Is Stevia Good For You?

Is Stevia Good For You?

 Stevia is a plant used as a sweetener and sugar substitute. (stevia, does not have GRAS status from the US FDA and has not been permitted for use as a food additive). Steviol glycosides are natural constituents of the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) Bertoni, a plant native to parts of South America and commonly known as Stevia. They are non-nutritive sweeteners and are reported to be 200 to 400 times sweeter than table sugar.

FDA has received many GRAS Notices for the use of high purity (95% minimum purity) steviol glycosides including Rebaudioside A (also known as Reb A), Stevioside, Rebaudioside D, or steviol glycoside mixture preparations with Rebaudioside A and/or Stevioside as predominant components. FDA has not questioned the notifiers' GRAS determinations for these high-purity stevia derived sweeteners under the intended conditions of use identified in the GRAS notices submitted to FDA. FDA's response letters on such high purity steviol glycosides are available at FDA's GRAS Notice Inventory website.

The use of stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts is not considered GRAS and their import into the United States is not permitted for use as sweeteners.

Stevia can provide consumers with possible health benefits that are found in this unique natural plant. Gummy vitamins use a lot of unnecessary sugar in their vitamins. If you are a parent who is looking to limit your child’s daily sugar intake, then you should not be eager to accept the gummy vitamins into your household and find other healthier vitamin alternatives.

Regardless of the type of sweetener, do your research and steer clear of sorbitol, maltodextrin, maltose, sucrose, and fructose. These products may not only be unhealthy but also put excess strain on your organs.

Stevia is part of the sunflower family and is a bushy plant with 150 different species. Originally from Brazil and Paraguay, it is now grown in a multitude of countries including Japan and China. Stevia is an intensely sweet-tasting plant that has been used to sweeten beverages like tea since the 16th century.

Stevia is considered to have zero calories. There are major health benefits from this true wonder of nature that we shall discuss below.

Is Stevia Better For The Environment?

Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than natural sugar and uses only 20% of the land and far less water than is typically used to grow other sweeteners including sugar cane. Its growth helps preserve water and protect the land from excess deforestation.

In a 2013 study, the carbon footprint of stevia was shown to be 79 percent lower than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), 55 percent lower than beet sugar and 29 percent lower than cane sugar, based on industry production standards. Also Stevia farming allows even small farmers to grow the plant as a supplement cash crop in addition to their usual employment providing many small individual farmers with improved income and lifestyle all around the world. 

Does Stevia Have Health Benefits?

DIABETES: Research has shown that Stevia does not add to calories or carbohydrates to the diet. In some studies patients with Type 2 Diabetes have shown reduction in overall blood sugar and glucagon showing overall health benefits from Stevia.

PANCREATIC CANCER: Stevia is full of anti-oxidants including kaempferol which in a study has shown to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23%. This alone is just one part of Stevia’s anti-oxidant and cancer protective benefits.

CHILDHOOD OBESITY: Vitamins containing stevia can play an important role in decreasing calories from unwanted sweeteners in the diets of children. Today our children are bombarded by gummy vitamins that are full of sugar and causes their gut to be programmed to crave more sugar. These children grow up to be unhealthy adults. Vitamins are meant to be healthy and not full of sugars. That is why responsible manufacturers avoid sugar in their vitamins.  Excessive sugars and calories are linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease.

CANCER REDUCTION: There has been many studies done to provide information about possible natural ways to lower cancer risks. As a result, the regular intake of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidant nutrients appear to help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. On the other hand, studies have shown that stevia has antioxidant compounds such as kaempferol, quercetin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, isoquercitrin, and isosteviol.

BLOOD PRESSURE: Certain glycosides in Stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels. They can also increase sodium excretion and urine output.

“A 2003 study showed that Stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure. The study suggested that the stevia plant might have cardiotonic actions. Cardiotonic actions normalize blood pressure and regulate the heartbeat.”

“The intake of added sugars has been shown to contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet. This has been linked to weight gain and reduced control of blood glucose levels.”

DANDRUFF: Stevia extract is beneficial for dandruff, a dry and thin hair, and dry scalp. You may get a stronger, rejuvenated, and dandruff-free hair after using stevia regularly.

OSTEOPOROSIS: A study carried out on the chicken shows that adding the powder of stevia leaves to chicken feed significantly increased the metabolism of calcium in the chicken and decreased 75% of eggshell breakage. An application for treatment for osteoporosis with stevia suggests that it can help to promote the calcium absorption in the body and improve the bone density.

LOW CALORIES: Stevia contains no sugar and zero calories. It can be part of a well-balanced diet to help reduce energy intake without sacrificing taste.

Stevia will most likely play greater role in all food products as its benefits become more and more recognized among the public and producers.

This information is only for educational purposes and is not medical advice or intended as a recommendation of any specific products. Consult your health care provider for more information. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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