Here’s a quick fact: refined sugar is harmful to your body. While the World Health Organization allows people to have sugar of up to 5% of daily caloric intake, too much of it is not good for you. It can bring about a lot of health conditions, including diabetes and obesity which are haunting the world today.
Because of this and the aggressive campaign of health enthusiasts, people are slowly looking for healthy alternatives to sugar. And don’t even get started on low-calorie sweeteners since most of them are artificial.
Thankfully, there is one natural sweetener that tastes so good, minus the calories –stevia. This green, leafy plant is a native to South America and has been used for centuries for various medicinal purposes. It has intense sweetening qualities that make it up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Hence, stevia is being used as a sugar substitute because of the many health benefits it can give – all of which are confirmed by human benefits.
The benefits of stevia
In its pure form, stevia is non-caloric and does not affect glucose levels. At the same time, it has no carbohydrates and fat, making it a healthier alternative for dieters who are looking after their weight. Because of these composition, it can bring about a lot of benefits including –
It can lower your blood pressure.
High blood pressure can lead to a lot of serious diseases, including heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. Studies show that taking stevioside, one of stevia’s sweet compounds, as a supplement can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
It can likewise lower the risk of left ventricular hypertrophy or a condition that enlarges the heart due to elevated blood pressure. As to why it happens is still a mystery, researchers suggest that stevioside is blocking calcium ion channels in cell membranes, a mechanism similar to some blood pressure lowering drugs.
It lowers blood sugar levels that can help fight diabetes.
Did you know that Type II diabetes is one of the biggest health problems in the world? The good news is stevia can help you with that.
Various studies show that Type II diabetes patients who took at least one gram of stevioside recorded a reduction in their blood sugar and insulin levels. At the same time, stevioside appears to improve the function and production of the hormone insulin, which can help lower blood sugar levels.
It is an antioxidant.
Aside from being useful for diabetics, did you know that stevia is also an antioxidant? Antioxidants help your body fight off the damages caused by free radicals and at the same time, limit free radical aging. This can also help boost your immune system and fight diseases brought about by toxins inside your body.
Just like many plants, stevia also contains a number of antioxidants, making it healthier and more beneficial compared to other sweeteners.
It helps you lose and maintain your weight.
Good news dieters who also have sweet tooth. If you are looking for ways to lose weight and at the same time, still have a bite of that cookie, then stevia can help. Mainly because it is sugar-free, this plant has been used for many years by health conscious consumers who want to prevent obesity. At the same time, it reduces your appetite and makes you crave less for refined foods and more sweets.
It has variety of uses.
Aside from management of diabetes or prevention of obesity, did you know that stevia has other uses too? This means it goes beyond coffee or tea because this plant can actually be included in your cooked or baked foods. Also, stevia has been used by a lot of people as a facial mask to rejuvenate and smooth their skin. And that’s not all, because this plant can also treat various skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis, minus the side effects of course.
The bottom line: stevia is beneficial for everyone. Yes, it has FDA approval as dietary supplement but keep in mind that anything taken in excess is bad for you as well. Therefore, take it easy and check first with your doctor if you can add stevia in your diet.