The latest, all natural, sugar free product that has taken the health world by storm has also invariably raked up a whole lot of controversy. For all that it claims, is Stevia the ultimate sugar substitute that the world can finally bank upon?
In the world of sweeteners, there is a constant buzz and a lot of talk about the latest sweetener entering the market or the latest research concerning a particular substitute’s health impacts. Since most of us are aware that table sugar and all forms of commercially prepared sugary foods products are harmful, experts recommend that the best way to keep a flat stomach is to keep away from sugar. But since our taste buds are so accustomed to sweet things that we instantly experience a withdrawal symptom if we deprive our body of sugar, and hence we turn to low-calorie sweeteners or no calorie sweeteners in its stead, to make up for the loss.
Although most companies who manufacture and market sugar based substitutes claim low calories or nil calories in their preparations, increasing research on the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners is steadily damaging the reputation of most artificial sugar replacements.
One such sugar alternative that has caught the fancy of the health world in recent times is stevia. An all-natural and plant-based product, stevia is calorie free and unlike artificial sweeteners, it is derived and sourced from nature directly. This particular plant is native to Brazil, where people for hundreds of years have been sweetening up their foods with the help of the leaves from the stevia plant. Scientific research on stevia has pointed out that this natural sugar substitute is more than 200 times sweeter than sugar itself. Given its sudden overnight night push into prominence, these days, stevia can be found in a number of health stores sold in the form of crystals or liquids.
Currently, stevia stands to be the safest substitute for sugar, in spite of research under way. According to the Academy Of Nutrition And Dietetics, a research conducted on the extracts of the stevia plant, showed that specific chemical compounds found in the plant was generally considered as safe by the FDA to be used as non-nutritional sweeteners. However, the Academy also states that there needs to be a differentiation between the extracts of the plant and the actual leaf of the stevia plant, which might hold many more properties and has not yet been approved by the FDA as a sweetener.
One particular study published in the International Journal Of Obesity revealed that participants who consumed stevia crystals as a sugar substitute experienced added health benefits such as an increase in good cholesterol. In addition another study conducted over a period of two years on Chinese participants revealed that the extracts not only helped in lowering hypertension but also that the long-term use of this substitute did not produce any form of adverse effects on the participants.
At the end of the day, as with every other ‘too good to be true’ thing, stevia should be consumed in moderate amounts. Although the extract is considered safe to be added as part of a healthy diet and an agent in aiding weight loss, consuming more than recommended quantities of stevia can still maintain the addiction of sugar in an individual and could actually hamper diet efforts, in the long run.
Carol is a health and wellness blogger, who likes to write useful articles on various fitness, exercise, diet and other health related topics. Currently she is studying about Garcinia Cambogia Weight Loss supplements, to write matters on these topics.