Although people of today’s generation rely on digital and interactive technology when it comes to almost all aspects of life, there are still those who patronize the traditional ways when it comes to health and wellness. Stevia is just one of the hundreds of herbs that have gained massive attention when it comes to food and health-oriented issues.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is known in many parts of the world as the only sweetener with zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and a glycemic index of 0. The glycemic index measures how fast a person’s blood sugar rises after consuming food. With a glycemic index of 0, people who consume stevia can be assured that their blood sugar will stay stable even after eating.
Coming from the line of the daisy family, the stevia plant is often considered to be the best substitute for sugar and other sweetening ingredients because it is 300 times sweeter than sugar without the unhealthy risks that sugar presents. Extracting the sweet part and converting it into powder form or a liquid extract is the traditional way of using stevia in all kinds of food preparation. Its leaves are also used in making herbal medicines.
Origin of Stevia
Stevia originated from South America and has been used by the natives for many centuries as a sweetening agent and an herbal medicine. Natives of Paraguay call it the sweet leaf of Paraguay, claiming that the plant originated from their country. Historical documents written by the Spanish do attest that the indigenous people of Paraguay, the Guarani Indians, have been using the plant for a long time. It was only in the 1800s when its use became more widespread which included the indigenous people of Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina.
How did Stevia become popular?
Organic living has become quite a trend since the start of the 20th century, where people choose to use natural resources in their everyday living including food and medicine. Stevia became one of the top herbal plants not only because it is the best substitute for sugar but also because it provides a lot of health benefits without any harmful side effects. There is a great deal of stevia facts that have become more widely known among the masses including the fact that it prevents the craving for sweets and helps in weight loss.
Benefits of Using Stevia
Since stevia extracts are now widely used in food, beverages, consumer products, and medicine, people of all ages can benefit from using it in their everyday living. The benefits of using stevia are numerous. Here are a few:
- Stevia has anti-bacterial properties which allow it to be used in treating infections and illnesses sores, eczema, acne, and wounds.
- Stevia reduces the risk of heart disease.
- It aids the absorption of calcium in the body and in enhancing bone density.
- It helps in maintaining a healthy weight loss plan.
- Sweets with stevia are non-cariogenic therefore it prevents tooth decay and cavities.
Dangers of Using Stevia
While stevia is often lauded as a very healthy sugar substitute, some stevia facts that have been discovered seem to state that it is not to be consumed by everyone.
- Based on research studies made, stevia contains stevioside and rebaudioside A which are actually safe when consumed by most people. However, there are some people who may not be compatible with these two components and they may experience short-lived bloating, dizziness, muscle pain, and numbness after consuming stevia.
- Precautionary measures and warnings are always given to pregnant and breast-feeding women when it comes to consuming any type of food, beverage, and even sweeteners. With stevia, although there are no confirmed side effects, it is best to avoid using this sweetener in the meantime since there is also no scientific evidence that it is safe for pregnant women.
- Allergic reactions are most likely to occur to people who are sensitive to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies and the like. This is because stevia comes from the same family of plants.
- Not all diabetics react positively to stevia. If for some reason you decided to try it, report any medical observations to your doctor or physician.
- A sudden drop of blood pressure is as dangerous as increased blood pressure. Stevia can lower your BP but it is important to still keep a close watch on it and report to your doctor or physician if unfavorable changes occur.
There is nothing wrong if people would love to go back to the basics, where our ancestors used natural and organic resources to cure diseases, maintain their health, or simply to add flavors to their food. The discovery of stevia and its impeccable benefits had proved to the world that God’s creation could be as powerful and effective as those made by man.
Category: What is Stevia