Benefits of Using Stevia as a Sweetener :
The most obvious benefit of Stevia sweetener is that overweight or diabetic people can enjoy sweet products in a way that would be harmful to them if made with sugar. There are other health benefits as well, however. For diabetics, not only does Stevia sweetener not cause the spike in blood sugar levels that sugar does, but also research shows it actually increases the body’s ability to produce insulin. This helps to reverse diabetes.
Studies also show that hypertension may be alleviated by taking a Stevia sweetener supplement. Osteoporosis is another disease that can be treated with Stevia sweetener, as studies show the bones are better able to repair themselves when a patient is treated with the extract.
The raw ingredients found in Stevia sweetener can also be used as an antiseptic, because they prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms. This property allows for the use of Stevia’s raw ingredients as a skin care supplement, helping to treat acne and other bacterial skin problems.
Unlike sugar, Stevia sweetener is non-fermentable. This means it does not cause cavities, so it is a good sugar substitute for children as well.
Side effects of Using Stevia Sweetener’s :
The first study testing the toxicity and possible harmful Stevia side effects was conducted in 1931 and showed no toxic tendencies. The study also concluded the sweetening elements in Stevia remained unchanged in the digestive tract. This indicated that the metabolic processes in the human body were not producing harmful elements that could cause negative Stevia side effects.
During the 1960s Japan banned many sugar substitutes in an effort to reduce chemicals in food, feeling that many of them had negative side effects. The Japanese then rigorously tested the all-natural Stevia sweeteners for their use as replacements for chemical-laden sugar substitutes. They found that Stevia created no harmful side effects at all.
One study in 1985 allegedly found a byproduct of Stevia called “Steviol” could have harmful mutational side effects. The Stevia side effect was found to affect only a single strain of bacteria.
A follow up study performed the next year found the previous study was flawed and could not identify any harmful side effects from use of the Stevia herb.
Most recently, in 2006, the World Health Organization completed a study that again showed no harmful Stevia side effects and implied current regulation by the European Union and the United States is excessive.
The most powerful evidence of the lack of harmful Stevia side effects are the millions of Japanese who for over three decades have been regularly ingesting Stevia. Likewise, South American societies have used the Stevia leaf for at least hundreds of years without demonstrating any negative side effects.
Studies have found Stevia produces only beneficial side effects.
Stevia has been used to treat diabetes and heartburn in South America for generations. Further, alleviation of hypertension is another beneficial Stevia side effect.
PepsiCo and CocaCola have already announced their plans to use Stevia in some of their beverages once this approval process is complete.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a small shrub native to North and South America, in which the sweetener stevia is extracted from the leaf. It is also commonly referred to as sweet leaf and/or sugar leaf.
Stevia is used commercially as a sweetener, having up to 50 – 400 times the sweetness of sugar.
The stevia extract possesses a unique ability to sweeten, which has been used for hundreds of years dating back to native cultures. Today, Stevia is grown primarily in the United States, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, Israel, China, and Thailand.
Stevia has gained increased attention with the rise in demand for a alternative to sugar, which is low in carbohydrates and calorie free. Medical research has also shown possible benefits in treating obesity and high blood pressure, improving digestion, increasing gastrointestinal function, and promoting minor illness recovery.
Stevia is currently available in various forms, such as stevia leaves, stevia liquid extract, and as a powdered stevia extract.
Stevia and Health
Nutrition, healthy eating, and exercise are all important factors in most weight loss programs. Stevia can also be easily integrated into any weight loss program as an alternative to sugar. Since stevia is sugarless and contains no calories, it can aide in lowering an individuals daily calorie intake. Calorie reduction and increased exercise, generally makes weight loss easier to sustain for the long term.
For example, on a 2000 calorie diet, if an individual can reduce his/her calorie intake to 1500 calories per day, they can generally lose a pound per week.
Stevia is available commercially in various forms, including as leaves, a liquid extract and powdered extract. Recently, liquid stevia has gained increased attention and use. Dark and clear liquid stevia extract can be purchased from various online retailers, health & nutrition stores, as well as your local supermarket. Liquid stevia is commonly used in various hot and cold beverages, such as coffee, juice, smoothies, tea, cereal, baking and cooking applications.
Furthermore, a wide variety of flavors are available to meet your taste bud needs; such as grape, orange, root beer, lemon, and chocolate.
Stevia and the FDA
However, the Food and Drug Administration only considers high-purity Steviol glycosides to be Safe for Human Consumption.
Because the FDA have not approved crude stevia extracts and stevia leaves as a food additive, companies are not allowed to market them as sweetening products.
The FDA has approved stevia as a dietary supplement, but not as a food additive in the USA or Canada. Consequently, companies are not allowed to use it as an ingredient in their products.
It must be noted that, there has been no scientific evidence that stevia contributes to cancer, carcinogenic activity, and/or birth defects.
Furthermore, stevia has been used in Japan since the 1970’s, with no indications of serious side effects. In the Unites States, there has been speculation that the large sugar companies have been fighting the introduction of stevia, as a means to prevent competition from a cheaper product.
Stevia and Price
Many people are surprised when they compare the price of Stevia with other sweeteners on the market, as the price is higher. There is anticipation that the price will drop as industry continues to increase production.
Though, it is important to note that a small bottle lasts a long time, as the sweetness in stevia is much more concentrated when compared to traditional sweeteners.
Stevia as a sugar substitute for children
Parents should pay close attention to how much stevia leaf extracts their children consume on a daily basis. In comparison to adults, children weight a lot less.
The recommended maximum daily intake for children is reached faster than with adults.
Although there are no known stevia side effects, an acceptable daily intake level was established on a body weight basis. Though it is very complex to calculate from a product label, examples are provided of how to judge the average amount of stevia leaf extract being consumed by your child.
**ONLY USE THIS TABLE BELOW AS A REFERENCE POINT**
|CHILD'S WEIGHT (kg)|
|% of child's ADI filled, based on weight||10||20||30||40||50|
|Breakfast cereals, 30 g||26%||13%||9%||7%||5%|
|Dairy drinks, 245 g||123%||61%||41%||31%||25%|
|Jams/jellies, 17 g||15%||8%||5%||4%||3%|
|Hard candy, 15 g||26%||13%||9%||7%||5%|