We already know that processed sugar is detrimental to our health, and with the excessive intake being responsible for issues like obesity. That’s why alternative sweeteners were created. These promise to be a healthier alternative for sugar—unfortunately, some are not. Stevia, however, is a safe alternative that also offers plenty of health benefits. This article will help you learn more about stevia, about which many people have misconceptions.
What Is Stevia?
Extracted from green leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plants, stevia is a natural sweetener. Stevia leaves have been used since ancient times as an herbal remedy to treat such issues as high blood sugar. This natural alternative is more than 100-300 times sweeter than the sugar you’re used to but without all of those extra calories. Stevia is an alternative that is not only healthy for people with diabetes, but everyone can benefit from consuming it.[i] Stevia is a tasty alternative to sugar that lacks many of the potential side effects of consuming other sugar alternatives, such as the risk of cancer when using Splenda. These benefits and the reduced side effects are why stevia is becoming a popular choice for people who want to be healthier.
What makes stevia different from some of the other options available is that it is entirely natural and extracted from a plant. Other forms are artificial, which is why they aren’t the safest choice when you are looking for a healthier sugar alternative. These plants are most commonly found in China, Japan, Paraguay, and Brazil, though other areas are starting to grow this once rare plant.
Health Benefits of Stevia
1. Weight Loss Benefits
One of the most significant benefits of stevia is that this is a calorie-free sugar alternative and is great for weight loss or maintaining weight. By replacing sugar with stevia, you will reduce your caloric intake and make losing weight much more manageable. There is also some evidence that stevia can increase that feeling of fullness, meaning that you will eat less but still be satisfied with your meal.[ii] You won’t have to sacrifice flavor thanks to stevia, allowing you to eat healthier and avoid unhealthy food temptations.
2. Good for Diabetics
If you have health issues like diabetes, you can also gain benefits from consuming stevia. Studies have shown that people who use stevia have significantly lowered levels of glucose and insulin.[iii] Therefore, if you struggle with high blood sugar levels, stevia can help you better manage them. There is some evidence that there is also a link between stevia intake and a reduction in bad cholesterol, as well as a reduced risk of heart disease.[iv]
3. Lower Cholesterol & Blood Pressure
Stevia can also help improve your cholesterol levels, which is essential for a healthy heart. One study showed that administering stevia leaf to the rats for a period of 8 weeks led to a reduction in the total levels of bad (“LDL”) cholesterol and increase the levels of the good (“HDL”) cholesterol.[v] Stevia is also good for your heart health because it can help reduce your blood pressure levels. One study, in particular, shows that stevia can be linked to a reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels after two years of consumption.[vi]
These are just some of the health benefits you can gain from consuming stevia regularly. They are still currently doing studies to uncover many more benefits that you can get from stevia.
Is Stevia Safe?
The most important question many people have is whether or not stevia is safe. There is so much bad press about other sugar alternatives that people are naturally wary of trying different options. As previously mentioned, the most significant difference between stevia and other choices is that stevia is all-natural. But does all-natural mean safer?
The FDA considers stevia to be generally safe. There have been several studies done on the safety of stevia. For instance, in one particular study, stevia was shown to be not only a very safe option, but it is also well tolerated. There was no sign of adverse side effects during this study.[vii] You should be aware that stevia extract that has gone through the purification process is the safest way to consume stevia.
For a while, there was a belief that stevia was hazardous to your kidney health. However, research has since shown that it not only is perfectly safe for your kidneys, stevia also has properties that can protect your kidneys.[viii] This research means that you can reduce the impact of conditions like diabetes. Stevia is so safe to use even pregnant women can use it. Stevia has routinely been shown to be very reliable, unlike other sugar alternatives.
Stevia’s sweetness is all naturally occurring. The artificial ingredients in the other sugar substitutes are a significant reason why these are not generally considered to be safe for users. When you see items are made with stevia, you can consume this product with confidence, knowing that as long as you use it in moderation, it is perfectly safe for you. It’s not only safe; it’s also extremely beneficial. Many people have had bad experiences with other sugar alternatives or they have heard negative things about them from the news. But these artificial alternatives are not even in the same league as stevia.
Besides stevia, there are several other natural sweeteners that you can enjoy in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
In particular, raw honey, dates, coconut sugar, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup and real fruit jam are all healthy sugar substitute options that can sweeten up any dish.
Keep in mind that these other options do impact caloric intake and blood sugar. Unlike regular processed sugars, however, these healthy alternatives often provide important micronutrients and offer several health benefits as well.
What does all of this mean? If you want a sweetener that
offers the sweetness of sugar without all of the calories or other “bad”
things, stevia is the best choice to use. More and more, studies are finding
issues with other sugar alternatives like Splenda and aspartame. These issues
have caused people to hesitate when it comes to consuming any sugar alternatives.
This hesitancy is a common concern, but by educating yourself about stevia and
it’s benefits, you can see why this is becoming the popular alternative to sugar
and artificial sweeteners. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a
healthy lifestyle, but you don’t want to sacrifice the sweeter things in life,
stevia is the safest option.