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Is Stevia Paleo?

By The Paleo Diet Team
March 18, 2014
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Is Stevia Paleo? I have attempted to find an answer for this and the information I've found is conflicting at best. Please advise!

Jeff

Maelán Fontes' Response:

Dear Jeff,

There's some scientific evidence to support the notion that Stevia is safe, even in type 2 diabetes patients.1, 2 Furthermore, it has been demonstrated to have antihypertensive properties, as shown by Chan et al.3 and a long-term study.4 Having said this, I am not aware of any study examining the potential antinutrient (lectins or saponins) content of the plant, hence we do not know the possible adverse effect of consuming this plant on a daily basis. Hunter-gatherers used to consume a wide range of plants, thereby minimizing the amount of a single bioactive compound ingested and its toxicity. It is known that rotating the kind of plants is a good strategy in order to decrease food allergy and intolerance.

From an evolutionary standpoint we should look at nutrition as "whole food" rather than nutrients per se. The bottom line is that Stevia seems to be safe, but we need more research to rule out possible side effects.

I hope this is helpful,

Maelán Fontes, MS, Ph.D., Candidate in Medical Sciences at Lund University, Sweden; International College of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

References

1. Gregersen S, Jeppesen PB, Holst JJ, Hermansen K. Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects. Metabolism. 2004 Jan;53(1):73-6.

2. Barriocanal LA, Palacios M, Benitez G, Benitez S, Jimenez JT, Jimenez N, Rojas V. Apparent lack of pharmacological effect of steviol glycosides used as sweeteners in humans. A pilot study of repeated exposures in some normotensive and hypotensive individuals and in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008 Jun;51(1):37-41. Epub 2008 Mar 5.

3. Chan P, Tomlinson B, Chen YJ, Liu JC, Hsieh MH, Cheng JT. A double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;50(3):215-20.

4. Hsieh MH, Chan P, Sue YM, Liu JC, Liang TH, Huang TY, Tomlinson B, Chow MS, Kao PF, Chen YJ. Clin Ther. 2003 Nov;25(11):2797-808. Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study.

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