As we learn more and more about the side effects of sugar, we are becoming increasingly aware of how unhealthy it is, especially when consumed in excessive amounts. However, some sugar substitutes can be just as dangerous to your health, so it is important to choose a sugar substitute wisely.
One of the best replacements for sugar is Stevia rebaudiana, more commonly known as sugar leaf or sweet leaf. It is a plant in the sunflower family that grows in Central and South America, Mexico, and some U.S. states including Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. It was used by the Guarani people in parts of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Bolivia as candy leaf for more than 1500 years. They used the herb for sweetening tea or as refreshment by chewing it.
A wide variety of research studies have been conducted that suggest stevia is completely natural, safe, and calorie free for using as a sweetener in beverages and food. The plant’s sweetness is due to a substance called glycoside, which some researchers say is 300 times sweeter than sugar but does not have the side effects of raising blood sugar like its artificial or refined counterparts.
Benefits of Stevia
-Stevia has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries and provides some health benefits.
-According to a double-blind placebo study, consuming Stevia on a regular basis may help patients with mild hypertension reduce their blood pressure. Not only this, but studies have shown that the herb may potentially reduce the growth of breast cancer; however, that research is still too early to find a direct correlation.
-It may help prevent tooth decay.
-It has anti-inflammatory properties and may prove more beneficial for weight loss than sugar because of the absence of calories.
-It also the potential to treat endocrine diseases such as diabetes, obesity and more.
-Studies have shown that consuming Stevia does not affect metabolism or eating habits in the short term. This means that people do not tend to overeat after eating a meal made with Stevia instead of sugar. Also, the insulin level of study participants remained lower after eating Stevia than after other sugar substitutes like sucrose or aspartame.
Recent studies have found that Stevia now accounts for 40% of all food sweeteners. It is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. for toothpaste and mouthwashes. In addition, because of the patentable property of the product, it has been used by various manufacturers including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in their sugar-free products.
Although Stevia offers an excellent alternative for sugar because it has no calories, better controls insulin levels, and blood sugar, and does not seem to be as detrimental to dental health, it is still best to consume it in moderation. Moreover, more research and experimentation is being conducted to determine any long-term effects of Stevia. So, as with anything, moderation is key and try to keep your diet whole, organic, and natural, without any added sweeteners.
In addition to Stevia there are other natural sweeteners that are good for you. Here is a link from Functional Medicine Specialist Dr. AXE. https://youtu.be/Z2Vo8g881CY
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Yours in health and wellness,