Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb that grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. There are reports that it has been used to sweeten native drinks since Pre-Columbian times and at the moment it is being used and cultivated all around the world. Stevia can be bought in powder or liquid form, so this natural sweetener is perfect for drinks, cooking and baking, making it a wonderful alternative to the all present refined sugar. Let’s see some of the benefits of using Stevia.
Why Use Stevia ?
1. Stevioside and Rebaudioside A are the two major sweet compounds that are isolated from Stevia leaves. While the crude Stevia leaves (that you can grow in your garden) and herbal powder are reported to be 10—15 times sweeter than sugar, the refined extracts that are 85-95% Steviosides are said to have 200 times the sweetness of table sugar, making it necessary to have it diluted before consumption.
2. Refined sugar is harmful, but luckily there are healthier alternatives out there. Most low-calorie sweeteners available on the market are artificial and there is discussion about the harmful effect that they can have on your body. Stevia is a 100% natural, zero calorie sweetener that should be embraced not only for its good taste, but also for a number of health benefits confirmed in human studies.
3. High blood pressure is a serious risk factor for heart disease, kidney failure and strokes. Studies have shown that taking Stevioside as a supplement can reduce blood pressure, however the doses used have been higher than those of normal daily consumption. Regardless, adding Stevia to your diet might have a positive effect on your blood pressure when combined with healthy eating and exercise.
4. Characterized by elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance, type II diabetes it as the moment on of the biggest health problems in developed countries. Stevia use has been studied in diabetic patients and it has been proven to have impressive effects, such as lowering blood sugar levels and improving the function of insulin. Plus it provides patients with an alternative to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.
5. Stevia is also good for your teeth. Two studies have concluded that Stevioside is fluoride compatible and inhibits the development of plaque, therefore you can indulge your ‘sweet tooth’ without worrying about your dental health.
6. Though not yet proven in humans, animal studies have shown that Stevia extract can reduce LDL cholesterol and act against inflammation. While this information should be taken with a grain of salt, it is definitely something to consider when choosing to switch from sugar to this natural sweetener.
7. A regular use of Stevia seems to improve hair health. A few drops of Stevia concentrate into your regular shampoo make for a stronger, dandruff-free and rejuvenated hair and using Stevia tea as a conditioner can help retain your natural hair color.
8. Skin disorders can also benefit from the potent healing agents found in Stevia. It seems that this plant has antioxidant and antiseptic activity and it may help with acne outbreaks, dermatitis, blemishes rashes or chapped lips. A small amount of Stevia concentrate applied onto the affected skin might promote the healing process, while a paste made out of crushed Stevia leaves or its liquid concentrate can be used to smooth out wrinkles.
Stevia is available in many forms, powder, liquid, tablets and you can even grow it in your back yard, so you can definitely find a version to your liking. With its health benefits and many uses, stevia extracts are a wonderful and natural way to sweeten your day, so why don’t you try it and say goodbye to sugar?