What is Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana). It has zero calories but is 200 times sweeter than table sugar, and it’s a popular choice for many people looking to lose weight and decrease sugar intake. This sweetener has also been associated with several health benefits, including lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Health Benefits of Stevia
The health benefits of Stevia include diabetes management, weight loss, skincare, and much more. Stevia also possesses anti-diarrheal, anti-hyperglycaemic, antihypertensive, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, and immune-modulatory actions.
The most widely praised aspect of Stevia for human health concerns is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. This is an ideal replacement for normal sugar for people with diabetes or on carbohydrate-controlled diets because they can eat sweet foods without worrying about diabetic complications.
Aids in Weight Loss
Stevia is possibly low in calories and is anywhere from 40-300x sweeter than sugar, depending on the prevalence of certain extracts in the species variety. This means that people can eat foods like cakes, cookies, and candies made with Stevia without worrying about gaining plenty of calories from sugars, so they won’t hurt their chances of successfully losing weight. This can also help in controlling excess sugar content in children’s diet.
Regulates Blood Pressure
As mentioned, stevioside is a type of glycoside. Still, there are other glycosides in Stevia that can relax the blood vessels, increase urination, and facilitate the elimination of sodium from the body. This means that less stress is put on the cardiovascular system, and there can be a drop in blood pressure, which protects heart health and prevents certain conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Possible Anticancer Potential
The possibly rich source of antioxidant compounds found in Stevia makes it an ideal dietary supplement for the prevention of various cancers, including pancreatic cancer. stevia leaf extracts exhibit a high degree of antioxidant activity
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Consumption of Stevia leads to a significant reduction in bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and an increase in the HDL cholesterol levels, which is healthy cholesterol and is essential for a good lipid profile.
Aids in Maintaining Oral Health
Stevia has been found to reduce bacterial formation in the mouth, making it a popular additive for toothpaste and mouthwashes. It may also prevent cavities and gingivitis, which sucrose certainly doesn’t do!
Helps Improve Skin Care
Stevia is useful against skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. Topical application inhibits the spread of bacteria and acts as a steroid in these situations, making it a popular option for many people who can’t get relief from these conditions.
Stevia, unlike sugar, may aid in increasing bone mineral density and treating osteoporosis. A study on animals shows its importance in increased calcium metabolism, and researchers are trying to find out how it could be used for human health.
Stevia Does Not Cause any Allergy
It is found that stevia glycosides are not reactive and are not mobilized to reactive compounds. Because of this reason, there are lesser chances of Stevia causing any skin or body allergy.
Prevents Renal Cysts
Stevia doesn’t affect the renal tubes or harm the renal functions if consumed in moderation. Certain studies show that stevia inhibits the growth of a cyst in kidneys and can treat polycystic kidney disease. If sufficient evidence proves this potential of Stevia, it could be used in the future for treating various kidney diseases.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) refers to several inflammatory bowel problems in the intestines, such as Crohn’s disease and which causes discomfort like diarrhea and abdominal pain. Compounds found in Stevia are anti-inflammatory and soothe the intestinal cells.
How to Use and Store
You can use stevia leaves, leaf powder, or liquid form directly as a sugar substitute in various foods:
- Beverages: coffee and tea
- Dairy products: yogurt and ice-cream
- Packed foods: pickles, sauces, soft drinks, and candies
- Baked products: bread, cakes, and deserts
- You could also use it in cooking various dishes at home. However, it is important to check the amount before adding it as a sugar substitute because it is often sweeter than sugar.
Note: Raw Stevia has a long shelf life when stored in a cool and dry place. While exposure to humidity may lead to caking, it would still be safe for consumption.
Although Stevia has no major side effects, it is better to consume in moderation.