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You may be surprised to learn that sugar makes up for an entire ten percent of calories that Americans consume per day. With such a high level of consumption, it is no wonder we are noticing adverse effects such as increased incidences of Diabetes. According to Harvard Health , consuming a diet rich in sugar not only leads to a higher possibility of developing Diabetes, but is also a significant contributor to weight gain , heart disease, dental problems, lethargy, and high blood pressure. Fortunately, there are alternatives and arguably the best is Stevia. In fact, the health benefits of Stevia far outweigh other sweeteners such as Aspartame (better known as Equal or Nutrasweet) which has rather dubious health credentials , to say the least.
What is Stevia
Contrary to popular belief, the health benefits of stevia have been known for centuries. It has been a popular sweetener in its country of origin, South America, for over 200 hundred years . Stevia is the ground and crystallized form of the Stevia plant that is indigenous to South America. The plant itself, formally known as Stevia Rebaudiana, is part of the Sunflower and Chrysanthemum family. Due to its popularity as an all-natural sweetener, the plant is now cultivated worldwide, including in the United States.
Its sweetness derives from a compound in the plant known as steviol glycosides. Each of these compounds has a level of sweetness. When the plant is purified, the components are what mainly led to the plant’s sweetness. Stevia itself is known to be 400 times sweeter than traditional sugar.
How Stevia Benefits Your Health
Not only is it an all-natural sweetener with essentially zero calories, but it is also a product that is good for your health in general. Below are the main ways that Stevia has been found to improve your health:
- Control Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
One of the main reasons it is touted as a beneficial product is that stevia has been found to control blood sugar and insulin levels. According to Life Extension , Stevia is able to reduce post-meal glucose levels by 18 percent. In studies conducted, individuals who used an artificial sweetener instead of regular sugar were able to eat less, which in turn reduced their blood sugar levels. Furthermore, Stevia not only provided them with the sweetness they desired in their diet, but it allowed them to feel fuller for a longer period of time.
- Weight Loss
Stevia is ideal for individuals who want to lose weight. By substituting for regular sugar, assuming that your regular sugar consumption is five to ten percent of your diet, you will be able to cut out nearly all of the calories that you intake from sugar. In addition, according to Natural News , substituting Stevia will also lower your blood sugar levels, in general, providing for healthier bodily health. With adequate blood sugar levels, you will also notice an increase in energy and feel far less lethargic than usual.
- Prevents Tooth Decay
Tooth decay can lead to costly dentist visits and it can also lower your confidence. Rather than struggle through these problems, substituting sugar intake can be a positive choice. Healing Teeth Naturally points out that Stevia hinders the production of plaque, which is the leading cause of tooth decay over time. By preventing the development of plaque, you can worry less about a decrease in your dental health.
The great thing about stevia is there are many brands that you can choose from. Described below are the top brands that have gained widespread notice for their quality.
- Stevia in the Raw
This sweetener is popular because it is an all-natural form that is also gluten-free and that has absolutely zero calories. The product includes tiny packets of tablets. This helps you to account for how much you are using. Generally, you only need one tablet to sweeten your drink or food. Each tablet is equivalent to one tablespoon of sugar.
- NOW Foods Stevia Sweetener
If you like variance when it comes to artificial sweeteners, then NOW Foods has a great line of stevia products available. Obviously, the product contains no sugar, no artificial flavors, and no additives. In addition, it can come in different forms such as liquid flavored drops, and powder form.
- NU Naturals Stevia
What makes this product unique is that it is marketed and produced by the National Nutritional Foods Association. The liquid form comes in many flavors such as lemon, peppermint, orange, and vanilla. These flavors can make your meal experience unique and convenient to your tastes.
Stevia for Coffee
While there are many brands to choose from, if you are looking for a specific brand for coffee, then NU Naturals Stevia is commonly considered the best option. NU Naturals can enhance your coffee in its traditional tablet form, or you can also choose from a range of flavors that are available. If you using the tablet option, you can split it up and add to your coffee at your discretion depending on the level of sweetness you are looking for. This high-quality option has no calories and it won’t ruin the flavor of your coffee either.
Stevia for Baking
Not every brand of Stevia is good for baking, which is why you need to be careful about what you use. The ideal brand for baking is again by NU Naturals. The reason behind this is that NU Naturals does not add Maltodextrin to their line of stevia, making it a better tasting and easily soluble option. This form of stevia is preferable for baking any type of pastry.
Overall, Stevia is a highly beneficial product for your diet. By exchanging stevia for sugar, you can reduce your caloric intake, you can enjoy foods without the guilt, and you can also increase your health overall. In addition, it is a wonderful substitute for coffee or baking, which means you can still enjoy your favorite drink or sweets without the calories and negative health qualities of sugar.