Stevia: Use, Benefits and Side Effects
Stevia is one of the most common natural sweeteners out there. It imparts zero calories and has been utilized for hundreds of years. Stevia comes from a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, a member of the sunflower family. In older traditions of several countries like Japan, China, Kenya and more, the leaves were extracted to sweeten their food.
Modern Stevia is produced from the highly refined leaf extract called rebaudioside (Reb-A), which is 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose. This is usually blended with erythritol and dextrose to form new types of sweeteners.
Benefits Of Stevia
As mentioned earlier, there are no calories in this sugar substitute, which makes it ideal for those on their weight loss journey. An obvious usage of Stevia is for individuals with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels under control.
Diabetes- Regulate With Stevia
Studies have displayed the regulation of insulin and glucose levels in people who consumed it (1). They also found that they were fuller for longer even with the lower calories. For type 2 diabetics, the secretion of a hormone called glucagon is often defective. Stevia stimulates glucagon response to glucose, which helps regulate it. Including this sweetener in your diet can have positive effects on blood pressure and cholesterol as well. It comes as no surprise that Stevia is all the rage!
Weight Gain- Manage With Stevia
Stevia contains no carbohydrates and can be used to establish a balanced diet. If you are trying to cut down on excess weight, remember that weight gain is directly related to calorie intake. This makes Stevia a viable tool to add sweetness to your meals without added unnecessary sugars that can have harmful side effects. Using Stevia products can also lower sweet cravings and thus prevent the urge to indulge in unhealthy foods. All these factors can have advantages for your weight loss journey when supplemented appropriately.
The compounds in Stevia that give it that sweet taste are called stevicol glycosides. These influence the dilation of blood vessels. Some studies suggest that Stevia is a cardiotonic – this means that it can regulate your heartbeat and stabilize blood pressure (2). Refined sugars trigger an increase in blood pressure due to the production of uric acid. As described earlier, Stevia enhances the removal of waste products like uric acid through urination. This can be viewed as another advantage of taking Stevia over sugar!
Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Stevia?
Although stevicol glycosides have been assessed to be generally regarded as safe (GRAS), we always recommend consulting a nutritionist or a physician first. Investigations have observed that Stevia was safe to consume (3). Certain individuals who should take caution when it comes to these products. Ones with sensitivity to sugar alcohol could face nausea, digestion issues and cramping with Stevia. Ensuring that the products you use are purified and employing them with discretion can hone all the benefits!
How To Use Stevia?
Stevia is available in different forms to reduce calories. It can be found in ice creams, beverages, bread, desserts, dressings and more.
An easy way to include Stevia in your tea, coffee and desserts are with drops! Just 4-5 are enough to lift the flavour naturally. You can even use it in your infused water recipes to liven it up and keep the heat away too! Brands like Zevic and Magicleaf have some amazing options - this is a great way of keeping in shape while cutting out sugar.
Stevia PowderYou 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. It can be used to get the right taste you are looking for in your favourite dishes!
Enjoy Desserts Without Feeling Guilty
We always have room for dessert, don’t we? But without sugar, it may seem like we have to deprive ourselves of our most loved sweet treats. Lucky for the ones on our weight loss or diabetic journey, Stevia is here to keep our yummy treats in our lives without any of the guilt!