(Photo credit: ActiveBeat.com)
We all know that sugar isn’t healthy, especially refined sugar. For this reason, people are looking for healthier alternatives, and increased awareness about the problems with sugar consumption has led to the development and use of sugar substitutes.
There are many low-calorie sweeteners on the market, but most of them are artificial. Some of these substitutes are harmful, and some, like honey or maple syrup, are beneficial alternatives which have slightly more health benefits than processed sugar but are still high in naturally occurring types of sugar such as fructose.
However, there are a few natural sweeteners out there that taste just as good. One of these is stevia, a sweetener that has become immensely popular in recent years.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a herb, originally native to Paraguay and Brazil but is now also grown in Japan and China. It is intensely sweet-tasting and considered 100 to 200 times sweeter than sugar, but it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels like sugar and other artificial sweeteners do. It has a number of health benefits that have been confirmed in human studies.
Though used as a sweetener and medicinal herb since the 16th century in various cultures around the world, it has only gained modern popularity in recent years.
Why is Stevia beneficial for you?
As an alternative to sucrose, or table sugar, using stevia as a sweetener carries the potential for considerable health benefits. Even though stevia does not strictly contain zero calories, but it is significantly less calorific than sucrose and low enough to be classified as such.
The sweet-tasting components in stevia sweeteners occur naturally. This characteristic may benefit people who prefer naturally-sourced foods and beverages. Here are some of the possible health benefits of stevia.
1. Weight control
There are many causes of overweight and obesity, such as physical inactivity and increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and added sugars. Since stevia contains no sugar and very few calories, it can be part of a well-balanced diet to help reduce energy intake without sacrificing taste. People who have a sweet tooth yet intending to control their diet will be happy to know that stevia can replace sugar in a diet to manage weight.
2. Lower blood pressure
Elevated blood pressure is a major risk factor for many serious diseases, which includes heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Studies have shown that taking stevioside (one of the sweet compounds in stevia) as a supplement can reduce blood pressure. A study has also found that regular consumption of stevia can help reduce blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension.
3. May lower blood sugar levels and help fight diabetes
Type II diabetes is currently one of the biggest health problems in the world. It is characterized by elevated blood sugar in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. Research has shown that stevia sweeteners do not contribute calories or carbohydrates to the diet. They have also demonstrated no effect on blood glucose or insulin response. This allows people with diabetes to eat a wider variety of foods and comply with a healthful meal plan.
4. Improve hair health
Stevia concentrate is believed to be beneficial for dandruff, dry scalp, and dull, dry and thin hair. People have noticed stronger, dandruff-free and rejuvenated hair after the regular use of Stevia. Also, after shampooing, using stevia tea as a conditioner and rinsing it out thereafter can help to retain natural hair colour and strength.
5. Relieve heartburn and indigestion
People in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia have been using Stevia tea to soothe upset stomach, heartburn, and to improve indigestion and gastrointestinal function. Drinking Stevia tea after every meal may serve as a digestive aid and relieve heartburn and stomach pain.
6. Heal wrinkles and other skin conditions
Stevia is believed to be a remarkable healing agent for skin disorders. Its antioxidant, antibacterial and antiseptic activity may help with wrinkles, skin blemishes, dermatitis, eczema, acne outbreaks, scarring, rashes, itchiness and chapped lips. A small amount of Stevia concentrate applied directly onto the affected skin may promote the healing process.
Cheryl W is excited to share that we will be using stevia in our new and improved drinks, which will be launching in stores soon. Do keep a lookout for them and embark on your journey towards a healthy lifestyle with these healthier drinks!