Stevia – Your Zero Calories Sweetener!
Most of us would prefer to eat a diet that is full of natural, unprocessed foods, but that isn’t always a possibility.
Especially if you are trying to lose weight, you might find yourself attempting to reduce the number of calories that you are eating. And one way to do that is by using an artificial sweetener in your foods and beverages.
While most of us are pretty aware of just how unhealthy processed sugar is for our body, you may not be aware of all of the possibilities as far as artificial sweeteners go.
Some of these have a potential to be dangerous to humans in the long term, but there is one product that has been getting a lot of attention lately and that is known as Stevia.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is a no-calorie sweetener that is different in many ways from the ones that we have been using for a long time, such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin.
Stevia is made from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, which is also known as the sugar leaf or sweet leaf.
The extract from this plant is known to be 300 times sweeter than table sugar, let it is low in carbohydrates and has no apparent effect on blood sugar.
One fact that surprises a lot of people when they see Stevia on the market is that although it is relatively new in the United States, it has been around for a long time.
The United States Food and Drug Administration authorized its use as a food additive in 2008.
Yet it has been used in Japan since 1970, Brazil since 1986, and is recognized as either a dietary supplement or a food additive in dozens of countries around the world.
Note: In the United States, it is generally marketed as Truvia, and you can also find PureVia and In The Raw on the market.
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Is Stevia Healthy?
The primary benefit of Stevia is that it is a natural product that can easily take the place of sugar in your diet.
This is great for people who are diabetic, those who need to keep their sugar consumption low, and those who are trying to lose weight.
Unlike artificial sweeteners, companies that are using Stevia claim that it has no aftertaste, though it has been proven that in high concentrations, it can taste a little bitter.
There are also benefit that you will get from Stevia that you certainly won’t get from processed sugar or any of the artificial sweeteners.
It has been proven in research studies to help relieve stress, relieve pain, relieve inflammation, and help with gastrointestinal issues.
The stevioside compounds that are in Stevia are therefore beneficial for much of the population.
In addition, Stevia has been shown to be heat stable, so it is great for cooking, it is non-fermentable, and won’t cause dental problems like real sugar can.
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Is Stevia Safe?
There will always be some people who will simply prefer natural or processed sugar because of the texture or because they think that they can tell the difference.
However the majority of people will tell you that it tastes the same, reacts the same, and has no aftertaste.
If there is one downside to this product, it is that two studies have been done over the past 30 years that have shown that Stevia may or may not have some kind of contraceptive effect.
No one else has been able to reproduce these results, so it is generally something that is not even mentioned.
There is also some preliminary research to do with Stevia and lowering blood sugar (a good thing), and that it may require caution when used by people who already have low blood sugar.
Otherwise there’s no good evidence to suggest that Stevia has any real side effects.
Is Stevia An Artificial Sweetener?
No! Stevia is classified as sugar substitute and is completely natural. I have already written that it was derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant.
The extraction process is similar to that of sugar. It involves dipping the dried Stevia leaves into water, and then separating the sweet substances known as steviol glycosides.
Why Should You Choose Stevia Sweetener?
Choosing a natural sweetener over processed sugar is something than any health-conscious person should do in order to maintain their weight and help to keep their blood sugar level in check.
One study recently showed that if you drink two cans of soda a day for an entire year, you will gain an extra 30 pounds!
When you add to that all of the sugar that you put on your cereal, in your coffee or tea, or in your baking, then it’s no wonder that many of us are having a weight issue.
Being able to eat and drink many of your favorite foods without the worry of ingesting too much sugar and therefore too many calories is important if you want to be able to enjoy a fairly normal diet.
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By choosing Stevia as your alternative sweetener, you will actually be getting a product that is derived from a natural plant, that has no known side effects, and has been around for a very long time.
When you also consider that Stevia has no calories yet will provide you with the taste of sugar, there seems to be little choice as to what you should use.