Health-nuts have been touting the health benefits of Stevia over the past few years, and now the natural sweetener has hit the mass market. But, what exactly is it, and is it good for you?
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is an herb that has been used as a natural sweetener for thousands of years. Though it is grown primarily in Brazil, Paraguay, and China, the adaptability of the plant allows it to thrive in just about any environment.
The FDA approved the use of Stevia extract as a sweetener in 2008, and the industry has grown significantly in the last 5 years, with some even projecting the industry to be valued at $1 billion by 2014. So, you should expect to hear a lot more about it in the years to come. This is actually a good thing because there are a lot of reasons to choose it when looking to get your sweet-fix.
Here are 5 benefits of Stevia that should have you choosing this natural sweetener over sugar and artificial sweeteners:
1. It’s sweeter than sugar
Stevia is 250-300 times sweeter than sugar, so you can use a lot less of it when substituting for sugar. Unfiltered Stevia can have a bitter aftertaste, however, so be careful to use one that is filtered, such as TruVia, PureVia, or Body Ecology.
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2. It’s zero calories
Because the human body does not metabolize the glycosides in the herb, it is a zero-calorie sweetener that won’t add any inches to your waistline. Instead of using sugar to add some sweetness to your favorite beverage or baking recipe, you may want to try Stevia instead.
3. It’s healthier than artificial sweeteners
Stevia has not been linked to any increase in risk of cancer, unlike aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in some products that are labeled “sugar-free.”
Aspartame has also been linked to behavioral and mood changes in people that consume it frequently, due to its effect on the brain.
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4. It’s safe for diabetics
According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! and the soon to be released The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution, Stevia is a healthier alternative to sugar and other sugar substitutes like Splenda, Nutrasweet and Sweet & Low. And, you can use it just like you would normally use sugar:
“[Stevia] is safe, healthy, and natural. It is even safe for diabetics.”
So, if you’re looking for a sweetener that won’t spike you blood-sugar levels, or result in a sugar crash, Stevia is your best bet.
5. It may prevent cavities
It’s true! A sweetener that looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, and acts like sugar, except it doesn’t give you those nasty cavities… it prevents them!
How to Use It
Stevia comes in a variety of forms and can be added to anything you would normally put sugar in: coffee, iced tea, baked goods, you name it.
Some people experience slight nausea or an uncomfortably full feeling after eating Stevia. These symptoms are common, and go away with continued use. So, if you’re just starting to use the herb for the first time, consume it in modest amounts to get your body accustomed to it.
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Stevia is a natural, zero calorie sweetener that tastes great and has a number of health benefits. Now that the FDA has approved its use, it is being used more frequently in products available for purchase at your local grocery store. So, instead of reaching for sugar or artificial sweetener, give Stevia a try!
This article was reviewed and approved by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum
Photo by Wendell