South American native plants belong to the genus Stevia rebaudiana. Sweet leaf and sugar leaf, two of its common names, allude to how tasty it is.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated rebaudioside A, a highly refined version of stevia sold under the brand name Rebiana, as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) as a food additive.
Although less refined varieties and stevia leaves are sold as health food supplements in powder and liquid form, the FDA has not approved their use in foods. Never forget to get medical advice before beginning any new supplement regimen.
Can stevia be used in cooking?
The ability to heat and use stevia-based sweeteners in cooking and baking is one of their main advantages over other non-sugar sweeteners.
The creators of Truvia advise using a third as much of the sweetener as you would sugar. Truvia is now available in blends with some table sugar and brown sugar.
Try putting a stevia leaf in a glass of unsweetened iced tea if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth but are still interested in learning more about stevia.
Numerous positive and negative impacts of stevia have been researched. Stevia may improve mood and lower sugar cravings, according to a 2012 study that was published in a health journal in Chile.
Stevia, according to a reliable source, may be able to prevent rotavirus and serious diarrhea. This work is outdated, so more recent research is required.
Also keep in mind that the majority of stevia products sold in the US, including Truvia, are refined and processed versions of the actual stevia plant. Studies conducted on the stevia plant do not guarantee that results from processed stevia would be the same.
Is Stevia a Good Sugar Replacement? Advantages and Drawbacks
As a calorie-free, plant-based substitute for sugar, stevia is gaining popularity.
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 utilized 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 is as follows, starting with dry leaves that have been soaked in water:
The liquid is filtered to remove leaf particles.
To get rid of more organic material, the liquid is given an activated carbon treatment.
Minerals and metals are removed from the liquid via 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 maltodextrin. 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 only list 100% stevia extract on the label if you wish to stay away from these components.
Nutritional facts of stevia
In essence, stevia has no calories or carbohydrates. The modest amounts utilized add no appreciable calories or carbs to your diet because it is far sweeter than sugar.
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 has 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 is calorie-free, it could aid in weight loss (12 grams). Stevia may also enable you to maintain satiety while consuming fewer calories.
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.
The stevia group consumed fewer calories overall while experiencing the same levels of satisfaction since they also reported similar degrees of fullness (6Trusted Source).
Furthermore, steviol glycoside rebaudioside A exposure increased many hormones that reduce hunger in rat research.
You could also use the sweetener to control your blood sugar.
In 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.
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. Maltodextrin, a filler that has been associated with the dysregulation of beneficial gut bacteria, is frequently added to stevia blends.
Your gut microbes may potentially be harmed by stevia itself. One of the most popular stevia 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 also regarded as an extreme sweetener due to how much sweeter it is than sugar. According to some studies, highly sweetening foods may lead to greater appetites for them.
The use of zero-calorie sweeteners has also been proven to have no effect on body weight, caloric intake, or the incidence of type 2 diabetes, according to numerous observational studies.
Additionally, even though stevia and other zero-calorie sweeteners don’t raise blood sugar levels, their sweet flavor 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.
Animal studies suggest that stevia may reduce heart disease risk factors and help you control your weight and blood sugar levels. It’s a potent sweetener, though, and it can be bad for your health.
Is it better for you than sugar?
Because it has fewer calories than sugar, stevia may aid in weight loss by encouraging you to consume fewer calories.
It’s a fantastic sugar substitute for those following low-calorie or low-carb diets 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.
Stevia has nothing that raises blood sugar, hence it has a GI of 0, in contrast to table sugar, which has a GI of 65, with 100 being the highest GI and causing the fastest rise in blood sugar.
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.
In order to reduce your intake of added sugar, it is often advised. 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. However, it is unknown what regular stevia consumption will do to you over time.
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, utilizing it could be a beneficial approach to cut back on calories and added sugars. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars.
Is it an effective sugar substitute?
In modern cookery and food production, stevia is frequently used to substitute for sugar.
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 caramelize and turn golden brown. Sugar also gives baked foods structure and volume.
Baked items might not look or feel exactly like sugar-containing versions when sugar is totally substituted with stevia.
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. You must adjust the quantity of the other ingredients to make up for bulk loss when using more concentrated forms, such as liquid extract.
Stevia occasionally has a bitter flavor 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.
Reduce your intake of stevia and sugar for the best possible health.
What You Should Know About Stevia
What is stevia, exactly?
Stevia, commonly known as Stevia rebaudiana, is a plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family’s Chrysanthemum subfamily (ragweed family). The stevia you can cultivate at home differs significantly from the stevia you can get at the grocery store.
Truvia and Stevia in the Raw are two examples of stevia products you won’t find whole stevia leaves in. They are created using rebaudioside A, a highly purified stevia leaf extract (Reb-A).
In reality, very few stevia-containing goods actually contain any at all. Table sugar is around 200 times sweeter than Reb-A.
Reb-A-based sweeteners are referred regarded as “novel sweeteners” since they are combined with other sweeteners, like erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and dextrose (glucose).
For instance, Reb-A and erythritol are combined to create Trivia, and Reb-A and malt dextrin or dextrose are combined to create Stevia in The Raw (Bakers Bag).
Natural flavors are also present in certain stevia brands. The term “natural flavors” is acceptable provided the ingredients are free of synthetics, artificial flavors, or added colors, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Even so, “natural taste” ingredients could contain a lot of processing. Many contend that this proves they are not naturally occurring.
The leaves of stevia plants can be grown inside and used to sweeten meals and beverages. Reb-A sweeteners come in granulated, powder, and liquid forms. Stevia refers to items made with Reb-A in this article.
Are there advantages to stevia use?
A non-nutritive sweetener is stevia. As a result, it contains nearly little calories. This feature can be appealing if you’re trying to reduce weight.
But the research is still ambiguous at this point. The effect of nonnutritive sweeteners on a person’s health may vary depending on how much is ingested and when during the day.
Stevia may assist diabetics in managing their blood sugar levels.
Stevia dramatically reduced insulin and glucose levels, according to a 2010 study with 12 obese and 19 healthy, lean participants Trusted Source. Despite the lower calorie consumption, it also made study participants feel content and full after eating.
The fact that this study was conducted in a lab environment rather than a person’s actual milieu is one of its highlighted limitations.
Additionally, a 2009 study found that stevia leaf powder may assist in lowering cholesterol. Over the course of a month, study participants ingested 20 milliliters of stevia extract daily.
According to the study, stevia reduced triglycerides, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and total cholesterol without causing any significant side effects. Additionally, HDL (“good”) cholesterol was raised. It’s uncertain whether occasionally consuming less stevia would have the same effect.
Are there any negative consequences of stevia?
Stevia glycosides like Reb-A are “generally recognized as safe,” according to the FDATrusted Source. Due to a lack of safety data, they have not approved the use of whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extract in processed foods and beverages.
There are worries that consuming raw stevia herb could be bad for your kidneys, reproductive organs, and heart. Additionally, it might interfere with blood sugar-lowering drugs or cause excessively low blood pressure.
Although stevia is thought to be safe for diabetics, those that contain malt dextrin or dextrose should be avoided.
Malt dextrin is a starch, whereas dextrose is glucose. Small amounts of calories and carbohydrates are added by these substances. The carb count may also be slightly tipped by sugar alcohols.
The occasional usage of stevia might not be sufficient to affect your blood sugar levels. However, the carbs build up if you consume it throughout the day.
According to Trusted Source, disruption of the good gut flora may be related to nonnutritive sweeteners like stevia. The same study offered the possibility that nonnutritive sweeteners could cause metabolic problems and glucose intolerance.
The flavor is a significant drawback for most nonnutritive sweeteners. A faint, licorice-like flavor with a touch of bitterness characterizes stevia. It appeals to certain people while repelling others.
Some people may experience digestive issues from stevia products created with sugar alcohols, such as bloating and diarrhea.
Is it safe to consume stevia when pregnant?
When used sparingly throughout pregnancy, Reb-A-based stevia is safe. Select a brand without erythritol if you have a sensitivity to sugar alcohols.
If you are pregnant, you should avoid using whole-leaf stevia and crude stevia extract, even home-grown stevia.
The idea that a highly polished product is safer than a natural one could sound bizarre. This is a typical herbal product mystery.
In this instance, Reb-safety A’s both during pregnancy and outside of it has been examined. Natural stevia hasn’t changed at all. There is currently insufficient proof that whole-leaf stevia or unprocessed stevia extract won’t cause harm to your unborn child.
Does stevia have any connection to cancer?
Stevia may aid in the treatment or prevention of various cancers, according to some data.
A 2012 study Trusted Source showed that the glycoside stevioside, which is present in stevia leaves, promotes cancer cell death in a human breast cancer line. Stevioside may also aid in reducing several mitochondrial pathways that support the development of cancer.
These results had support from a reliable source. Numerous stevia glycoside derivatives were discovered to be poisonous to particular leukemia, lung, stomach, and breast cancer cell lines.
How to replace sugar with stevia
In your favorite recipes and beverages, stevia can be used in place of table sugar. One teaspoon of table sugar is about equal to one pinch of stevia powder.
Yummy applications for stevia include:
In tea or coffee
Lemonade prepared at home
Sprinkling over cold or hot cereal
Within a smoothie
Sprinkled over plain yogurt
Unless you’re using it in baked goods, some stevia brands, including Stevia in the Raw, can substitute table sugar teaspoon for teaspoon (as in sweetened liquids and sauces).
Although it could give cookies and cakes a licorice flavor, stevia can be used in baking. Stevia in the Raw advises using their product in place of half of the recipe’s total sugar.
You’ll need less of the other types because they aren’t designed specifically for baking. To compensate for the lost sugar, you should increase the liquid content of your dish or add a bulking ingredient like applesauce or mashed bananas. To find the texture and sweetness you prefer, some trial and error may be necessary.
Even for those who are pregnant or have diabetes, stevia products manufactured with Reb-A are regarded as safe. Side effects from these products are rare. To provide definitive data on weight control, diabetes, and other health conditions, further studies must be conducted.
You won’t need to use as much because stevia is considerably sweeter than ordinary sugar.
Although whole-leaf stevia hasn’t been given the go-ahead for commercial use, you can still cultivate it at home. Despite the paucity of data, many individuals contend that whole-leaf stevia is a safe substitute for either table sugar or its highly refined counterpart.
While occasionally putting a raw stevia leaf into a cup of tea is unlikely to hurt you, you shouldn’t use it if you’re expecting it.
Ask your doctor’s permission before frequently using whole-leaf stevia until further research is done to discover whether it is safe for everyone to use, especially if you have a serious medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure.