Stevia is healthier than sugar because it has zero calories, has little aftertaste, has no effect on blood sugar, and is 200 times sweeter than sugar(1). The Stevia plant, sterol glycosides, originates in South America and is part of the sunflower(Aster) family. It has been used there for 100s of years to sweeten drinks and food. Stevia was approved for use by the FDA in 2008.
We all grew up on sugar and have been suffering the consequences ever since. Lets count the ways that sugar is quietly hurting us according to studies: 1. Sugar increases your cancer risk 2. It increases your risk of heart disease 3. It causes insulin resistance(diabetes) 4. It decays your teeth 5. It increases your calories and weight 6. It is addictive due to the dopamine effect 7. It can overload your liver leading to fatty liver disease.
According to the Life Extension(1) article, the most important dietary step you can take to decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and other age related diseases, is to avoid elevations of blood sugar and insulin after eating. A study is mentioned that gave Stevia(250 mg) to subjects three times a day for one year. The results were a significant and lasting decrease in blood pressure for patients with mild to moderate hypertension. The benefits were so effective at lowering blood pressure, it is now suggested as an alternative therapy.
Stevia additional health benefits work as a diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-tumor, and immunological agent. Additionally, subjects who ate stevia felt more satisfied on less calories and did not eat more throughout the day. This is most likely because blood sugar and insulin levels remained stable. Stevia can actually help reverse insulin resistance to prevent diabetes.
I find the contrast between the hazards of sugar and the benefits of Stevia, to be night and day. I find it amazing that the FDA took so long to approve it and that its inclusion into drinks and foods is slow to materialize. But, as health oriented people, we can take charge of our own diets. I have personally been using Stevia for a couple of years now and I have to honestly say that I do not miss sugar at all. In fact, I find myself using less and less sweeteners because Stevia helps me slowly lose the taste for sweetness.
When buying Stevia, I was surprised that it was not in my local grocery store. I find health food stores overpriced in my area, so I head for the internet. Since Stevia is packaged under different brand names, just check the ingredients. It’s okay to be sweet again. L. Johnson http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com
Iafelice, R. Superfoods: Sweet As Sugar. Life Extension Magazine, 2014 Feb. 95-99