No matter what kind of fat burner you use or how much bike exercise you do, a diet low in calories is key to shedding those extra kilos. In order to follow a low-calorie diet, cutting back on sugar is essential. Although a teaspoon of sugar contains only 16 calories, we consume large amounts of sugar throughout the day as it’s commonly found in many foods and drinks. Junk food, sodas and even fruits are packed with it. Cutting sugar from your diet will help you consume fewer calories and thus, help you lose weight.
The problem is, for some people, sugar can be as addictive as alcohol or drugs. In fact, research has shown that sugar affects the brain in a way similar to that of some drugs. This means giving up sugar can be quite difficult for some people. If you are one of them, there are a few natural sugar substitutes that are actually good for you, such as stevia sweetener.
What Is Stevia Sweetener Made From?
Stevia is a sweetener extracted from the leaves of the Stevia plant, which is native to South America. There, people have been using stevia to sweeten their drinks for hundreds of years. The stevia sweetener tablets, granulates and drops available on the market are about 100 to 300 time sweeter than table sugar but they have no calories, carbohydrates or artificial ingredients.
Are Stevia Sweeteners Safe?
It’s been more than 10 years since the FDA granted GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status to purified extracts of the stevia plant, allowing stevia to be marked as a calorie-free sweetener. Since then, stevia sweetener tablets and drops have become a widely used ingredient in a variety of sugar-free, “diet”, and sugar-reduced foods and beverages, including cereal, dairy products, chewing gum, candy, flavoured waters, soft drinks, etc.
Furthermore, stevia was used as a food additive in Brazil, Paraguay, Japan and China for decades before it became available to other parts of the world. Today, numerous regulatory agencies around the world, including the Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada, and JECFA, have confirmed the safety of using pure stevia extracts in the food industry.
Is Stevia Sweetener Good For You?
As a natural alternative to table sugar, using stevia as a sweetener carries the potential for considerable health benefits, weight loss being one of them. Low in calories and hundreds of time sweeter than sugar, stevia allows you to sweeten your drinks like coffee, tea and juices and eat foods like cakes and cookies made with stevia without worrying about consuming plenty of calories.
Can diabetics use stevia sweetener? Yes, they can. In fact, one of the greatest benefits of stevia is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. Stevia is the ideal sugar replacement for diabetics or people on carbohydrate-controlled diets as they can eat sweet foods without having to worry about diabetic complications generally caused by regular sugar.
Aside from benefiting diabetics, research has shown that consuming stevia can lead to a significant reduction in bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It can also lead to an increase in the HDL cholesterol levels, which is the healthy cholesterol critical for good lipid profile. Stevia also contains certain types of glycoside that can help relax the blood vessels, increase urination and facilitate the elimination of sodium from the body. All this means that less stress is put on your cardiovascular system, which can lead to a drop in blood pressure. This can not only help maintain your heart healthy but also prevent certain conditions such as heart disease.
How to Use Stevia?
Stevia can be used pretty much as you would regular sugar. You can use it to sweeten a drink or sprinkle it on your cereal. You can also cook with it. Just note that each brand has its own sugar-to-stevia ratio, so you’ll want to check the package before using it. If you use too much of it, it may have a bitter aftertaste.
When it comes to baking with stevia, it can be a bit tricky. That is because stevia doesn’t have the same chemical properties as sugar, which means it won’t give cookies, cakes and bread the right texture. Start by experimenting with proportions or extra ingredients. For example, you can try adding whipped egg whites to cake batter or extra baking powder and baking soda to bread to help them rise.
Are There Any Possible Side Effects of Using Stevia?
In term of side effects, it is worth emphasizing that if you overeat stevia-containing foods simply because you believe they’re healthier, you can still gain weight. There are also some suggestions that, like any other non-nutritive sweeteners, stevia can alter the balance of gut bacteria in the body, but the health implications aren’t still fully understood.