Benefits Of Stevia, A Medicinal Sweetener Unraveled
Health benefits of stevia
Unlike many other sweeteners, being natural, stevia has no side effects and is actually tooth friendly.
Stevia has become an increasingly popular medicinal plant throughout the world. Originally from Paraguay, today it is consumed in many countries as a healthy alternative to sugar. Best of all, stevia does not contain any calories
In this article, discover the surprising nutritional values and healing properties of stevia. In addition, we will share some warnings about this sweetener to bare in mind.
Stevia, a medicinal plant
Stevia is a natural sweetener whose name in Latin is ” Stevia rebaudiana “. It is a small shrub that grows in some parts of South America, originally from Paraguay.
The Guarani Indians already used this medicinal plant for its amazing healing virtues. However, in the last decade its cultivation and consumption has expanded. In fact, today it can be found in supermarkets as a natural sweetener.
Stevia vs sugar: How much sweeter is stevia than sugar?
As mentioned earlier, stevia is completely tooth friendly. This is intense sweeteners like stevia do not produce acids that eat tooth enamel. This is a fact that is also documented by The (EFSA), European Food Safety Authority.
The sweet taste in Stevia leaves comes from steviol glycoside molecules. This element makes stevia 250–300 times sweeter than regular sugar (2)
So with this intense sweetness, how does Stevia not cause tooth decay?
Well, the EFSA noted that intense sweeteners do not react the same as sugar in the mouth because they have a different chemical structure than sugar.
All of us have bacteria in our mouths, when sugars come into contact with oral bacteria they tend to ferment. When sugar ferments, it splits and creates lactic acid, which eats tooth enamel. Over time lactic acid may create cavities.
Stevia leaf extract, on the other hand, with its intense sweetness, do not ferment when in contact with oral bacteria. Without fermentation, stevia leaf extract does not produce the lactic acid which causes tooth decay.
Stevia stands out because it barely has calories or carbohydrates. A gram of stevia has 1 calorie and 1 g of carbohydrates and no fat or cholesterol.
The leaves of this plant contain a variety of nutrients. Its also contains proteins, fibers, carbohydrates. Along with these, it has
vitamins A and C
minerals such as sodium
However, it should be noted that the stevia that is marketed is, for the most part, refined. This is usually transparent in color and contains no healing properties.
If we want to the real benefits of stevia, and not just its sweetening power, we need to use pure stevia . This extract is dark brown and has a flavor reminiscent of licorice.
Stevia vs Sucralose
First of all let’s start by revealing what sucrulose is. Sucralose, like stevia is intensely sweet. However, what creates the sweetness in Sucralose is sucrose, which is a altered form of sugar.
It is made by removing the hydrogen-oxygen groups within the sucrose molecule and putting chlorine in its place.
This alteration allows for sucralose to pass through your body without being broken down for energy.
However, while neither stevia or sucralose should be excessively consumed stevia is the more natural option.
A major downside to sucralose is that your body can absorb the chlorine atoms. Once these are absorbed, this can attack the good bacteria in your body.
It should be noted that everyone’s bodies react differently, and the effects of sucrulose on good bacteria will vary from person to person. But in the battle of the sweeteners stevia vs sucralose, stevia definitely comes out on top.
Benefits of stevia for weight loss
Since the body does not metabolize glycosides in stevia leaves, no calories are ingested.
It is a good alternative to include in weight loss diets. Added sugars in the American diet contribute to 16 percent of all calories consumed. Stevia has no calories and satisfies that sweetness we often need in food.
Used as an alternative or substitute for sugar, and combined with exercise and a balanced diet, this sweetener is a useful weapon for weight lossand even weight control.
Stevia is a good option for diabetics , since it does not adversely affect blood sugar levels. In fact, stevia can actually help to improve it.
Its habitual consumption can contribute to a decrease in hypertension.
Reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.
Stevia combats fluid retention and prevents swelling.
Reduces the risk of infections thanks to its antibacterial power.
Stevia may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
It has digestive properties.
Improves mood and prevents depression.
Stevia the best natural sweetener
Stevia can be used in the preparation of desserts. However, because its intense sweetness is increased when cooked, less should be used.
Stevia can be found in powder or liquid form; thepowder form remains the most powerful at 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. On the other hand, that of stevia leaves is about 15 to 20 times sweeter.
It has no side effects unlike other artificial sweeteners that are produced chemically, such as aspartame.
As a sweetener, stevia does not have potential carcinogenic side effects .
It does not contribute to the appearance of caries like sugar.
Stevia safety and side effects
Stevia does not seem to pose health risks, as long as it is used sparingly. However, it is recommended to avoid its use in pregnant and lactating women .
Stevia may an cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to the plants in the chrysanthemum and daisy family.
Side effects related to stevia include nausea, bloating and gas. Some people using stevia also notice a bitter aftertaste.
Very high levels of stevia can low blood pressure.
Chatsudthipong, V., & Muanprasat, C. (2009). Stevioside and related compounds: Therapeutic benefits beyond sweetness. Pharmacology and Therapeutics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pharmthera.2008.09.007
Ferrazzano, GF, Cantile, T., Alcidi, B., Coda, M., Ingenito, A., Zarrelli, A., … Pollio, A. (2016). Is stevia rebaudiana bertoni a non cariogenic sweetener? A review. Molecules. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules21010038
Ceunen, S., & Geuns, JMC (2013). Steviol glycosides: Chemical diversity, metabolism, and function. Journal of Natural Products. https://doi.org/10.1021/np400203b