If you have a sweet tooth but also want to watch your calorie intake, you may be interested in learning about natural sweeteners. There are many options that can be a better alternative to the sugar we commonly consume. One of the top choices is Stevia, a plant-based sweetener that is low in calories and can help address various lifestyle issues related to sugar consumption. Stevia is a much healthier option for people with diabetes as it doesn’t disturb the blood sugar level and gives them guilt-free sugar-like indulgence.
Meanwhile, Stevia does offer a bankable choice for the health-conscious, but is it really safe to consume on a daily basis? Or it has to be consumed in measured amounts? In this article, we will reveal all these details about stevia straight from its origin and usage, along with covering all its benefits, side effects, and much more. So, if you’re curious about how stevia sugar can sweeten up your life, keep reading! We’ll dive into all the aspects of why stevia is becoming the next big thing in the world of sweeteners.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is derived from stevia plant leaves through water extraction and then concentration. Stevia sweeteners are calorie-free sweeteners that are used to reduce sugar consumption while yet satisfying your desire for something sweet. Active stevia compound is the blend of various steviol glycosides and rebaudioside A along with traces of main glycosides stevioside. They are generally inferred as sugar alternatives, natural sweeteners, or low-calorie sweeteners.
However, some of the sweeteners in this category carry low-calorie foods like aspartame, and others are zero-calorie products like stevia plant sweeteners, fruit sweeteners, etc. It is commonly used as an alternative to sugar in food and beverages, including baked goods, drinks, and other processed foods. Stevia has gained popularity as a sweetening option also for those suffering from diabetes. The primary ingredient of the Stevia plant is steviol glycoside, and its scientific name is Stevia rebaudiana.
The origin of the stevia plant dates back to the sixteenth century when people mixed tea and the sweet-tasting plant. The Guarani tribe of South America has used stevia for the past fifteen hundred years. South American countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, etc., have been using stevia as a sweetener in drinks like tea and coffee and also in desserts for the past many years.
Nutritional Value of Stevia
|Nutritional Value of Stevia|
|Nutrients (in 1gm)||Its amount|
|Vitamin C||0 gram|
|Vitamin A||0 gram|
|Total Fat||0 gram|
Glycemic Index of Stevia
Stevia sugar has garnered such popularity among health-conscious and diabetics because of its minimal effect on blood sugar levels. Along with this, the glycemic index of stevia is 0, and stevia is categorized as a very low glycemic index food. The glycemic load of stevia, too, is 0.0, which means it has no effect on spiking blood sugar levels post its consumption.
The glycemic index of a food is nothing but a numerical representation of the relative increase of blood sugar after a couple of hours due to the consumption of that food and its carbohydrate content. The reference food in every case is pure glucose. Every food has a specific value on the glycemic index scale. The glycemic scale goes from 0 to 100, and ginger, scoring just 10, is a good option for diabetic patients. Foods having values 70-100 are categorized as high, 56-69 are moderate, and below 55 are low.
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Stevia vs Sugar
When we talk of sugar and stevia, both are plant-based sweeteners, but they differ in many aspects, such as calories, taste, kind of use, etc. So let’s have a quick look at the key differences and similarities between both.
You know both sugar and stevia are plant-based sweeteners. However, their sources are completely different. Sugar comes from the sugarcane plant, while stevia is processed from the stevia plant, originally from South America. In fact, South American countries have been using stevia plants for centuries.
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When it comes to sweetness, both regular sugar and stevia sugar hit the mark on our taste buds. But here’s the thing – their textures are totally different! Sugar is what we’re all used to, with its familiar sweet taste that most of us love. On the other hand, stevia sugar has a unique flavor that’s a little distinct. Some people narrate it as having a slight aftertaste. It’s worth pointing out that the taste of stevia can fluctuate depending on the brand and type you use. So, if you’re looking for a diverse kind of sweetness, stevia sugar might be your go-to, but keep in mind that it can have a different taste compared to regular sugar.
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Another unique difference you may need to know is that sugar is high in calories, with about 16 calories per teaspoon. Stevia sugar, on the other hand, is very low in calories, with essentially zero calories per teaspoon. The main advantage of using stevia sugar is that it has much, much fewer calories when compared to regular sugar. Therefore it helps maintain weight and keeps your daily calorie count in control.
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Benefits of Stevia
The world is head over heels for the benefits of stevia, and that’s why it has earned so much popularity today. Stevia sugar carries zero calories which is significantly less than sucrose. Technically it does take some calories, but comparing it with sugar earns it the zero-calorie designation.
Moreover, it is naturally extracted from the stevia plant and therefore is preferred by people who vouch for nature-sourced organic products. Plus, Stevia’s low-calorie counts help people with co-morbidities like diabetes and obesity to replace sugar in their daily food intake, keeping the blood glucose level under control. So let’s dive deep into the benefits of stevia and learn more about it:
One of the first benefits of stevia is that Stevia sugar is clinically proven to help people with diabetes. Five different trials conducted examined the metabolic effects of stevia and gave positive health results. Just imagine enjoying all your sugary delicacies without having to worry about your glucose levels seems dreamy, right? Stevia brings this fantasy into reality.
Consuming stevia sugar doesn’t spike the level of glucose in the blood and carbohydrates in the body. This helps diabetic people to satisfy their craving for sweets and desserts and also allows them to maintain a healthy body record. Some studies also suggest that stevia plant intake ignites the glucagon response in diabetic patients and reduces blood sugar to some extent, adding another star to its uniform. By the way, the Glucagon hormone becomes unresponsive in patients with type 2 diabetes.
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Helps in Weight Loss
Maybe our work culture and jammed-up daily schedules are to do things for us to survive. But this has a downside effect. The race to earn money is making many of us overlook our health. This is making us gain excessive weight and harm our bodies. In this regard those who are suffering from obesity or are overweight, sugar is their biggest enemy. Sucrose causes a burst of energy in our body, but if we don’t use it right away, it gets stored as fat. And we don’t want that.
For a person who is obese or overweight, adding extra calories like these will only deteriorate their condition. So here comes the solution, Stevia Sugar. Stevia plant is low on calories and helps people cope with sugar cravings without adding extra weight.
Think of sugar like a big wave in the sea spiking your blood glucose and stevia like steady flowing river water. So, its consumption helps us cope with weight loss and is one of the main benefits of stevia.
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Yes, you read that right! Along with having the ability to curb blood sugar, Stevia contains health-beneficial compounds, such as sterols and various antioxidants, including kaempferol which has cancer-prevention properties. Just imagine using a substance that fills your sugar cravings and improves your body’s cancer resistance. Stevia brings this dream into reality. Studies show that stevia contains Kaempferol which reduces the chances of pancreatic cancer.
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Lowers Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is another disorder that compels you to live on meds constantly. Here comes Stevia again to help you out in this regard. Wondering how? Stevia sugar contains glycosides, and among these glycosides, some dilate blood vessels that regulate blood flow.
The glycosides also help excrete sodium from your body through increased urine outflow. Thus, keeping your blood pressure at tolerant levels. This doesn’t just end here; extensive research has shown stevia has cardiotonic properties. Cardiotonic properties regulate blood pressure and heartbeat in your body.
Reduces sugar intake in children: When we adults cannot fully control our urge for sugar, how can we expect this from kids? Chocolates, toffees, cakes, cream cookies, just naming them is enough to tempt children. Therefore, children’s meals are filled with loads of sugar to make them develop a taste for it.
But these products add unwanted sugar to their body, which make them accumulate fat and increase their addictiveness towards sugar. Stevia will help you in this regard too. Opting for the Stevia plant can replace these sugar intakes and switch our children to a healthier lifestyle right from the beginning. Currently, there are many stevia-based children’s products which are now available in the market.
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Uses of Stevia
Stevia nowadays has been making many headlines on the internet. But where should stevia actually be used? What are the types available? Below we will be answering all this, so keep reading. The general uses of stevia are many, and it can fully replace sugar in every form.
Do you know? Raw stevia plant leaves are also used as diet supplements. Here comes the best part, since its source is completely natural, you consume no chemicals. So uses of Stevia include:
- Beverages, both hot and cold
- Ice creams Curd
- Packaged food
- Vegetable curries etc
Side Effects of Stevia
Looking on the internet, you will find Stevia to be a magical substance that is a solution to everything. However, the fact is it is a natural sweetener that is generally considered completely safe for human consumption. But ever wondered what is the downside of using stevia? Though Stevia sugar has been approved by leading health groups in the world, like the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Europe’s Food Safety Authority (EFSA). But some develop side effects of stevia on consuming it. However these are rare instances, but it is best to know them all.
Although unusual, some people may develop an allergic reaction to stevia’s sugar intake. Symptoms may include itching, swelling, or even difficulty in breathing. If you feel any traces of an allergic reaction after consuming stevia, you should terminate its use and seek your doctor’s advice immediately.
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This may come as a shock to many of you. But some individuals may have an upset stomach or stomach cramps for this reason. We may think these happen only due to eating fast food. But these may not be the only reason, as some may encounter gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, gas, or even diarrhea after consuming stevia. This may be due to the way stevia interacts with the gut and the gut microbiome. But nothing much to worry about; these side effects of stevia are generally infrequent, mild, and temporary. Most people can digest stevia plant leaves well enough.
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When you read about stevia, whether offline or online, you will find claims of stevia replacing sugar in every way. But today, we will tell you a secret. Let’s begin! One of the primary uses of stevia is to replace natural sugar entirely in your life. Switching to stevia sugar after lifelong sugar consumption makes us familiar with and addicted to its taste. Therefore switching to stevia sugar may feel differently, and some may not like the aftertaste the stevia plant leaves behind. So tastewise, you may not find stevia pleasant or may experience an altered taste sensation. Think of it like the taste of normal water and mineral water, just a subtle difference.
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Reaction with Medicines
If you take prescribed medications daily then, stevia can cause a little disturbance to you. We say this because several drugs, especially those taken to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels, may interact differently with stevia. So we would advise consulting an experienced physician before you consume stevia plants. This way, you, too, can be sure of any possible reaction that may arise if you intend to take both.
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Are you experiencing any hormonal changes lately? Just try to remember the time when it started happening. We are asking this as some studies on stevia sugar suggest it may have potential hormonal effects, particularly on insulin and estrogen levels. While these side effects of stevia are typically seen as minor and not of significant concern to the majority of people, additional research is necessary to bank on their scope completely.
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Stevia in Diabetes
Diabetes is a long-lasting lifestyle disease characterized by spiked blood sugar levels. But with diabetes, your body either can’t make enough insulin, a hormone that helps your cells use glucose, or it can’t use insulin properly. The first condition is defined as type 1 diabetes and the second condition in which insulin absorption is affected is called type II diabetes.
Effective diabetes surveillance is crucial to avoid complications and retain optimal blood sugar levels. So, in this case, regulating dietary intake and controlling the amount of sugar intake becomes mandatory. So this is where stevia sugar helps you out.
How Does Stevia Help Diabetic Patients?
What’s great about stevia sugar is that it can actually be really helpful for people with diabetes. Stevia has a low glycemic index, which is a fancy way of saying it doesn’t mess with your blood sugar levels as much as other sweeteners. The glycemic index measures how quickly a carbohydrate raises blood glucose levels.
Increased glycemic index foods can result in an abrupt spike in blood sugar, while low glycemic index foods are digested more slowly, leading to a more gradual increase in blood sugar levels. Since the stevia plant has a glycemic index score of around zero, it won’t cause those quick spikes in blood sugar levels. And that’s great news for diabetics! It means that stevia sugar can be a good choice as a sugar substitute because it won’t mess with their blood sugar levels like other sweeteners might. So, if you’re watching your blood sugar, stevia can be a wise option to help you cope well and enjoy some sweetness without worrying too much about your blood sugar.
Lowers Sugar Level
Some studies suggest Stevia plant has anti-hyperglycemic properties, which may help reduce blood sugar levels. This is very beneficial for diabetic patients.
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Controls Insulin and its Absorption
Here is another relationship between stevia sugar and diabetes: it’s actually been found to be pretty awesome! It turns out, stevia can help your body produce more insulin and make your cells more sensitive to insulin. And that’s a good thing for diabetic patients! So, if you’re surviving diabetes, you might just consider replacing sugar with stevia. It will be a sweet pleasure that won’t mess with your insulin levels too much.
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Enhance Antioxidant Levels
Consuming stevia plants has been proven to enhance antioxidants in our bodies. The thing with Antioxidants is they aid in our body’s defense against dangerous free compounds, which are known to cause oxidative stress and destroy cells. Another thing is that oxidative stress has been linked to often increased and unregulated diabetes. As a result, putting stevia sugar in your diet may help to lessen oxidative stress.
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Prevents People from Becoming Diabetic
You know one of the benefits of stevia sugar in diabetes is consuming stevia plants to cut the sugar intake in our bodies. This prevents us from getting overweight and obese. Obesity and excess body weight are risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, and weight management is an essential aspect of diabetes management.
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Alright, so we’ve talked about everything stevia, from how to use it, its pros and cons, how to consume it, and more. And guess what? Stevia is like the ultimate sugar substitute! It’s totally safe, can replace sugar in any form, and has low calories and health benefits to boot. Plus, it can help control blood sugar levels and even reduce them, which is a win for people with diabetes who still want to satisfy their sweet tooth without feeling guilty.
Just like with anything else, it’s essential to have a look for any side effects. If you notice any unusual reactions after using stevia, it’s best to stop and talk to your doc to ensure everything’s okay. You’ve got to keep that safety first. Overall, stevia can be a game-changer for those looking to cut back on sugar and still enjoy some sweetness in their life!
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Why was stevia banned?
Stevia was banned in the early 1900s by America’s food administration and European Council, but after subsequent studies and research, they later certified stevia as entirely safe. Today, stevia sugar is sold and consumed worldwide, including in the USA and Europe.
Does stevia cause cancer?
No, instead, the consumption of stevia helps prevent cancer. Stevia sugar contains Kaempferol which helps prevent pancreatic cancer.
Which stevia is best for diabetics?
Stevia extract is best for diabetes as it is much better than pure stevia. The stevia extract will provide you with sweetness and also is zero calories.
Can stevia prevent diabetes?
Yes, the stevia plant is proven to have many health benefits, including preventing diabetes. This happens because stevia gives you the sweetness from consuming sugar but doesn’t spike your blood sugar level, maintaining your daily dietary intake.
Does stevia increase insulin?
Yes, clinical studies suggest the benefits of stevia of increasing insulin release and absorption through continuous consumption of stevia sugar.
Is it safe to use stevia daily?
Yes, it is fully safe to consume stevia sugar daily. The World Health Organization specifies 4 mg of stevia sugar intake per kilogram of body weight as safe.
Is stevia better for you than sugar?
Stevia is a much better alternative to sugar as it has zero calories and has several health benefits like regulating and controlling blood sugar levels, blood pressure, increasing antioxidants in the body, etc.
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.