Stevia is a plant also known as Stevia rebaudiana which is a member of the chrysanthemum family. In case you are thinking of growing the plant at home, you need to become aware that it is different from stevia that you can buy commercially as a sugar substitute. Stevia sugar found in most grocery stores does not come from the whole leaf as they are highly refined leave extract rebaudioside A. This type of sugar is 200 times sweeter compared to your table sugar.
Sweeteners produced from Reb-A are called “novel sweeteners” as it is created with a mixture of a sugar alcohol erythritol and dextrose which is glucose. Stevia sweeteners are FDA approved and they favor the claim “natural flavors” as long as the product does not contain any synthetic and artificial flavors.
1. Help in Diabetes High Blood Pressure Management
The elevated blood pressure level in the body is the culprit of many life-threatening diseases like stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure. A study conducted using a double-blinded method with 174 Chinese patients who took a placebo pill made from 500 mg of stevioside three times a day shows a decrease in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Aside from that, it is also related to a decreased risk of having a condition called Left Ventricular Hypertrophy that is caused by high blood pressure.
Another common disease is diabetes type 2 characterized by increased blood sugar level due to insulin resistance, and sugar substitute from stevia plant can reduce the risk of this condition by improved the normal function of insulin.
2. Help in Oral, Skin Health and Pancreatic Cancer
According to many scientific studies, stevia plant contains a good amount of sterols as well as antioxidants that include quercetin, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, isosteviol, and isoquercitin which are essential in reducing the risk of having pancreatic cancer. Another benefit is the fact that it reduces the formation of bacteria found in the mouth thus preventing the formation of cavities as well as gingivitis compared to using commercially available toothpaste and mouthwash.
3. Help in Weight Management and other Vulnerable Group
Stevia sugar is recommended for a well-balanced diet to control sugar intake without the need to forgo sweet treats. The main cause of obesity and overweight is related to a sedentary lifestyle like long hours of sitting and decrease physical activities accompanied by consumption of high sugary foods. Also, health professionals in different parts of the globe support the use of stevia sweetener as safe to use for pregnant and lactating women, children, and individuals with allergies and diabetic people.
4. Help in Diabetes and Allergies
A study conducted by the European Food Safety Committee or EFSA said that the use of steviol glycoside is not reactive when metabolized, therefore, it is less likely to cause allergic reactions when eaten in foods. Also, researches show that stevia plant has zero calories and carbohydrates making it ideal for diabetics and people who need to lose weight. It is also an approved sugar for a ketogenic diet. It will not result to alleviate blood sugar level that makes it the best substitute to table sugar.
5. Help in Cancer Prevention
Stevia leaves are very rich in antioxidants such as kaempferol, quercetin, and other natural compounds that are effective in reducing free radicals within the body. This is in return prevents the development of cancer cells. The good thing about consuming plant compounds is its ability to stop premature aging and improve cognitive functions.
6. Some Concerns
Raw stevia plant according to some studies may affect kidneys, cardiovascular systems, and reproductive systems when consumed raw. People who are in low blood sugar medication should be very cautious as the plant can interact with this drug. Stevia is known to be safe for diabetics but there are several commercial brands with maltodextrin and dextrose that you need to cut off from your choices.