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Is Stevia Good For Diabetics?

Is Stevia Good For Diabetics?

If you have diabetes, your doctor has most likely explained the importance of avoiding sweets whenever you can. After all, the goal of the care is to keep your blood sugar levels within the target range. But, sometimes, cravings for some sweetness kick in. In those instances, you probably reach for artificial or natural sweeteners, such as stevia. But, is stevia good for diabetics? Here are 7 facts you must know.

1. Stevia comes from a plant

One of the first appealing things about stevia is that it comes from a plant. It is derived from the extracts of the plant called Stevia rebaudiana.

Stevia sweeteners contain steviol glycoside, which is about 10 to 15 times sweeter than sucrose. The reason why it is a “zero calorie” ingredient is that our body doesn’t metabolize steviol glycoside, hence, we don’t get calories from it.

2. Stevia doesn’t significantly affect blood sugar levels

Is stevia good for diabetics?

One of the reasons why stevia may be a good sweetener for diabetics is because it doesn’t significantly affect blood glucose1.

Experts reiterate that “stevia preparations used in relatively small amounts” have no significant effect on sugar levels.

3. Stevia may even improve glucose tolerance

Another good thing about stevia? It may improve our glucose tolerance or the way our body responds to sugar.

One study in Brazil noted that taking stevia preparations at a 6-hour interval for 3 days significantly improved glucose tolerance1.

However, while this is good news, particularly for people taking insulin, the study in question only involves 16 participants.

Hence, unless your doctor gives you the go signal to always use stevia, please incorporate it sparingly.

4. This natural sweetener may reduce blood sugar

Another thing that can answer our question, “Is stevia good for diabetics?”, is its potential to reduce blood sugar levels.

A 2018 study checked the effects of eating stevia-sweetened coconut jelly 30 to 120 minutes after eating it. They checked the sugar levels at half an hour intervals.

The researchers revealed that the blood sugar level started to decrease at 60 to 120 minutes even before the release of insulin2.

5. It doesn’t affect the lipid profile of type 2 diabetes patients

A small-scale study noted that stevia doesn’t affect the blood sugar levels, and it also doesn’t appear to affect the lipid profile of type 2 diabetics3. This further seals the conclusion that stevia can be a good sweetener for diabetics.

6. Some manufacturers blend stevia with other sweeteners

Because stevia may leave a bitter aftertaste, some manufacturers blend it with other sweeteners, such as sucrose, dextrose, natural flavors, and sugar alcohol.

Adding other sweeteners or ingredients may increase the calorie content of stevia. Hence, if you’re trying to avoid certain sugars, please inspect the list of ingredients first. Also, be careful with sugar alcohol, such as mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol, as they can affect your blood glucose.

7. It helps in your goal to lose weight

Is stevia good for diabetics?

Since stevia does not contribute to your caloric intake, it can assist you in your goal to manage your weight. And if you’re a diabetic, you understand that weight management is essential in glucose control.

Reminders

Is stevia good for diabetics? It may be, considering it doesn’t appear to affect blood glucose and lipid profile. On top of that, it also appears to be a good ingredient if you’re trying to lose weight.

Still, stevia should not be consumed in large amounts as it may no longer be beneficial. Also, you have to check the ingredients of the foods you’re eating: they, too, might contain stevia or other artificial sweeteners.

If you have concerns about how much you can take, please consult your doctor.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Stevia, https://www.diabetes.co.uk/sweeteners/stevia.html, Accessed May 19, 2022

Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900484/, Accessed May 19, 2022

Effects of stevia on glycemic and lipid profile of type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized controlled trial, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7103435/, Accessed May 19, 2022

Sweeteners: Classification, Sensory and Health Effects, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123849472006772, Accessed May 19, 2022

Can I use artificial sweeteners if I have diabetes?, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/artificial-sweeteners/faq-20058038, Accessed May 19, 2022

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated May 23
Fact Checked by Kristel Lagorza