ignore the side effects of stevia. This article shall guide you on the side effects of stevia. These days stevia has gained popularity as the commercial sweetening agent for mass-produced and marketed food products instead of sugar. Food products such as low-calorie foods, diet sodas, bakery items, etc all contain stevia. But one has to take into account the side effects of stevia. In countries like, Japan and Korea, which popularized the use of stevia in place of sugar, it represents 40% of the sweetener market. However, countries like the United States of America are wary of using it as a commercial sweetening agent, stevia has still not been approved by the FDA commonly known as the Food and Drug Administration. This is because of the side effects of stevia. Toxicologists after having performed extensive researches on stevia have expressed concern over its toxicity. It has been observed that extensive consumption of stevia affects the metabolism of animals. Stevioside, a glycoside found in stevia adversely affects the absorption of carbohydrates in animals, thereby causing trouble in energy metabolism.
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Stevioside hampers the conversion of food into energy in animals. Some other mild side effects of stevia which are Headaches and nausea, are experienced after consuming stevia. Consumption of stevia could lead to some probable medical problems, these are the serious side effects of stevia. After conducting extensive research and experimentation on rats, scientists in Europe concluded that stevia has adverse side effects on the reproductive systems of both males and females. High doses of stevioside, when constantly fed for two years resulted in a decrease in the sperm production of males, it also caused a decline in the weight of seminal vesicles. When steviol, a derivative of stevioside, was fed to healthy female hamsters, the offsprings produced were fewer in number and very weak. The scientists thus concluded that excessive consumption of stevioside could easily lead to infertility. Some other side effects of stevia include its potential for causing cancer. In the controlled conditions of a laboratory, stevioside derivative steviol has been successfully converted to a genetically mutated compound, capable of causing cancer. The only hitch in all these experiments conducted by scientists is that it cannot be concluded for sure whether the side effects of stevia are the same on humans.
However, there are some beneficial side effects that have been brought to light. Stevia is known to balance blood sugar levels in diabetics. it has been known to be the ideal sweetener for those aiming for weight loss as it reduces the craving for sweets. To date, there have been no lethal side effects of stevia on humans. Beneficial side effects of stevia also include its ability to aid digestion. Also, stevia is good for our dental health as it reduces cavities by reducing the growth of plaque. Stevia is also known to have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
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