Is Stevia Safe While Breastfeeding
Natural and artificial sweeteners are being used in many products that are considered “healthy” such as low sugar dark chocolate bars, spork drinks, low carb snakes, and more. It is known that some artificial sweeteners may alter metabolism and increase the risk of obesity and insulin resistance, leading to both increased blood sugar and insulin levels. Therefore, it makes sense for breastfeeding moms to be concerned about the safety of consuming stevia while breastfeeding.
In this article, we discuss what stevia is, can it pass to your baby through breastmilk, is it safe while breastfeeding, and other alternatives for breastfeeding moms.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant, native to Brazil and Paraguay. Its active compounds are steviol glycosides, which have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar.
Is Stevia Good or Bad for You?
Stevia is a natural and low-calorie alternative to sugar that can help people who want to manage or lose weight. Stevia is considered good as long as you consume it in moderation. Too much stevia may cause nausea, gas, and inflammation in the kidney and liver.
There are many brands that offer stevia sweeteners. Here is one of the best-selling stevia products on Amazon.
STEVIA IN THE RAW
Stevia and Breastfeeding
According to NCBI, sugar consumption can negatively affect a baby’s cognitive development. This is one of the reasons why it is recommended for breastfeeding moms to avoid or cut back on sugar-sweetened drinks and foods.
In addition, many moms are trying to maintain a healthy diet postpartum to increase breastmilk supply and maintain or even lose weight. Stevia is considered as a “healthy” alternative to sugar, but is it safe to consume stevia while breastfeeding? Here is what the experts think about this.
Is Stevia Safe While Breastfeeding?
According to Food Insights, an information hub created and curated by the IFIC nutrition and food safety experts, stevia is considered safe while breastfeeding.
Yet, it is important to note that there is no published research that has examined the possible effects of using stevia while breastfeeding in humans. Their recommendation is based on several landmark studies in animals (1,2) that have demonstrated no adverse reproductive or developmental effects on mothers or their offspring.
Furthermore, stevia leaves contain rebaudiosides and steviosides. According to NCBI, a rebaudioside A is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) as a sweetening agent for foods by the FDA. That being said, some authors suggest that breastfeeding moms should limit the consumption of non-nutritive sweeteners while breastfeeding because their effect on the nursing infants is unknown.
Are artificial sweeteners safe while breastfeeding
The FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners: saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. It has also approved one natural low-calorie sweetener, stevia.
Most artificial sweeteners, except for saccharin, have low levels in breastmilk and therefore are considered safe during breastfeeding. According to NCBI, except for saccharin, nonnutritive sweeteners are considered safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding including sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium, which are commonly consumed in the general population.
Safe Artificial Sweeteners While Breastfeeding
Here is a list of safe artificial sweeteners that you can use while breastfeeding, according to Mottchildren:
- Aspartame (avoid if you have PKU)
- Acesulfame K
- Sugar alcohols
Should You Limit Artificial Sweeteners While Breastfeeding?
Yes, as mentioned above, stevia and other artificial sweeteners are safe while breastfeeding, but in moderation. It is ok to have artificially sweetened foods (that do not contain saccharin) now and then while breastfeeding, but you need to make sure that they don’t take the place of nutrient-rich foods you need during this period.
It is also important to note that using too much artificial sweeteners is not healthy. Artificial sweeteners sometimes have negative effects on the body and brain. If you are looking for other safe and healthy sugar substitutes, raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, and vanilla are all great options. Try to get creative with recipes to discover the potential of naturally sweet foods.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is generally considered safe while breastfeeding in moderation. Research is lacking regarding other artificial sweeteners while breastfeeding and the impact is unknown, this is why it is better to avoid or limit these sweeteners while breastfeeding. Make sure to check with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about using artificial sweeteners and stevia while breastfeeding.