Growing evidence points to the detrimental health effects of too much sugar in the diet. Sugar is linked to an increased risk for a wide range of diseases including type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and more. Fortunately, healthier alternatives to sugar, such as stevia – a small shrub native to Paraguay and Brazil that is many times sweeter than sugar – are becoming increasingly popular. Read on to learn more about stevia health benefits, how stevia is typically used, and the most important facts about this nutritious plant.
Stevia Health Benefits
Many wonder is stevia bad for you? And it makes sense. Stevia often sounds too good to be true. Short answer is no, stevia is not bad for you. As with all things, stevia must be consumed in moderation. Though it is unlikely, some may have also have a slight sensitivity. And of course, stevia is no miracle cure. Now that is settled, the next question would be, is stevia healthy? Or in other words, is stevia good for you? Just because it’s not bad doesn’t make it necessarily good. As mentioned, stevia is not a miracle. However, there are some stevia health benefits worth mentioning.
1. Alleviates candida symptoms
Stevia is well-known for the fact that it has a score of zero on the glycemic index. This means it does not impact blood sugar levels. Due to the fact that it has no sugar, stevia also has a positive impact on the symptoms of candida. Candida is a yeast that thrives on sugar and can contribute to a variety of health issues. However, stevia health benefits do not stop there.
2. Great sugar alternative for diabetics
Since stevia does not impact blood glucose or trigger an insulin response, it is an excellent option for diabetics that desire a more flexible dietary plan. The plant is even thought to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin and promote the health of the pancreas.
3. Contributes to weight loss
Consumption of added sugar exhibits a negative impact on weight control. Stevia, with its almost non-existent calorie count, helps promote weight loss when used as a substitute for sugar (which contains 15 calories per teaspoon). Stevia is also believed to help control cravings for fatty or greasy food.
4. Reduces the risk of pancreatic cancer
The stevia plant contains a variety of beneficial sterols and antioxidants in particular kaempferol. These substances are thought to be beneficial in reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer. Compared to sugar, which contains fructose, stevia may be a better option. Fructose remains in the blood longer and can potentially fuel the growth of pancreatic cancer.
5. May help to lower blood pressure
Some of the glycosides contained in stevia extract demonstrate the ability to dilate blood vessels and increase the output of urine and sodium. When taken in higher doses, these actions could potentially help decrease blood pressure. For this reason, stevia could also regulate heartbeat.
6. Useful in maintaining oral health
The antibacterial properties found in stevia may discourage the formation of gingivitis, tooth decay, sores in the mouth, and cavities. By suppressing the growth of harmful organisms, it can help reduce the formation of plaque and increase the overall health of the mouth.
7. Potentially reduces the risk of osteoporosis
Another one of stevia’s health benefits is its ability to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Stevia is believed to encourage the absorption of calcium to improve bone density in the body.
Apart from the stevia health benefits mentioned, stevia is thought to have a positive effect on the issues listed below. This is due to the fact that stevia contains high amounts of antioxidants and antibacterial substances. Of course, these effects are relatively mild, but they can potentially enhance more potent remedies.
- Reduce chronic fatigue
- Strengthen the immune system to fight off colds and the flu
- Contribute to the healing of skin issues such as cuts, rashes, or wounds
- Boost mental capacity
- Reduce withdrawal symptoms during tobacco and alcohol recovery
Nutritional Value of Stevia
The nutritional value of stevia is more based around what it does not contain versus what it does. A few of the attractive qualities of stevia’s nutrition facts include:
- Zero fat
- Almost zero calories
- No cholesterol
- Minimal carbohydrates (usually a little under a gram per serving)
However, stevia benefits do not end there. In addition to its impressive lack of fat and calories, the unprocessed leaves also contain trace amounts of vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Stevia has been used in for hundreds of years as a sweetener as well as for traditional medicinal uses such as:
- Treating burns
- Soothing colic
- Reducing heartburn
- Improving indigestion
- Calming stomach issues
Of course, given its nutritional content, the main stevia benefits are related to its sweet taste and lack of sugars. Stevia is indeed quite popular as a sugar substitute. It is estimated that over 5,000 food and beverage items include the use of stevia.
You can dry and crush stevia leaves at home, to make your own stevia sweetener. Stevia leaves can also be turned into a liquid. You can buy liquid stevia sweetner in many shops and supermakets. Certain brands even offer drops in flavors such as mint, chocolate, root beer, and vanilla cream.
Using stevia as a sugar replacement in recipes can take some experimentation, since the level of sweetness is so much higher than regular sugar and the taste varies from brand to brand. Generally, it is better if you start out by using just a pinch of stevia, and gradually increase the quantity.
To make a delicious cup of stevia tea, steep 1 teaspoon of stevia leaves for 5 to 7 minutes in a cup of hot water. This tea may have a positive effect on hyperglycemia, encourage the digestive process to operate smoothly, and also contribute to a boost in energy.
As mentioned earlier, stevia’s antibacterial properties make it beneficial to oral health. For this reason, stevia is sometimes used as a mouthwash or as an addition to toothpaste.
- To make a simple stevia mouthwash, begin by adding 3 to 4 drops of stevia to a cup of warm water and gargle several times per day.
- To make stevia toothpaste, simple mix 2 drops of extract into your normal toothpaste.
Homemade Dandruff Treatment
Another use of stevia is as a dandruff fighter. It seems stevia is thought can benefit the hair and scalp. Due to its antibacterial properties, stevia can inhibit the spread of dandruff. And because it is so mild, stevia doesn’t irritate the scalp, which can further contribute to the reduction of dandruff. To make a stevia scalp treatment at home, use about 3 to 4 drops of concentrated stevia. You can mix this stevia concentrate with your normal shampoo to help promote healthier hair.
Overall, stevia health benefits make it a worthwhile addition to your dietary plan. The most popular use is as an alternative to sugar. But the stevia health benefits make it much more than a mere sugar substitute.
Have you ever tried stevia? What are your favorite ways to use it?