When we consume our favorite food like any sugary item, a sense of happiness and gratification takes place which leads to dopamine (DA) production, which will turn on the happiness and pleasure centers in our brain.
We will end up eating the food repeatedly for the experience of these positive feelings and because of this habit we lead ourselves to obesity and many other health conditions.
Having excess sugar in the diet can cause a range of conditions, including heart disease, weight gain and diabetes.
So to control our sugar intake and simultaneously enjoy our favorite sweets and beverages, we can switch to natural sweeteners available in the market like Stevia.
WHAT IS STEVIA?
Stevia is multiple times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. It comes from the leaves of the stevia plant, so it is a “natural” sweetener as it is completely plant based. Stevia has fewer calories than sugar and plays a very important role in weight management by helping you eat fewer calories. Because it has no calories and carbs, it is a great alternative to sugar for people on low-calorie or low-carb diets.
BENEFITS OF STEVIA
1. Many researchers have concluded that stevia is safe for people with diabetes to be used as a substitute for sugar and other kind of sweeteners. Therefore, intake of stevia sweetener does not affect the blood glucose level. And stevia is quite safe, non-toxic and non-mutagenic unlike the low-calorie synthetic sweeteners which are available in the market right now. Stevia is considered to be 200 – 300 times sweeter than the regular sugar which we use and it is also considered to be herbal supplement.
2. Stevia is also found to be helpful in decreasing inflammation (Anti-inflammatory) and hence it is safe for arthritis patients to consume.
3. Based on a study it was found that stevia lowered total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides with no negative side effects. It also increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Hence it is associated with reduced heart disease risk.
HOW DOES IT TASTE
Rebaudioside A – known as Reb A – A component in stevia is the glycoside molecule that provides its sugary taste but leaves a speck of bitterness after we consume the food with stevia in it. This is the reason many people find it difficult to stick with consuming stevia.
Stevia works by activating signal pathways from the tongue to the brain which switch on sweet taste receptors to fool the brain into thinking that sugar has landed on the tongue.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND BEFORE BUYING STEVIA FROM YOUR LOCAL SUPERMARKET:
While buying stevia, always look for the ingredients index – for stevia extract which contains Reb A, which is the purest form of stevia or look for Stevia rebaudiana / rebaudioside. Never buy product which says whole leaves as they may have possible health effects specifically with the kidneys, heart, and hypoglycemic episodes.
Stevia may interact with certain medications. It may also drop blood pressure too low by reacting with medicines that lower your blood sugar. Some people can experience bloating or nausea while some may feel dizzy, muscle pain, and numbness.
Always consult your doctor before switching to stevia while on medication. Stevia regarded safe when used moderately.
The World Health Organization defines the acceptable daily intake (ADI) as 4 mg of stevia per kilogram of body weight.
Keeping the above mentioned points in mind, you can decide whether you want a healthy alternative to sugar like stevia which is better than considering many lab created artificial sweeteners.