Stevia: The Natural Sweetener
By Brandi Monasco
Many people are realizing that sugar is doing their bodies more harm than good (actually, there’s really nothing good that sugar is doing for you) and are looking for sweeteners to replace sugar. There are so many alternatives to sugar though that oftentimes, you can’t figure out which is an actual sweetener and which is full of chemicals.
Which one should you use?
While Stevia is part of the “sugar substitute” market, it has much better health benefits than sugar. Stevia has antioxidant, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. It does not contain carbohydrates or calories and has a zero glycemic index (used to tell you how fast foods spike your blood sugar). And because it has a zero glycemic index, it is better for diabetics – and pretty much everyone – to use.
Stevia is great to use because it is a naturally derived sweetener. It comes from the same family as lettuce and marigolds and has been used for over 1500 years by the native Indians in Paraguay.
Since Stevia is naturally derived, you don’t have the chemicals added as you would have with refined sugar. There has also been research that has shown that Stevia has been beneficial for lowering blood sugar levels, weight loss, aiding in digestion and can help with skin and teeth.
That’s right; Stevia is good for your teeth!
When you eat refined sugar, an adhesive layer of bacteria is formed on your teeth. This layer of bacteria causes cavities and plaque, which can cause issues in the long term. Refined sugar has sugar alcohols which contain a lot of extra calories. Stevia does not have sugar alcohols and therefore, is calorie-free!
Having zero calories is beneficial when you are trying to lose weight. Some reports have also said that Stevia can help to minimize hunger and cravings for sweet or fatty foods.
Stevia may also be okay even in the case of candidiasis, or candida albicans, which is a type of yeast that is found in your intestines. Candidiasis occurs when the yeast grows excessively large and an infection is created. The main cause of candidiasis is sugar that has been trapped in the intestine and has become fermented. Stevia cannot be fermented, so it does not cause candidiasis.
It can also be applied to your face to help acne or other skin ailments!
Stevia can be purchased in a variety of forms such as the leaf, liquid, or powdered extract, which looks a lot like refined sugar and comes in small packets.
Stevia can be used as a replacement for refined sugar in every instance. It can be used for baking, sweetening drinks such as lemonade or tea and can also be used in homemade puddings and fruit desserts. Stevia is said to be sweeter than refined sugar, so be aware of how much you add and only add a little at a time until you have reached your level of sweetness.
If you plan to use Stevia rather than refined sugar, be sure to keep this great conversion chart on hand:
- 1 tsp Stevia (powdered) = 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp Stevia (liquid) = 1 cup sugar
- ½ tsp Stevia = 1 tbsp sugar
- 6 drops liquid Stevia = 1 tbsp sugar
- A pinch of Stevia = 1 tsp sugar
- 2 drops liquid Stevia = 1 tsp sugar
NOTE: Just be sure you are getting a pure source. And like any other type of sweetener, use sparingly. Too much can disrupt your gut and you don’t want that! (sweet is sweet is sweet… moderation is key!)
What is your favorite recipe when it comes to switching out sugar for Stevia? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!
Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
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