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Every day, more and more research comes out about the unhealthy effects of excess sugar consumption.
Chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes are linked to an excess of sugar in our diets.
For more information about the dangers of sugar, check out this article here.
But if you want to enjoy something sweet, does this mean that it is no longer possible?
No would be the answer.
New alternatives to sugar are starting to take the market by storm. Among those is a sweetener called stevia.
In this article, we introduce you to stevia and some products to consider.
What is Stevia?
The name stevia comes from the plant Stevia rebaudiana.
This plant is native to South America, though it has appeared in other parts of the world.
For over 200 years, indigenous people used it as both a sweetener and as medicine. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/09637480903193049?journalCode=iijf20
Stevia is the product of putting the plant through a chemical process to create an extract.
You then use it to sweeten food or drinks.
Is Stevia Safe?
The U.S. FDA approves the use of stevia as a sugar alternative under the distinction of “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/additional-information-about-high-intensity-sweeteners-permitted-use-food-united-states
Stevia is a safe option because it is suitable for everyone looking to sweeten their foods.
However, we still recommend talking to your doctor to make sure you can consume stevia.
This recommendation is especially for pregnant women and children.
Why is Stevia a Good Option?
Despite the amount of sweetness it can provide, Stevia is a zero-calorie sugar alternative.
What this means is that it has a low-to-no impact on blood glucose levels.
For those living with diabetes, stevia is a good sugar alternative.
Stevia can be up to 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. You get more sweetness using stevia than you would with sugar.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890837/
Research has also shown that stevia can help fight hypertension and high blood sugar levels. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/14693305/),https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2014988/,(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2900484/ , https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/14681845/
Things to Consider with Stevia
While stevia is a great sweetener to use instead of sugar, it is not a miracle product.
As with everything in this world, there are some cautions to keep in mind when using stevia:
- Stevia might interact with certain medications. Please double-check with your healthcare professional before using stevia.
- Stevia may cause digestive issues like bloating or diarrhea. It is known to interfere with your body’s good bacteria. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6627124/
- Many Stevia products contain stevia blended with other sweeteners. Some of those sweeteners, such as erythritol, are healthy and help with the taste. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-stevia-safe#side-effects
- Other sweeteners, such as dextrose and maltodextrin, are known to spike blood sugar. They are safe in small amounts, but people with diabetes should be aware of their presence in certain Stevia products.
- You should also be aware that the taste is not for everyone. Pure stevia can produce an alcoholic aftertaste that some find distasteful.
- Some Stevia companies try to combat this aftertaste with additives, as mentioned above. The Stevia in the Raw company adds dextrose to enhance the flavor for their consumers https://www.intheraw.com/products/faqs/stevia-in-the-raw/. Even with this solution, some people may still not like the taste of stevia.
You Should Avoid Stevia If…
- You have an allergy to a plant in the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. This family includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many other plants. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/682.html
Shopping for Stevia
The following is information that you should keep in mind when you go shopping for Stevia products. Not all Stevia products are the same.
Finding the right sweetener for you will take a few considerations on your part.
There are many different types of Stevia products. Finding which kind that you want will depend on your needs:
- Liquid drops: best to use to sweeten drinks such as tea and coffee. You can also use it for baking and cooking.
- Powder: fine, white powder similar in looks to sugar. It works best for cooking and baking.
- Packets: powdered stevia found in a packet. It is excellent for on the go or traveling. Also suitable for coffee as well.
- Pure extract: it is the most processed form of stevia. Due to this, its sweetness is powerful.
It is always important to find out the ingredients listed in the Stevia products that you buy.
First off, there are many different names linked to stevia that you should be aware of:
- Steviol glycosides: these are the purified extracts of the stevia leaf. There are two common forms that you might see on a label: Rebaudioside and Stevioside.
- Rebaudioside: this is the most common and sweetest part of the stevia leaf, and there are many forms. The most likely form that you would see is rebaudioside A or Reb-A.
- Rebaudiana: this is the shortened name of stevia rebaudiana, the plant that stevia comes from.
To help combat the taste that pure stevia is known to give, many companies add additional sweeteners to their stevia blends.
It is essential to look at the label and find out what is in your stevia product:
- Maltodextrin: an artificial sweetener that is known to spike blood sugars. It is safe in small amounts. However, those with diabetes or insulin resistance should be wary of it. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-maltodextrin-bad-for-me#nutritional-value
- Dextrose: a simple sugar that is an artificial sweetener when used in foods. In small amounts, it is safe to consume, but it can spike blood sugar quickly. Under the supervision of a health care professional, it has many applications in medicine. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322243#Takeaway
- Erythritol: sugar alcohol is about 70% as sweet as sugar. When consumed on its own and in large amounts, it can cause digestive issues. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/erythritol#section6
- Monk Fruit extract: a sweetener that also comes from a plant. It is between 150-200 times sweeter than sugar. Like stevia, it has a low impact on blood sugar. https://foodinsight.org/everything-you-need-to-know-about-monk-fruit-sweeteners/
- Organic inulin: energy source for plants and is full of fiber. It promotes digestive health and helps control blood sugars. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/top-inulin-benefits#benefits-of-inulin
If you would like some info on reading nutrition labels better, check out this article.
You should always be aware of the expiration dates on your Stevia products.
Many powder forms of stevia have longer shelf-lives than liquid stevia.
Pay attention to the instructions that come with the packaging. Certain liquid stevia requires refrigeration after opening.
The Stevia Products to Buy
The following information is a list of the best stevia products that are available for purchase.
Each product has its pros and cons that you should consider before buying.
The list is not ranked in any particular order, but designed to give you various choices.
This section may contain affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. Read more here.
1. SweetLeaf – Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops
If you are looking for a great liquid stevia product, look at SweetLeaf’s Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops. It is a convenient way to add sweetness to your drinks, oatmeal, smoothies, etc.
The stevia extract is organic, and the ingredients are all-natural.
The fun thing about these sweet drops is that they come in various flavors, including English toffee, cinnamon, and peppermint. https://www.sweetleaf.com/sweet-products/stevia-products/sweetleaf-liquid-stevia-sweet-drops/
All Liquid Stevia Sweet Drops have purified water added to improve the taste. Natural flavors used are from all-natural ingredients.
Each container provides about 576 servings (4-ounce container), which offers excellent value.
- Made with Organic Stevia Extract
- No other sweeteners besides stevia
- Comes in 16 different flavors
- Requires refrigeration after opening
- May not be suitable for cooking and baking
The SweetLeaf Stevia company has been producing quality stevia products since 1982. They are an award-winning company that produces more stevia products than any other company. Their products are non-GMO, gluten-free, and don’t spike blood sugars. They are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles. https://www.sweetleaf.com/about/company/
2. Micro Ingredients – Pure Organic Stevia Powder
One option for pure stevia powder is Micro Ingredient’s Pure Organic Stevia Powder. There are no chemicals, added ingredients, or other additions in this powder.
It is excellent for use in various ways, such as cooking, baking, drinks, and shakes.
Their focus is on producing a highly concentrated stevia product. You only need a little amount to go a long way.
Though it might be a little pricey, it can last for a while to give you your money’s worth.
- Powdered form means it has many uses
- No added ingredients
- High Concentrated form means more sweetness
- Vegan friendly
- Useful scoop included
- A little goes a long way
- Expensive compared to the size and other stevia products
- Must be sealed after opening
- Some may not like the pure stevia taste
Micro Ingredients is a company that prides itself on making high-quality products from high-quality ingredients. They make the health of their customers their priority. They use advanced technology to get the best out of their ingredients without losing nutrition or taste. https://microingredients.com/pages/our-company
3. Truvia – Natural Sweetener Packets
Consider Truvia’s Natural Sweetener Packets if you are looking for pre-measured servings to take on the go.
You may have probably seen this product at your local grocery store or Whole Foods. Its accessibility makes it popular besides its taste.
These packets can sweeten anything, anywhere, anytime. One packet is about two teaspoons of sugar. https://www.truvia.com/products/truvia-packets
The important thing to be aware of is that this product contains erythritol, another sweetener. It only has less than 1% of stevia.
The link above takes you to the product with 240 packets.
- Comes in packets for convenience
- Ready for on-the-go and traveling
- Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
- Found in many stores and markets
- Contains more erythritol than stevia extract
- Less than 1% of stevia extract
The Truvia company has been a leader in stevia products for many years. Its vision is that sweetness does not need to be sacrificed. The only thing that should go is sugar. They strive to take the sweetest part out of the stevia leaf. So, they add erythritol to balance the sweetness. Natural flavors add to their great tasting stevia blend. https://www.truvia.com/why-truvia
4. NOW Foods – BetterStevia Organic Liquid
NOW Foods’ BetterStevia Organic Liquid is an excellent liquid option for pure stevia.
Add it to your shakes and drinks with little problem.
It is zero calories with low glycemic impact, but it is certified organic by the USDA. https://www.nowfoods.com/now/about-now/seals-certifications/usda-organic
There are about 461 servings per container, with a serving size of about four drops. Great value for your money.
- Pure, organic stevia extract
- Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
- May not be suitable for cooking or baking.
Since 1968, NOW Foods has been a leader in providing natural products that allow people to lead healthier lives. Whenever possible, they choose to use USDA-certified organic and QAI-certified ingredients to produce their organic products. They have also made investments into ensuring that they produce their products safely and freshly. https://www.nowfoods.com/natural-foods/quality-safety
5. Stur – Natural Water Enhancer
Stur’s Natural Water Enhancer is a drink mix made with Stevia. So, it is only for drinks.
It is an excellent option for flavoring water to increase your daily water intake. That is the reason behind the product in the first place.
It is also remarkable in that it has many different flavors. The link above is for the variety pack, but there are also flavors such as lemonade.
The natural parts come from its ingredients: purified water, natural fruit flavor extract made from real fruit, natural citric acid, Vitamin C, white grape juice, natural stevia extract, and natural fruit/vegetable juice for color.
See how it compares to other popular drink mixes here.
They extract their stevia from the plant with the help of gently heated water. Other companies might use chemicals and more complicated processes to do the same thing. https://sturdrinks.com/pages/natural-stevia-leaf-extract
- made with natural stevia without chemicals
- natural fruit extracts
- has Vitamin C
- variety of flavors
- travel and on-the-go friendly
- only for drinks
- maybe expensive than other drink mixes
Stur was born out of a husband’s desire to help his wife drink more water during her pregnancy. She needed to get to the recommended 8-10 glasses of water and wasn’t getting half of that. He looked for ways to flavor water naturally. Finally, they decided to make their own healthy drink mixes.
Stur is the family-run company that grew out of that. Stur stands for “Stand The Ultimate Reason.” Part of their sales goes to Charity: Water, helping to solve the world drinking water crisis. If you want to support small business and a worthy cause, consider supporting Stur. https://sturdrinks.com/pages/our-story
Frequently Answered Questions
1. Is Stevia Safe?
Multiple food regulatory organizations around the world approved the use of stevia in food products as a sweetener. These agencies include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada, and the Joint FAO/WHO Committee on Food Additives.
2. How much Stevia is Okay?
The European Food Safety Authority says that the daily recommended amount of stevia is 4 milligrams of extract per kilogram of body weight. This is the acceptable daily intake (ADI).
The ADI means that a 150-pound (70 kg) person would need to consume approximately 30 – 40 packets of a tabletop stevia sweetener per day for the rest of their life to reach the ADI. https://www.purecirclesteviainstitute.com/healthy-lifestyle/health-and-wellness/stamp-of-approval
Stevia is so sweet that you might have difficulty trying to finish 1-2 packets in a day. Your chances of getting to 30-40 packets every day would be hard.
3. Is Stevia Safe for Children?
Multiple studies have studied the safety of high purity stevia all over the world.
As such, many leading health organizations have approved high-purity stevia for both adults and children. This is due to its naturally sourced health benefits. https://www.purecirclesteviainstitute.com/nutrition-and-health/safety-and-food-policy
4. Is Stevia Safe for Pregnant and Nursing Women?
Based on their research on high-purity stevia extract, many worldwide organizations have determined that it is safe for pregnant and nursing women.
This remains as long as it is within the acceptable daily intake (ADI): 4 mg of extract per kg of body weight. Based on recent research https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/3/357, it is unlikely that women will exceed the ADI.
However, pregnant and nursing women should still practice some caution with stevia products as there still needs to be more research on its effects on these conditions. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/682.html https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27298490/
5. How much Stevia do I need for 1 cup of Sugar?
The amount of stevia that you need to replace depends on the product that you purchase.
Most products have a conversion chart on their packages that give you a basic idea of what you need.
For powder stevia, this is usually around a teaspoon. For liquid stevia, it is often a few drops.
You also might need to experiment a little bit to get your desired conversion.
Taste is subjective. You probably won’t need a lot of stevia to meet your sweetness goals, but some people might need just that little pinch more or less.
6. How is Stevia different from sweeteners like Splenda?
Splenda and its equivalents are also known as sucralose.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is about 400-700 times sweeter than sugar. Like stevia, people use it as an alternative to sugar. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sucralose-good-or-bad#what-it-is
One problem with sucralose is that it contains sugars such as dextrose and maltodextrin.
These sugars are known to spike blood sugars, which is not good for insulin-resistant or diabetic individuals.
Research also shows that it can cause people to become susceptible to digestion problems. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-maltodextrin-bad-for-me#when-to-avoid-it
Another problem with sucralose is that it is completely artificial. This is different from stevia extract that comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. From beginning to end, scientists create sucralose in a lab.
Stevia is a sweetener that comes from a plant that has been used for many years. It has many health benefits and more people are replacing sugar with stevia.
Take some time to decide if you want to try stevia. While there are benefits, there are also some cautions as mentioned in this article.
If you want to give it a try, look at the products recommended above.
You don’t have to sacrifice sweetness completely for healthy eating. I hope you have a good experience with stevia.
Let me know below any comments or questions you may have.
Seun Oyeku brings you A Peek To Wellness. She has embarked on a journey to improve her well-being, and she’s bringing everyone with her. She believes that wellness is about improving your physical, mental, and emotional health together. From topics such as in meditation or workouts, she strives to you to bring you the information that can lead to your success. Even if that means you have to take things one peek at a time.
Read more about me here
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