On our Active Wellness blog, we’ve discussed the harmful effects of sugar consumption. We’ve also shown the hard-to-access monk fruit as a wonderful zero-calorie sweetener. But what can we use as a sweetener that doesn’t have harmful effects and is easily available?
Given the dual epidemics of diabetes and obesity, it’s a good thing that there’s a natural sweetener that has shown virtually no side effects with long-term usage. Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia has the benefit of zero calories but doesn’t produce adverse effects.
The raw leaves of the stevia plant can be 20 to 40 times sweeter than cane sugar, while the powdered derivative is 200 to 300 times sweeter! What this means is that a little bit of stevia goes a long way. For example, a single teaspoon of stevia extract may have the same sweetening ability as an entire cup of sugar. This ratio varies between brands.
The active compounds of stevia are steviol glycodes (mainly stevioside and rebaudioside). Studies have shown that stevia seems to help in balancing blood sugar levels. Usage of stevia by diabetics has shown significant results. In one of the studies, type 2 diabetic patients took either one gram of stevioside with a meal or one gram of maize starch. The group taking stevioside had a reduction in blood sugar by about 18 percent. 1
Does stevia taste as good as sugar when added to beverages and food? It depends: Some are more concentrated, some contain filler, some have artificial flavoring and some are extremely diluted. Some stevia extracts may also leave a bitter after-taste. And, because stevia is so intensely sweet, it’s important to use it sparingly when replacing the sugar that is generally called for in baking. It may take a bit of trial and error before you decide on the form (liquid or powder), the substitution ratio (sugar vs. stevia) and your preferred brand.
Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix uses high quality stevia extract from organic stevia leaves as a sweetener, in addition to the mild sweet taste of the organic brown rice solids. Drink to your health!
- Soren Gregersen, Per B Jeppesen, Jens J Holst, Kjeld Hermansen, Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects, Metabolism Clinical and Experimental Jan 2004 Vol 53, Issue 1, Pages 73-76.