Everything You Need to Know About Stevia Sweeteners
What do you need to know about stevia sweeteners?
- They are derived from a specific plant
- They are sweeter than sugar
- They are safe for children and pregnant women
- Boosts energy metabolism
- Helps with weight loss
- Help keep blood sugar levels in check
- Lower bad cholesterol levels
- May help combat cancer
- They are available in different forms
Stevia sweeteners are 100% natural sweeteners derived from a green leafy plant that grows in South America. As a healthier alternative to sugar, stevia sweetness provides satisfaction from enjoying the taste of something sweet with low calories. This comprehensive guide rounds up everything you need to know about stevia sweeteners including how they are produced, what their science-backed benefits are, and how you can consume them. Continue reading on to learn more.
They Are Derived from A Specific Plant
There are hundreds of species of the stevia plant, but Stevia Rebaudiana is the one that contains natural chemicals that make its leaves taste sweet. The Stevia Rebaudiana is native to Brazil and Paraguay, and contains eight glycosides: stevioside, rebaudioside A, C, D, E, and F, steviolbioside, dulcoside A. These are the sweet components isolated and purified from the leaves of the plant to create stevia sweeteners.
Once the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant stevia reach their peak sweetness, they are harvested and dried. To create the sweetener, the dried leaves are soaked in water, purified to remove the bitter attributes, drained, and crystallized until only the sweet-tasting compounds remain. Some stevia sweeteners are also processed through bioconversion and fermentation.
The finished product is a natural sweetener that can be used by health-conscious people who are trying to find an alternative to sugar and eat a balanced diet.
They Are Sweeter Than Sugar
Similar to other sweeteners, stevia sweeteners are intensely sweet. In fact, they range from being 200 to 350 times sweeter than sugar. That being said, stevia sweeteners help keep calorie counts down because only a small amount of them are needed to match the sweetness provided by sugar. A little goes a long way! This is why most people who want an alternative to sugar go for this low-calorie sweetener.
They Are Safe for Children and Pregnant Women
If you have a child or you are a pregnant woman, you’d want to know that stevia sweeteners are completely safe for consumption.
According to a study, the metabolism levels from stevia are the same in healthy children as it is in healthy adults. As such the FDA has concluded that stevia sweeteners are safe for children to consume. In fact, a study also stated that there is little chance for children with type 1 diabetes to exceed the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for stevia sweeteners. You can use stevia sweeteners to add sweetness to your child’s foods and beverages with contributing to calorie levels. It is a much healthier alternative to other sugars.
Several studies also demonstrated that there are no adverse reproductive or developmental effects on mothers or their offspring when consuming even 100 times the ADI for stevia sweeteners.
After reviewing the evidence, regulatory agencies like the FDA determined that stevia sweeteners are safe for the general population, including children and pregnant women.
Boosts Energy Metabolism
The compounds of stevia sweeteners are not absorbed by the upper gastrointestinal tract and therefore do not contribute to any calorie or blood sugar levels. When they reach your colon, gut microbes divide the glucose molecules and use them as an energy source. The remaining steviol compounds are absorbed by the portal vein, metabolized by the liver, and excreted in the urine.
Helps with Weight Loss
There are numerous causes of obesity such as physical inactivity and eating too much energy-dense food that is particularly high in fat and sugar. Naturally, added sugar intake causes weight gain and reduced control of blood sugar levels.
Stevia sweeteners contain no sugar and very few calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, this aspect may be appealing. You can eat a well-balanced diet without sacrificing the sweet taste of your food.
Help Keep Blood Sugar Levels in Check
Stevia is a natural sweetener that has almost no calories or carbohydrates. According to a study, stevia sweeteners also demonstrated no effect on blood glucose or insulin response. Another study that was done among 19 healthy participants and 12 obese participants found that stevia sweeteners significantly lowered insulin and glucose levels. It also left the participants satisfied and feeling full, despite the lower calorie intake.
This being said, people with diabetes will find consuming stevia sweeteners healthier instead of sugar. Foods and beverages made with stevia sweeteners can satisfy your desire for sweet taste while keeping blood sugar and carbohydrate levels in check.
Lowers Bad Cholesterol Levels
According to a 2009 study, stevia sweeteners may help manage cholesterol. It lowered LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides without causing any negative side effects. In fact, it also increased HDL “good” cholesterol.
May Help Combat Cancer
There is some evidence that suggests that stevia sweeteners may help may fight or prevent some types of cancer.
According to a study, the glycoside found in stevia plants helps boost cancer cell death in human breast cancer. Another study found that the glycoside derivatives were toxic to specific leukemia, stomach, lunch, and breast cancer cells. Stevia sweetener contains many sterols and antioxidant compounds, including kaempferol. One study found that kaempferol can reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 23%.
They Are Available in Different Forms
With a focus on reducing consumption of added sugars, the number of products containing low-calorie stevia sweeteners has increased. If you wish to reap the health benefits of stevia sweeteners, you’d be glad to know that they can be consumed in different forms today. Stevia sweeteners are available in liquid extracts, organic coffee, and even as an organic chocolate powder drink in the Philippines.
This guide rounded up everything you need to know about stevia sweeteners. As you can see, stevia sweeteners can play a vital role in maintaining a healthy body. Along with an active lifestyle, choosing foods and beverage products made with low-calorie sweeteners is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of lifestyle-related diseases. The best part is, you don’t have to look far and wide to consume stevia sweeteners.
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