Stevia Is One of the Most Popular Sugar Alternatives
As a calorie-free, plant-based alternative to sugar, stevia is growing in popularity. As it is produced from a plant instead of manufactured in a lab, many individuals prefer it to sugar substitutes that are produced in a purely chemical process.
People with diabetes or poor blood sugar control prefer it because it as it has few to no carbohydrates and will not cause a sudden surge in blood sugar. Sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), two of sugar's different forms, have been connected to inflammation, obesity, and the development of chronic illnesses, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
As a result, reducing your intake of added sugar is typically advised. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars should make up no more than 10% of your daily calories. Therefore, stevia is preferable to sugar because it has not been connected to harmful health consequences and is a healthier option.
How is Stevia Produced
Local farmers in Asia, South America, or other tropical or subtropical areas are where stevia plants are often grown. First, the stevia plant's intense sweetness is extracted by harvesting and drying the leaves. After that, the leaves are immersed in boiling water.
The refined stevia leaf extract that is left is prepared for commercial sale after going through several phases of filtering and centrifugation to isolate the tastiest parts of the leaf. The sweet-tasting components of the leaves make stevia leaf extract. At least 95% of the stevia leaf extract are suitable for food applications. This is the standard practice in most nations where stevia leaf extract is sold.
The stevia leaf extract may be prepared for various commercial uses. Since stevia leaf extract is very sweet (200–350 times sweeter than sugar), substantially less is required to accomplish the same level of sweetness as regular sugar. However, many could discover it challenging to take relatively small doses of stevia leaf extract, particularly for everyday sweetening uses.
Benefits of Stevia
There’s a lot of reasons to try out stevia. Some of them include:
- Weight - Stevia has nearly zero calories. This feature can be great if you're attempting to lose a few pounds.
- Diabetes - Stevia can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. For example, a 2010 study found that stevia substantially reduced glucose levels. The research was conducted with 12 obese and 19 healthy, lean participants. The lowered calorie consumption also made research participants feel satisfied and full after eating.
- Reduce Cholesterol - Additionally, a 2009 research study found that stevia leaf powder may assist in lowering cholesterol. Over a month, study participants ingested stevia extract daily. According to research, stevia lowered triglycerides, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and total cholesterol without adverse effects. Additionally, stevia enhanced HDL ("good") cholesterol. However, it's uncertain if ingesting less stevia would have the same effect.
- Blood Pressure - Stevia may help lower blood pressure according to 2003 research.
- Diets of Children - Stevia-containing foods and drinks can improve children's diets by decreasing the calories from undesirable sweeteners. Thousands of foods ranging from salad dressings to snack bars are now available on the market containing stevia derived from natural sources. This availability helps kids to enjoy sweet foods and beverages while transitioning to a lower-sugar diet without consuming extra calories. Obesity and cardiovascular disease are connected to consuming too many calories and sweets.
In the United States, stevia sweeteners are used as sugar substitutes in table sugar products and low-calorie drinks. In addition, since the middle of the 1990s, dietary supplements made from stevia leaf extracts have been sold in the United States, and many of them blend its sweet and unsweet elements.
Stevia sweeteners organically contain sweet ingredients. Customers who prefer foods and drinks they believe to be natural may gain even more from this. Stevia is currently a component in more than 5,000 beverages and nutrition worldwide—products all around Asia and South America incorporate stevia sweeteners as an ingredient.
Foods that stevia can be used for are:
- Ice cream
- Chewing gum
- Soft drinks
- Prepared vegetables