Stevia has been around for a while often dubbed as that miracle sugar substitute that comes with zero calories and no health risks. Today we’re looking at this sugar alternative from the point of view of somebody diagnosed with NAFLD: is Stevia good for fatty liver or not?
Stevia was found to reduce fat levels and even fibrosis markers in fatty liver, therefore being considered not only safe, but 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.
While it is still early and the clinical trials are ongoing, this latest study on Stevia’s effects on the liver proves that the claims we’ve heard before were correct. Stevia is not only a safe sweetener for the liver and for those with hepatic steatosis aka fatty liver, but apparently one that helps us reverse the condition.
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.
I am actually trying to switch to using Stevia as much as possible, replacing all the other sweeteners that I use. And I use them sparingly anyway. But the results of the study I mentioned above are reason enough for me to go all-in on Stevia, especially since we’ve heard it over and over and over again that it’s actually really good for us.
Is Stevia good for fatty liver?
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.
Does Stevia cause liver damage?
One of this blog’s readers posted a comment claiming that there were studies showing that Stevia causes liver damage. I asked for references and links to the said studies, but I never found them.
Intrigued, I did massive research to find any reports about Stevia causing liver damage, but I couldn’t find any.
On the contrary, everything I could find – from the study I linked to above to reputable sources like WebMD or additional studies like this or this one – was praise for the benefits of the Stevia leaf extract and even potential health benefits.
The only bad thing – although that is a huge overstatement – I could find was an Import Alert issued by the FDA (US Food & Drug administration) which recommends immediate detention of “Stevia Leaves, Crude Extracts of Stevia Leaves and foods Containing Stevia Leaves and/or Stevia Extracts”.
The reason behind this? The leaves are not an approved food additive due to insufficient studies. BUT, according to the same alert, the steviol glycosides (which are used in the making of Stevia products you buy in supermarkets, as well as the sugar substitutes) “are not subject to detention under” the Import Alert.
So by no means has anybody ever claimed that Stevia is bad of one’s health and especially the liver, on the contrary.
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 10,000 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.
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.
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.
Is Truvia 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.
Many hyped products end up bad, but apparently Stevia is not one of them. This miracle sweetener seems to have all the requirements to be considered safe for the liver and also fatty liver, and hopefully today’s article helped you better understand it.
I did a lot of research, as you can probably tell, and read various studies with medical terms and expressions that required a dictionary, but the conclusion is the same in plain English: yes, Stevia (steviol glycosides) can be considered safe for a fatty liver.