The market is offering a wide variety of low-calorie sweeteners but most of them are artificial. However, there are several natural sweeteners that are available. Stevia, a type of perennial plant has a completely natural sweet taste. Actually, it is much sweeter than sugar. Stevia can fully replace the sugar but it’s different in many ways. In addition to its high potency, this sweetener has no calories and is associated with many potential benefits to our health. Find more information about the health benefits below.
No side effects
Stevia is one of the few forms of natural sugar substitute that we can find in the market. Because it is completely natural it does not exhibit the same side effects as some artificial sweeteners such as headaches, dizziness and other serious conditions. You can find many pieces of research that show Stevia is in no way harmful to health.
Helps insulin release
Type 2 diabetes, which is characterised by high blood sugar and insulin resistance, has become one of the most serious health problems of our time. According to several studies, Stevia is positive in patients with diabetes. For example, in patients with type 2 diabetes who consumed stevioside, sweet compound derived from Stevia, a decline in blood sugar levels by 18%. Other studies have demonstrated that the same may contribute to the production of insulin (1).
It helps in regulating weight
Stevia (raw leaves) is about 40 times sweeter than normal sugar, which means that you can use much less quantity to reach the same level of sweetness. Therefore, it is used in very small quantities. Stevia is considered as free of calories and is a great substitute for sugar in tea, coffee, sweets and more. People who use Stevia argue that helps in suppressing appetite and willingness to accept high-calorie foods. Preliminary research indicates that this sweetener affects the hypothalamus suppressing hunger as a whole. However, more studies are needed to confirm these theories (2).
Other potential benefits
The natural sweetener is proposed as an aid in the treatment of osteoporosis since some studies have demonstrated its potential effect on calcium metabolism and bone density (3). The application of Stevia in cuts and wounds also showed alleviating pain and restore the skin. Stevia is also the better option for your teeth. Sugar form layer of bacteria when consumed and in long term can cause plaque and cavities. With stevia, the bacteria cannot ferment and thus cannot adhere to your teeth. This natural sweetener is also prescribed in South America to help control high blood pressure. There are well-documented studies confirming the benefits of stevia in lowering of blood pressure (4,5).
As a whole, the potential benefits of Stevia are wide-ranging. While most of the allegations have yet to be proven sweetener remains an important and safe sugar substitute. Stevia can be found in most grocery stores in the form of sugar pellets or powder, but also can be found in most shops for organic food and organic shops in the form of white powder, tablets, raw or dried leaves. I personally use stevia to sweeten my tea and to flavour my protein powder.
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- Gregersen, S., Jeppesen, P.B., Holst, J.J. and Hermansen, K., 2004. Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects.Metabolism, 53(1), pp.73-76.
- Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels.Appetite. 2010;55:37–43.
- Prakash, I. and DuBois, G., The Coca-Cola Company, 2006.High-Potency Sweetener Composition for Treatment and/or Prevention of Osteoporosis and Compositions Sweetened Therewith. U.S. Patent Application 11/556,070
- Hsieh, M.H., Chan, P., Sue, Y.M., Liu, J.C., Liang, T.H., Huang, T.Y., Tomlinson, B., Chow, M.S.S., Kao, P.F. and Chen, Y.J., 2003. Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study.Clinical therapeutics, 25(11), pp.2797-2808.
- Chan, P., Tomlinson, B., Chen, Y.J., Liu, J.C., Hsieh, M.H. and Cheng, J.T., 2000. A double‐blind placebo‐controlled study of the effectiveness and tolerability of oral stevioside in human hypertension.British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 50(3), pp.215-220.