The first thing that is said to you when you are diagnosed with diabetes is that you have to reduce your sugar intake. Of course, in the beginning, we want to take care of our health and we slowly start to reduce our sugar intake. But for how long can we do that? And almost every food item that is available, contains sugar and carbohydrates, so how do we stop it from increasing sugar levels? That was where Stevia came into the picture and it is widely being used as a sugar sweetener. So let’s see how is stevia safe for diabetics?
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is a plant, that is filled with sweetness. It is now being used as an artificial sweetener all around the world. It belongs to the 240 species of plants and shrubs that are a part of the sunflower family. It grows naturally in tropical and subtropical areas in Latin America. The main plant called the Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni was being used as a sweetener for centuries by the Guaraní tribes in Paraguay and Brazil.
This stevia either raw or processed is used in many products today. It is used just as raw sweet leaves in Japanese teas to the powdered form to the processed liquid form. It is being used to sweeten soft drinks and even for domestic purposes such as baking and cooking.
More About The Sweetness Of The Stevia Plant
The sweetness of the Stevia plant is derived from two steviol glycosides called Rebaudioside and Stevioside. The compound Rebaudioside is considered to be the sweetest of the two, where it is 350-450 times sweeter than the normal sugar. It also does not contain any bitter aftertaste. Whereas, the Stevioside is 250-300 times sweeter than the normal sugar and it does contain an aftertaste.
This maybe the reason why some manufacturers isolate only Rebaudioside and mix it up with other sugars. Others may use both the glycosides. So, let’s find out, how is stevia safe for diabetics and if it is safe, how safe is it?
Is Stevia Safe For Diabetics?
All of us do not react the same way when it comes to drugs or food. So, with anything, it is always important to listen to your body. Your body might react in the form of fevers, allergies, vomiting sensations and the like. Even though Stevia might be safe, you must know if it will suit your body and continue to use it only if it does.
The Food and Drug Administration has considered the highly refined forms of Stevia to be safe. However, the Food and Drug Administration has recognized the highly processed forms of Stevia to be Novel Sweeteners. Novel Sweeteners means it is a combination of other types of sweeteners. The whole leaf Stevia or the Crude Stevia extracts are not being approved yet by the FDA, though it is the most natural form of the herb.
Green Leaf Stevia
This type is considered the least processed of all the other Stevia products. One of its most unique features is that, unlike other natural sweeteners, it does not contain any calories or sugar. Though it tastes sweet, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste. It is bout 30-40 times sweeter than the normal sugar. It is widely used in places like Japan and South America not only as a sweetener but also a health remedy. It is a good remedy to control blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, cancer, cholesterol and weight loss. This is considered to be the best among the other products, but still, it should be consumed in moderation.
Most of the brands, extract the sweeter and the less bitter part, the Rebaudioside, as it does not contain the health benefits that are found in the Stevioside. It tastes sweeter than the normal green stevia leaf and it does not contain calories and sugar. It is about 200 times sweeter than the normal sugar.
This is made with a lot of processing, where there is almost nothing or very little Stevia left. Though it does not contain calories and sugar, it contains GMO ingredients. The ingredients in the Stevia, the Rebaudioside or Truvia are about 200-400 times sweeter than the normal sugar. It is considered to be the worst option because it can cause gastrointestinal problems. Worst options are best avoided.
Health Benefits Of Stevia
- Prevents Cancer
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Good for Diabetics
- Controls Cholesterol Levels
- Reduces Weight
1. Prevents Cancer
Studies show that the consumption of Stevia leads to the reduction of breast cancer. This is because of the stevioside, which improves in the killing of the cancer cells. It also reduces certain stress pathways, that help to prevent cancer.
2. Lower Blood Pressure
Due to the glycosides that are present in the Stevia, it helps in dilating the blood vessels and increases sodium production. This majorly helps in reducing the blood pressure. Studies say that it can be very useful for hypertensive patients.
3. Good For Diabetics
It is considered to be a good artificial sweetener. This is because, it is sweet in taste, but it does not increase calories or sugar. It, in fact, assists with glucose regulation. Hence diabetic patients can use it without worrying about their sugar levels.
4. Controls Cholesterol Levels
Researchers found that Stevia has encouraging and positive effects on the Cholesterol levels. This is because the Stevia extract is known to decrease the elevated cholesterol levels including the LDL, which is bad cholesterol and triglycerides. It also helps in improving the HDL, which is the good cholesterol. So both the ways, it helps in balancing out the cholesterol levels.
5. Helps Weight Loss
Weight Loss has always been connected to sugar and calorie intake. The more sugar, the more calories, leading to more weight. But if you can replace your sugar intake with Stevia, it will lead to zero calories and thus help you in reducing weight. But still, it should be taken only in moderation.
Stevia is considered to be a good replacement for your sugar. But only the most natural forms of Stevia and that too in moderation is sure to help you out. So see, it’s like getting sugar for free, where you can taste the sweet, but your sugar levels remain stable. The best way to handle diabetes!
Sugar is the new happy!