Stevia: Health Benefits, Side Effects and more

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Let’s know about magic leaf Stevia, a boon for diabetics

Stevia are leaves of the South American rebaudiana plant that are used to make stevia, a sugar replacement. Steviol glycosides, which have a strong sweet flavour, are compounds found in the leaves. The leaves of the stevia plant are used to make stevia, a natural sweetener. Many people who are trying to cut back on sugar and lose weight often choose this option because it is 200 times sweeter than table sugar and contains no calories.

It contains 8 different types of glycosides, compounds that are purified and extracted from the plant, namely: Stevioside, Rebaudioside A, C, D, E, and F, Steviolbioside, glycosides. These glycosides are used to make stevia products, the most common glycoside is Rebaudioside A (Additionally, this sweetener has been linked to several health advantages, including decreased cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Stevia is available in powder or liquid form in the baking supplies or health food sections of supermarkets and natural food stores.

Truvia and Pure Via are both stevia-based products, as is SweetLeaf, a brand of sweetener derived from stevia extract. Numerous types available in the market are extensively processed and mixed with other sweeteners, like maltodextrin, erythritol, and dextrose, which may change their potential health benefits. Additionally, some supermarkets carry generic stevia products. While some perceive stevia as bitter, others perceive it as tasting similar to menthol. To test if you enjoy the taste, try it in your muesli or sprinkled over your morning coffee.

stevia leaves

Stevia leaf extract is frequently used as a healthy and safe sugar substitute, with the ability to lower blood sugar levels, calorie intake, and dental cavity risk. 

Now let’s talk about the health benefits of stevia and the side effects of stevia

Health Benefits of Stevia

Unlike other sugar alternatives, stevia is a natural substance. Stevia leaves have long been used to sweeten beverages like tea in South America and Asia. stevia contributes few or no calories to your diet, it might be a healthy replacement for sugar.

It helps with diabetes

If you have diabetes, stevia can help you keep your blood sugar levels in check and sweeten your yoghurt or hot tea without consuming additional carbs. Because stevia does not affect blood sugars much, people with type II diabetes can use it in place of sugar. However, if used in excess, some artificial sweeteners might not be as beneficial. Further studies on stevia’s potential advantages for diabetes are needed.

The development of diabetes and obesity can be prevented by substituting non-caloric sweets for sucrose. Sweeteners without calories can be categorised as natural (stevia) or artificial (sucralose). In the processing phase, Reb A is separated from the other leaves by soaking them in water and running them through an alcohol filter. After drying and crystallising, the extract is then mixed with additional sweets and fillers. Additionally offered as liquids and powders are pure extracts prepared just from Reb A.

Weight loss

Stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener and contains zero calories compared with sugar, which has 16 calories in one tablespoon. Thus, stevia may be useful for you if you are trying to lose weight or want to maintain your current weight. A healthy weight management program. It may help you lose weight and lower your risk of obesity and related health conditions. However, some studies have shown weight gain due to how the brain reacts to sweetness with signs to eat more.

Tooth decay prevention

 Stevia does not trigger tooth decay or dental cavities. Therefore, you may come across some oral hygiene products, such as stevia-included mouthwash.

One interesting fact about Stevia is that it is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose and gives a pleasant taste to food and beverages.

Sweet Fact

There are, nevertheless, certain safety issues. Stevia is available in various forms, including powder, liquid, and tablets. While you cannot cook with it, you can use it in coffee, tea, smoothies, and even some baked goods.

Is it safe to use stevia daily?

Stevia is generally considered safe for most people. However, some people may experience side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. One side effect of Stevia is that it can also interact with some medications. So, it is mandatory to talk to your doctor before using Stevia.

Side effects of Stevia

Nausea: Some people may experience nausea after consuming whole-leaf Stevia. It is usually a mild side effect and goes away on its own. It often happens when you reach the bitter aftertaste 

Vomiting: In rare cases, Stevia can cause vomiting. It happens because the chemicals in the plant irritate the gut lining, causing vomiting. It could also be due to an allergic reaction to stevia 

 Diarrhoea: Stevia can also cause diarrhoea and other digestive issues in some people. It is usually a mild side effect and goes away on its own. People who overconsume this plant may have diarrhoea.

Headache: Some people may experience headaches after consuming Stevia. It is usually a mild side effect and goes away on its own.

Stomach Cramps: Stevia can also cause stomach cramps in some people. It is usually a mild side effect and goes away on its own.

Bitter Aftertaste: Stevia has a slightly bitter aftertaste that some people may find unpleasant. 

To find the proper dosage of Stevia, you must consult a doctor. While you add them to your tea and coffee, it is essential to know if using it in every meal is healthy.

You can also follow the below general guidelines for using Stevia mixture:

1. Stevia Leaves: Use the leaves of the stevia plant to make tea. The recommended dosage is 1-2 teaspoons of stevia leaves per cup of water. Leaves are easy to pluck and you can even keep a small plant in your house. Some people like to calculate their sugar intake per kilogram of body weight, but that is not the right approach. Use in proper measurement.

2. Stevia Extract: Stevia extract is available in liquid, powder, and tablet form. Use only 1-2 drops of liquid stevia extract or 1/4 teaspoon of powder or tablets per cup of food or beverage.

3. Stevia-sweetened Products: You can buy stevia-sweetened food additives from the supermarket. The recommended dosage for these products varies depending on the product. It is essential to start with a small amount of Stevia and taste as you go. 

Precautions to take before using stevia

Stevia has its pros and cons. Keep the following generally recognized tips in mind before using stevia:

Risk of inadequate calorie intake: Growing children need adequate calories for their healthy growth. However, they may get inadequate calories by consuming stevia-sweetened foods and beverages every day.

Possibility of developing very low blood pressure: Evidence suggests that some chemicals in stevia can lower blood pressure, even if you already have low blood pressure.

Doubt regarding its safety during pregnancy and lactation: No evidence proves that stevia intake is safe in pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, to be on the safe side, it is best to avoid the use of stevia while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

While raw stevia is not approved by the FDA for consumption, pure extracts are considered as safe. The FDA only approved highly purified steviol. glycosides from stevia leaves are safe to use. You can use stevia like your table sugar. Stevia can be included in your favourite food and drinks, cereals. Always check the package before you use as each brand has its sugar-to-stevia ratio. If you use too much it can cause bitter aftertaste.

Summary

As mentioned above stevia extract is a super food, yet it must be used with precaution. People who are using medication for diabetes, may not use it at all. Some studies say about blood clots due to the consumption of stevia. Stevia is a nonnutritive sweetener, that reduces sugar spikes in the body. If you want to use this sweetener regularly, use its leaf instead. You should consult your doctor before using stevia.

You can buy Stevia powder from Amazon

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