Stevia is becoming more and more well-liked as a calorie-free, plant-based substitute for sugar.
Due to the fact that it is taken from a plant rather than being created in a lab, many people prefer it to artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame.
It is especially well-liked by those with diabetes or poor blood sugar management because it has few to no carbs and doesn’t cause a sudden surge in blood sugar. It might, however, have some shortcomings.
Stevia is discussed in this article along with its advantages, disadvantages, and potential as a sugar substitute.
Stevia is a sugar substitute made from the Stevia rebaudiana plant’s leaves.
For hundreds of years, people have consumed these leaves for their sweetness and utilised them as a herbal remedy to manage high blood sugar.
Steviol glycoside molecules, which are 250–300 times sweeter than ordinary sugar, are what give them their sweet flavor.
The glycosides must be removed from the leaves in order to manufacture stevia sweeteners. The procedure starts with dried leaves that have been soaked in water and goes as follows:
The liquid is filtered to remove leaf particles.
To get rid of more organic material, the liquid is given an activated carbon treatment.
To get rid of minerals and metals, the liquid is subjected to an ion-exchange process.
The remaining glycosides are condensed into a resin.
What is left over is a concentrated form of stevia leaf extract that has been spray dried and is prepared to be turned into sweets.
In order to sweeten food or beverages, the extract is typically provided as either a highly concentrated liquid or in single-serve sachets.
There are various sugar substitutes made from stevia. These products have the same volume and sweetening power as sugar but none of the calories or carbs. They contain fillers like malt dextrin. In baking and cooking, they can be used as a 1:1 substitution.
Remember that a lot of stevia products also contain fillers, sugar alcohols, other sweeteners, and natural flavors.
Look for goods that list only 100% stevia extract on the label if you wish to avoid these components.
Nutrition data for stevia
In essence, stevia has no calories or carbohydrates. Because it is so much sweeter than sugar, the modest amounts utilized have no discernible impact on your diet’s intake of calories or carbs.
Despite the fact that stevia leaves contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, most of them are lost during the plant’s conversion into a sweetener.
Additionally, vitamin levels may differ since some stevia products include extra substances.
The liquid or powdered stevia extract made from stevia leaves is significantly sweeter than sugar. The extract has almost no calories or carbohydrates and only traces of minerals.
Benefits and possible drawbacks
Since ancient times, stevia leaves have been used medicinally, and research on animals have shown that the extract from stevia leaves lowers blood sugar and fat levels. The sweetener might help people lose weight.
However, there may be drawbacks to the extract.
Advantages of stevia
Despite being a relatively new sweetener, stevia has been associated with a number of health advantages.
When used in place of conventional sugar, which has roughly 45 calories per tablespoon and has no calories, it could aid in weight loss because it is calorie-free (12 grams). Stevia may also enable you to maintain satiety while consuming less calories.
A research with 31 adults found that those who consumed a 290-calorie snack produced with stevia at the previous meal consumed the same amount of food as those who consumed a 500-calorie snack made with sugar.
They also expressed equal degrees of fullness, indicating that the stevia group consumed fewer calories overall while experiencing the same levels of satisfaction.
Furthermore, steviol glycoside rebaudioside A exposure increased many hormones that reduce hunger in a rat research.
You could also use the sweetener to control your blood sugar.
In a research with 12 participants, those who consumed a coconut dessert made with 50/50 stevia and sugar had blood sugar levels that were 16% lower after eating than those who consumed the same dessert made with 100/100 sugar.
Stevia has been demonstrated in animal experiments to increase insulin sensitivity, the hormone that reduces blood sugar by allowing it to enter cells to be used for energy.
Additionally, several animal studies have connected stevia consumption to lower triglyceride and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels, both of which are linked to a lower risk of developing heart disease.
Check this out for stevia’s more advantage.
Stevia may have advantages, but it also has drawbacks.
It is still a highly refined product despite being plant-based and appearing more natural than other zero-calorie sweeteners. Added fillers such maltodextrin, which has been connected to the dysregulation of beneficial gut bacteria, are frequently found in stevia blends.
Your gut microbes may potentially be harmed by stevia itself. One of the most popular steviol glycosides found in stevia sweeteners, rebaudioside A, was found to limit the growth of a helpful strain of gut bacteria by 83 percent in a test-tube study.
Stevia is regarded as an extreme sweetener because it is so much sweeter than sugar. According to some study, highly sweetening foods may lead to greater appetites for them.
Furthermore, numerous observational studies have discovered no correlation between the use of zero-calorie sweeteners with reductions in body weight, caloric intake, or the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, even though stevia and other zero-calorie sweeteners don’t raise blood sugar levels, their sweet flavour may still trigger an insulin response.
Be aware that there hasn’t been much research done on the long-term health implications of stevia sweeteners because they’ve only lately become commercially available.
Stevia may lower heart disease risk factors, help you control your weight, and blood sugar levels, according to animal research. It’s a potent sweetener, though, and it can be bad for your health.
Is it better for you than sugar?
Because it has less calories than sugar, stevia may aid in weight loss by encouraging you to consume fewer calories.
For those following low-calorie or low-carb diets, it’s a fantastic sugar substitute because it has neither calories nor carbs.
By using stevia in place of sugar, foods have a lower Glycemic Index (GI), which means that they have less of an impact on blood sugar levels.
Table sugar has a GI of 65, with 100 being the highest and leading to the fastest spike in blood sugar, while stevia has no ingredients that raise blood sugar, giving it a GI of 0.
Sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), two of sugar’s various forms, have been linked to inflammation, obesity, and the emergence of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
As a result, it’s generally advised to reduce your intake of added sugar. Actually, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars should make up no more than 10% of your daily calories.
This amount needs to be restricted even further for best health and blood sugar control.
Stevia may be preferable to sugar because it has been connected to numerous harmful health effects. The long-term implications of regularly ingesting stevia are not yet established.
It’s ideal to use less sugar and sugar substitutes overall and just choose natural sources of sweetness, such as fruits, wherever feasible. However, using tiny amounts of this zero-calorie sweetener may be a good strategy to lower sugar intake.
Because stevia has a lower GI than table sugar, utilising it could be a beneficial approach to cut back on calories and additional sugars. You should keep added sugars to less than 10% of your daily calories.
Is it an effective sugar substitute?
Stevia is now frequently utilised in food production and home cookery as a sugar substitute.
But stevia’s bitter aftertaste is one of its main drawbacks. To assist address this, food experts are developing novel stevia extraction and processing techniques.
Additionally, during cooking, sugar goes through a special process known as the Maillard reaction that enables meals to caramelise and turn golden brown. Sugar also gives baked foods structure and volume.
It’s possible that stevia won’t provide baked items the same appearance or texture as sugar when sugar is totally substituted.
Despite these drawbacks, stevia works well in most foods and beverages as a sugar substitute, though a sugar and stevia mixture is typically preferred in terms of taste.
It’s preferable to use a 1:1 stevia-based sugar substitute when baking using stevia. If you use more concentrated forms, such liquid extract, you will need to adjust the quantity of the other ingredients to make up for bulk loss.
Stevia occasionally has a bitter flavour and doesn’t cook with the same physical qualities as sugar. However, it’s a respectable alternative to sugar and tastes best when combined with sugar.
Stevia is a calorie-free sweetener derived from plants.
When used to substitute sugar, it may lower calorie intake, improve blood sugar regulation, and promote heart health. These advantages are not yet fully established, and there is a dearth of long-term impact studies.
Limit your intake of stevia and sugar for the best health possible.