Stevia and Fatty Liver: Is It Good or Not?

Stevia has been around for a while and is considered a miracle sweetener and sugar substitute, especially for those suffering from fatty liver disease.

But, because nothing is easy or straightforward when it comes to MASLD (formerly NAFLD), a recent study actually showed that it might do more harm than good.

Today, I am going to talk about the studies that have been conducted and their findings – as well as share my personal story and experience with Stevia as a sweetener.

The goal is to give you all the information you need to make an educated decision: should you consume Stevia as a sugar substitute or skip it altogether.

Contradictory findings of Stevia research

Plenty of research has been conducted on this miracle sweetener, and all the original findings were more than encouraging.

Stevia was found to reduce fat levels and even fibrosis markers in fatty liver, therefore being considered safe and useful in the fight to reverse fatty liver. Using the natural Stevia extract showed improvements in the condition of those suffering from nonalcoholic fatty liver.

These findings came after a recent study was conducted in April 2020. You can read everything about it here. The main idea, though, is this:

  • Rebaudioside A (which is the Stevia extract) significantly improved liver function, reducing liver enzymes, hepatic steatosis, and hepatic fibrosis, compared to sugar consumption.

Other studies conducted by various other health experts and organizations had similar findings.

BUT there is one study in particular which hat completely opposite findings to the aforementioned studies. It is true, this one was made on mice – but that’s how most studies are done, at least in their initial stages.

You can read the entire study here, but the bottom line is that Stevia administration in mice increased their ALT and AST levels (which are two of the most important markers of liver function), as well as liver cholesterol levels and triglycerides and cholesterol levels in male mice.

This is pretty surprising, as all the other studies have had opposite results.

Almost everything I could find – from the study I linked to above to reputable sources like WebMD or additional studies like this one – was praise for the benefits of the Stevia leaf extract and even potential health benefits.

To be fully honest and transparent, I managed to reverse my fatty liver before hearing about Stevia, so I haven’t personally tried it during my dieting days.

But ever since reversing my condition, Stevia has become my go-to sweetener, alongside other sugar alternatives for fatty liver that I have mentioned, including erythritol.

It’s good to know both sides of the story, though, before making a decision. But in general, the experts agree that stevia extract and sweeteners using stevia are safe for humans, including those with a fatty liver disease.

Is Stevia good for fatty liver?

various types of sugar substitutes

Stevia is a natural sweetener that is extracted from the Brazil- and Paraguay-native plant Stevia rebaudiana.

Unlike sugar and most other sweeteners, it has zero calories and, most importantly, it has no carbohydrates and therefore no effect on the sugar levels in our blood.

Excess carbohydrates (like the ones found in your regular sugar) are transformed by our liver in fat and stored for later use. But the modern society is consuming so many carbs, that our body just stores them continuously and never gets the chance to use them.

As a result, having an alternative la Stevia is extremely useful. This way, we can still satisfy our sweet tooth, but without all the CONs of using traditional sugar or other carbohydrate-rich ingredients.

In other words, Stevia is good for the liver and can help you win your fight against fatty liver faster.

While it is not a cure, nor a required ingredient if you’re trying to get rid of your fatty liver (I repeat – I reversed mine without using any Stevia in my diet), it’s good to know that you have this option, especially when replacing sugar is one of the toughest things we have to do when dieting.

It’s just like with chocolate: some types are considered OK in moderate quantities, but most chocolate on the market is bad for your health.

What are the side effects of consuming Stevia?

Stevia is considered generally safe, with very few people reporting minor side effects.

Stevioside has been safely used in research in doses of up to 1500 mg daily for 2 years and the most common side effects reported were bloating or nausea.

I also found out that there were some reports of dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness, but in all honesty, on our Fatty Liver Support Group on Facebook (with over 40,000 members), the worst side effect I saw mentioned is the slightly metallic aftertaste that Stevia leaves behind.

Some people, myself included, are not bothered at all by this and can’t even feel it, but others do. So we can easily say that Stevia is generally safe.

Should you consume Stevia if you have a fatty liver?

Based on existing data that proves the fact that Stevia is safe for the liver, but also the early studies linking it with improved results against fatty liver, I think that we can safely assume that Stevia is one of those sugar alternatives that you can add to your diet.

Now, I would personally advise against simply switching sugar with Stevia and continuing your old eating habits.

If you bake a cake with Stevia and still use all sorts of fat, white flour, chemicals, and flavorings, that would still be extremely unhealthy and not recommended. Just like it goes with eating pasta if you have MASLD.

Use Stevia – just like any sweetener – with moderation, only when you can’t really do without it: to make your tea sweeter, when baking some healthy snacks and so on. Moderation is key here until we have more studies and findings that would encourage us to consume more.

As I said, I managed to do just fine without Stevia and I reversed my fatty liver. But as soon as I found about it, I started adding it into my diet without any problems.

And you should also consider the disturbing study mentioning the negative effects this sweetener has on mice’s health. If you can do without it, it’s probably better.

IMPORTANT: Most sweeteners that you can find on sale claiming to be “stevia” are actually steviol glycosides (the extract from the leaves which is considered safe to use) mixed with various other sweeteners. I found them mixed will all sorts of sugar alternatives – many of which are not considered healthy (like aspartame, for example).

If you can’t find nothing but Stevia and you go for one of the mixes, I recommend choosing the one mixed with erythritol, since that is another sweetener considered safe.

For example, if you do your shopping online, you can find this pure Stevia on Amazon (affiliate link) or this one which mixed with erythritol (affiliate link). I have used both and although I prefer the former, I can’t say I have any reasons to complain about either.

Have in mind that the pure Stevia extract is EXTREMELY sweet (1 tablespoon equals 1 cup of sugar) so add minimal amounts, ideally by closely following the recommendation on packaging. The ones that are mixed with erythritol are not as sweet and usually come in 2:1 ratio.

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Are Truvia and Splenda good for fatty liver?

Truvia is very similar to the Splenda I use when I am not able to find any pure Stevia extract to buy. It is made of Erythritol, Stevia Leaf Extract and Natural Flavors.

There are various options available though, some with added cornstarch (which comes with extra carbs), others with different ingredients, including sugar.

But if you get the natural Truvia (affiliate link), you will only get the ingredients I mentioned first. Although I think that they are generally safe, I personally prefer the ones I recommended above because I really don’t know what those “natural flavors” are and how natural they are.

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2 thoughts on “Stevia and Fatty Liver: Is It Good or Not?”

    • Very interesting finding, Andy! It is true that the study was made on mice and they say that it is contradictory to other studies, but it definitely is one to consider. However, if it is proven that it has similar effects on mice, it would definitely make things even more complicated for those with a fatty liver.


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