Attributed to Anvitha Rao (COO of Swee10)
A recent study found that consumption of artificial sweeteners has led to at least a 13-14% higher probability of developing cancer. As a result, there is a greater need for a safe and healthy substitute. That’s where stevia steps in. Almost 300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia is growing as the best natural alternative.
Known as a miracle sweetener, stevia has been used for centuries in South America where just the leaves of the plant were chewed on for their sweetness. The dried leaves were also a common ingredient in tea, as a natural sweetening agent. Today, stevia is steadily gaining popularity, with the market expected to hit 937.2 million dollars by 2027.
The sweet part of the leaf is called steviol glycosides and is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. The extraction process is a lengthy one, involving harvesting and drying of leaves, followed by steeping them in hot water. The liquid is then purified and finally dried to form the crystalised stevia.
Unlike other sweeteners, stevia can pass through the body’s system with minimal absorption. This means it only leaves behind the sweet flavour without any of the added calories. On its own, stevia possesses no harmful side effects. It is also 100% natural and is free of chemicals like Maltodextrin, Dextrose, or Isomaltose.
The myths about stevia
Steviol glycosides tend to trigger both the sweet and bitter receptors in the tongue. So, despite its sweetness, stevia can have a slightly bitter aftertaste. To mask this, sweeteners that use stevia as a base usually pair it with a sugar alcohol to mask the bitterness. Despite the name, sugar alcohols are not alcoholic. While they can contain calories, these are not absorbed by the body. Using a suitable sugar alcohol with stevia is important since neither health nor taste should be compromised. Erythritol is an example of a sugar alcohol that contains only 0.2 K calories per gram, unlike most others which contain 3-4 K calories per gram, but it still retains the sweetness.
Why Stevia is gaining popularity in recent times
Stevia is full of health benefits, which is why it has gained popularity in recent times. Since stevia does not contain any calories or carbohydrates, it is recommended as a sweetener for people with Type 2 Diabetes. Currently, there is no cure for diabetes, only methods of managing it through lifestyle changes. By passing through the body with minimal absorption, stevia does not increase blood sugar levels, making it safe for consumption. Adopting stevia into the diet instead of sugar or other artificial sweeteners is a significant step towards diabetes management.
Since it is a non-nutritive sweetener containing no calories, stevia is beneficial in weight loss while also maintaining cholesterol levels. Stevia has been found to protect the body against liver and kidney damage. It is full of antioxidants and has even been found to reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
Stevia provides all the best parts of sugar without the negative health impacts. All its benefits make stevia the perfect natural substitute for sugar. In fact, because of its sweetness, you need less of it.