Do you have a sweet tooth, but have to watch what you eat? You should try consuming stevia in place of natural sugar. The alternate is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant species. Although it works as a sweetener, is it healthy for you? More research is needed, but there have been several health benefits discovered. On the other hand, there are also risks of stevia.
Benefit: Controls Diabetes
Stevia is an ideal replacement for traditional sugar, especially if you have diabetes or a carbohydrate-controlled diet. That way, you can enjoy sweet foods without dealing with diabetic complications. Unlike normal sugar made of sucrose, stevia contains stevioside. It is a glycoside compound, not a carbohydrate. Table sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. As stevioside breaks down, the glucose is absorbed in the colon by bacteria.
Benefit: Aids in Weight Loss
Compared to natural sugar, stevia is low in calories but just as sweet. Therefore, you can have your help with candies, cookies, and cakes without packing on the extra pounds caused by sugar. However, you will most likely have to make homemade foods since it can be difficult to find stevia-made pastries. Nevertheless, eating stevia can help you have some control over the sugar intake of your diet if you are trying to lose weight.
Benefit: Regulates Blood Pressure
As a type of glycoside, stevia has the potential to relax the blood vessels. It also increases urination, which flushes sodium from the body. In turn, your blood pressure can drop since you have less stress on your cardiovascular system. Studies also revealed stevia could reduce bad cholesterol levels and triglycerides as it increases healthy cholesterol levels. Taking stevia can protect your heart health and prevent the onset of atherosclerosis, stroke, or heart attack.
Benefit: Promotes Oral Health
As sugar eats your teeth and causes cavities, stevia can improve your oral health. Studies found that eating stevia can help reduce bacteria in your mouth. The extract is even used in many types of mouthwash and toothpaste. Since stevia prevents cavities instead of making them, it is also a great way to prevent gingivitis and other mouth diseases the way sucrose never will.
Benefit: Improves Skin Care
Did you know this sugar substitute can help treat eczema, dermatitis, and other skin ailments? Using the extract as a topical application might stop the spread of bacteria. It also acts as a steroid depending on your situation. Talk to your healthcare provider about using stevia as a way to ease certain symptoms and improve your skin.
Side Effect: Abnormally Low Blood Pressure
Even though stevia can help lower your blood pressure, in rare cases it may drop dangerously low. If you are a low blood pressure patient, you should talk to your doctor about taking stevia supplements before adding them to your diet. Depending on your situation, it might make your condition worse and interact with your blood pressure medications.
Side Effect: Too Many Carbs for Diabetics
Stevia is considered safe for people with diabetes and can even help them enjoy treats again. However, stevia products that contain dextrose or maltodextrin need to be taken with caution. Maltodextrin is starch and dextrose is glucose. If you consume a high amount of stevia, you are adding small amounts of calories and carbohydrates to your diet every time. If the stevia is made from sugar alcohol, it can make the carb count even higher. However, using artificial sweetener just once in a while should not impact your blood sugar and carb count too much.
Side Effect: Digestive Problems
Some people have complained about digestive problems after consuming stevia. This is more common with stevia products made from sugar alcohols. Side effects included bloating and cramping along with diarrhea. Besides that, a study conducted in 2015 revealed that nonnutritive sweeteners like stevia could disrupt intestinal flora. Although more research is needed, it discovered that taking stevia and others like it can lead to metabolic disorders and glucose intolerance.
Side Effect: Allergic Reaction
If you are allergic to marigolds, daisies, ragweed, and other similar plants, then you may experience an adverse reaction to stevia. Symptoms may include a headache or dizziness after consuming stevia. However, an allergic reaction is rare as the Food and Drug Administration considers stevia glycosides generally safe. Discuss taking the substitute with your medical provider.
Side Effect: Damage to Your Body
The Food and Drug Administration has approved extracts of stevia leaves. However, whole-leaf stevia or crude extracts are still not available for sale because more testing needs to be done on its safety. Raw stevia herb could possibly cause harm to your reproductive system, cardiovascular system, and kidneys. Before taking stevia supplements in our foods and beverages, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of the extract.