Common Myths about Stevia: Why Was Stevia Banned in India?
In 2011, Stevia was banned in India for a few reasons. One of them was that India was heavily dependent on sugar as a part of the Indian diet. In the early 2000s, Stevia Biotech was started by Sourabh Agarwal. In light of the ban, he voiced, “In July 2009, they (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) passed a 2-line statement conveying that Stevia should not be sold in India unless they come up with the right regulations around it." Sugar alternatives were considered to be controversial as it was suspected to be carcinogenic.
Sugar production became a political lobby so it was no shock that this sought-after market was overrun by sugarcane farming. Stevia was also such a new product in the market that farmers did not have a clear-cut idea of how to cultivate these plants. Over time, this drastically changed and farmers preferred growing Stevia plants for the higher rate of returns.
These obstacles were overcome and the misconceptions were disproved through structured research. More brands like Amul, PepsiCo and Mother Dairy began incorporating this sweetener in their products. Nikhil Rajpal and Gaurav Singla, the co-founders of Zevic, rightly pointed out, "Educating medical and general healthcare professionals about the side effects of artificial sweeteners and benefits of Stevia will easily help impact more lives."
In 2015, the ban was overturned and the benefits of this zero-calorie, natural sweetener dawned on all those that used it.
What is Stevia?
Stevia comes from a shrub that is native to North and South America. It consists of several glycoside compounds that impart sweetness 150-300 times stronger than sugar. Stevia has very few calories (if any) which makes it a suitable alternative to refined sugar.
Benefits of Stevia
Consuming Stevia has a wide range of health benefits due to its inherent properties. For those who wish to cut out white sugar, those on their fitness journey and diabetics can use Stevia products.
Regulates Blood Sugar Level
Stevia has a large market for diabetics who must stay away from sugar. It is handy to replace it with tea, coffee and desserts. Investigative reports suggest that Stevia does not influence blood sugar or insulin sensitivity (1). Stevia stimulates the release of glucagon, which has the potential to regulate spikes in blood sugar. Thus, using Stevia as a natural sweetener can be helpful for diabetes.
Managing Weight Gain
If you are actively pursuing weight loss, Stevia products may be a great companion in your journey. Instead of depriving yourself of sweet goodies, Stevia can be used to keep them in your life! Including too much sugar in your diet could be one of the causes of obesity and weight gain. As it is low in calories, these products can be safely used.
Taking Care of Blood Pressure
Stevia has been found to have cardiotonic activity (2). This means that Stevia has the potential to reduce blood pressure and regulate the heart rate. Glycosides in Stevia are a vasodilator (dilates blood vessels) that can lower blood pressure naturally. Including Stevia as a sweetener can remove excess sodium in the system and triggers urination. Sodium can increase hypertension and hence, Stevia is an effective tool to combat this.
How To Use
There is a wide range of Stevia-based products that are available in the market. From powders, liquids, teas and leaves, there is a viable option for all those who wish to add it to their eating habits.
As a relevant alternative to refined sugar or honey, Stevia powders are an all-purpose sweetener. For your cooking and baking purposes, this can be easily incorporated into any dish. You can get your hands on some great Stevia powders from brands like Zevic as well! These are natural, gluten-free and non-GMO. 1 tsp of this powder can be used to replace 1 tsp of sugar.
Stevia can be taken in liquid form and 4-5 drops are sufficient for tea, coffee or any other beverage. Brands like Zevic and Magicleaf have some amazing options - this is a great way of keeping in shape while cutting out sugar. Stevia drops are an easy, natural way to add sweet flavours into your drinks without contributing to the glycemic index.
If you want Stevia products that are less processed, utilizing the dried leaves may be a wonderful option for you. Zevic and Magicleaf are some of the brands that provide this Stevia leaves. You can take 4-5 leaves and soak them in 1 cup of water to extract the sweetening compounds. Then, just add it to your desired food and enhance the taste naturally!
With all this information, it is clear that Stevia is an excellent replacement for artificial/ chemical sweeteners. We must always be cautious of what we are putting into our body, to keep our systems running at full capacity. Always read labels and ensure the ingredients are wholesome and chemical-free! Cora has an exclusive range of Stevia-based products that are sure to meet your health requirements.