Diabetes and obesity are life-style diseases that are threatening the health of the young and old alike. Here, Dr. Sonica Krishan tells us about a herb called Stevia and how the nutrients and compounds in this herb can easily help to replace sugar.
Stevia is no doubt, an emerging choice as a sugar substitute as it has a sweet flavour. Although it may not taste same as sugar, it is still acknowledged as a plant-based, zero-calorie sugar substitute. Stevia has a sweetened flavour and can be enjoyed in place of table sugar as a healthier sweet option. A pure stevia extract is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, so it needs to be taken in very small quantity. In this way, it is a low-calorie sweetener that not only has the sweetness level just like sugar, but also is naturally gifted with many associated health benefits.
The Sweet Herb
Stevia is a sweet-tasting plant/ herb thatis believed to have been in use since the sixteenth century. The plant originally belongs to Paraguay and Brazil and is also grown in Japan and China. In fact, China is the biggest exporter of Stevia today. Stevia is in use as a beverage sweetener and as a herbal supplement. It is often referred to as a sweet herb. Stevia is basically a natural sweetener which has no calories. Therefore, it is gaining preference as an alternative to sugar. Apart from its sweet taste, stevia is also used as a traditional medicine to treat burns, stomach disorders, and more. However, it is the use of stevia as a natural sugar substitute that gives this herb much of its enormous credit and reputation.
Stevia for Natural Sweetness
Stevia leaves contain a glycoside knows as stevioside, which makes it pleasantly sweet. The Steviol glycosides or stevioside are the compounds which give stevia leaves much of its sweet taste. Owing to its natural origin and its availability as a low to zero calorie natural sugar substitute, Stevia is now gaining popularity as a potential weight-loss aid. There are many reasons to believe in its weight loss action and capacity.
Why Is Stevia So Popular?
To begin with, stevia extracts are about 200 to 300 times sweeter than normal sugar. This, in turn, makes it consumable in low quantities. Tiny bits of stevia natural extracts can sweeten our cup of tea or can even be used to make healthy baked food stuff.
When used in moderation, stevia does not pose any health risk. Since it has no-calories, it is safer to use regularly and frequently in our daily routine.
The major benefits of stevia include blood-glucose and body-weight control.
Stevia’s zero-calorie property, which makes it a sugar substitute in our diet, is not the only reason for stevia maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. It is the phytonutrient properties of the stevia plant which makes it a more dependable source for controlling blood sugar levels, optimally.
Recent scientific trials approve that this sweet leaf herb has plant-based phytochemical compounds. This helps in controlling blood sugar, regulating the high cholesterol, maintaining blood pressure, adding to its merit as a natural sweetener. It is, therefore, gaining priority among the health and the fitness conscious.
It is typically the dark green serrated leaves of stevia plan which have a high concentration of sweet glycosides. Stevioside is a non-carbohydrate chemical (glycoside) compound which makes it low in carbohydrates and a sugar-free sweetener.
Stevia – Herbal sweetener
Even though sugar and low-carb sweeteners are both processed and natural, stevia is being increasingly preferred for its sweet taste and for not raising the blood sugar level. Consuming sugar adds a lot of calories, contributing to weight gain and also resulting in adverse effects on blood sugar. This has an overall bad effect on one’s health. On the other hand, further medical research indicates that stevia has more benefits including improvisation of cardiovascular, digestive, and immune health, and thus remains on a lookout for the health and fitness conscious. A high-quality stevia extract is a perfect replacement for table sugar since it is plant-based, a zero-calorie sweetener with health benefits. If you choose to use stevia in moderation, it will considerably reduce your calorie intake, helping you avert health risk factors like obesity or problems associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It is, therefore, a useful replacement for sugar in daily routine.