Of course, processed sugar is not healthy, and if you have been consuming a lot of the calorie-dense sweetener, you are vulnerable to diabetes and metabolic disorders. A natural sugar substitute, such as stevia, might grab your attention. You have been hearing a lot about stevia benefits these days, right? In fact, what makes stevia so special is its use as a zero-calorie sugar substitute. A sweet leafy herb native to South America, stevia rebaudiana is often referred to as the honey leaf plant. True to its name, it is a nonnutritive sweetener, safe for diabetics. The dry leaves of this plant are 300-400 times sweeter than refined sugar, but without the risk of causing a blood glucose spike.
Now you might be wondering what makes stevia so sweet. Well, its sweetness is due to its glycoside compounds, such as stevioside and rebaudioside A. Being a non-carbohydrate glycoside compound, stevioside lacks the typical properties of sucrose and other carbohydrates. A member of the chrysanthemum family, stevia extracts have a high-temperature tolerance, which means baking to higher degrees does not alter its properties. Additionally, stevia is non-fermentative and enjoys a long shelf life.
Let’s explore important benefits of stevia.
Stevia Benefits #1: Good-Bye Tooth Decay
Unlike processed sugar, stevia does not cause tooth decay. As a non-carbohydrate sweetener, steviol glycosides do not favor the growth of mouth bacteria, which are otherwise responsible for causing cavities and dental caries. Rather, research claims that certain compounds in this natural sweetener inhibit caries-causing bacteria and thus, protect the teeth from progressive decay and death.
Stevia Benefits #2: A Sweetener for Diabetics
If you are a diabetic, there is some potentially good news for your sweet buds. Regular use of stevia for diabetes offers hope. The plant-based natural sweetener benefits might kindle your interest. The zero-calorie sweetener might be the sugar substitute you have been looking for. Since stevia lacks carbs and calories, it does not affect blood glucose levels, nor does it contribute to your glycemic load. These properties make it a healthy natural sugar alternative for diabetics.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the use of low-calorie sweeteners as sugar substitutes might help reduce the intake of overall calories and carbohydrates, without the intake of additional calories. This makes non-nutritive sweeteners, such as stevia, safe to use within the acceptable intake allowance.
Research reveals that stevia intake as a sugar substitute causes a significant reduction in postprandial blood glucose in healthy subjects and diabetics. Another study shows a reduced postprandial blood glucose response in type 2 diabetes subjects after a test meal of stevia.
Stevia Benefits #3: Your Ticket to Better Metabolism
If you are facing metabolism issues, then stevia benefits extend to your gut. When you consume this natural sugar, the glycosides are broken down into steviol, which is absorbed by the body. However, the steviol glycosides are not stored in the body; rather, they travel through the upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the intestine. Here the colonic bacteria eliminate all of these glucose units in the form of urine and feces.
Research clearly shows there is no stevia accumulation in the body. The zero-calorie sweetener is quickly metabolized and removed from the body.
Stevia Benefits #4: A Promising Ingredient for Weight Management
If you are trying to manage weight, there is no healthier sugar substitute than stevia. What gives this natural sweetener an edge over other alternatives is its being calorie deficient. This provides you with a natural way to cut down calories, thus helping your weight management goals. Its calorie deficit makes stevia for diabetes and weight management a safe option.
According to the University of Bristol researchers, when you choose to substitute sugar with non-nutritive sweeteners, you take a step toward reducing your overall calorie intake as well as body weight.
Stevia Benefits #4: Support for A Healthy Lifestyle
Since excessive calorie intake leads to diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, you should look for a calorie-deficit sweetener, such as stevia, to fight the war on obesity. Refined, simple sugars are calorie dense and a prime cause of obesity. Substituting refined sugar with non-caloric sweeteners can promote weight loss and aid in weight management and thus support a healthy lifestyle.
If you are looking for ways to reduce sugar intake, the zero-calorie stevia can be an integral part of your healthy lifestyle. Stevia benefits look promising in the world’s fight against obesity. The non-caloric ingredient surely has a huge potential in the global fight for a healthier world.
Stevia Benefits #5: Medicinal Qualities
Since stevia can help regulate blood glucose levels, it is a good hypoglycemic aid for diabetes patients. Not only this, stevia may have a calming effect on nerves and help lower hypertension or blood pressure. But it does not mean it will lower normal blood pressure.
Its blood-pressure-lowering properties are because of its ability to prevent the entry of calcium into blood vessels, which helps reduce blood pressure.
Additionally, natural stevia plant may help curb sugar cravings and reduce cravings for tobacco and alcohol too, as some stevia compounds hinder the glucose formation and increase the insulin sensitivity.
Stevia Benefits #6: A Good Source of Nutrients
You might be surprised to know that stevia leaves are loaded with vitamins and minerals. In fact, it is a rich source of vitamin C and A, B12, zinc, iron, and magnesium. Additionally, it is rich in antioxidants, making it a potent immune booster that helps safeguard you from free-radical damage. Some studies even link stevia with cancer-fighting properties. These claim that superoxide dismutase, which is an enzyme in the leaf, may help inhibit cancer cell growth. Research is still underway in this regard.
Stevia benefits one and all. It is reported to be a safe sugar substitute for people of all age groups, including kids, pregnant women, and the elderly. Additionally, it does not contradict with most medications. There are no major reports of adverse reactions. However, there could be mild side effects, such as mild gastric disturbances in some patients. All in all, it is important to check with your doctor before making any dietary changes and/or taking any additional medicines.