Today I am going to list out the uses and benefits of stevia. Stevia is a South American herb but can very easily be grown in Indian conditions as well. So it is extremely easy to grow your own stevia at home, pluck the fresh leaves, crush them or dry and crush them as and when needed. Recently I purchased a lot of stevia from some farmers and have some to spare. Hence I thought it would be helpful to the people I am sharing the stevia with to put up a blog on stevia.
However, I have also written a blog on sugar substitutes and their (negative) health implications and have come to the conclusion that stevia is the BEST sugar substitute available to us. You can read the research and detailed blog here. I strongly recommend that you do.
What are the benefits of stevia?
- Zero glycemic index and hence no effect on blood glucose levels-very safe for type I, type II, pre-diabetics, PCOS patients, thyroid due to high oestrogen cases, high oestrogen patients, patients with Alzheimer’s.
- Zero insulin index-stevia does not digest in the liver and does NOT need any insulin. Instead, it gets dissolved by stomach acids and processed by intestine. Hence you can even do large doses of stevia and it will not change your insulin levels or your need for insulin (type I).
- Because of zero effect on insulin, stevia is an ideal sugar substitute for anyone trying to lose weight and get healthy (insulin is a fat storing hormone, stevia has no effect on it)
- On the contrary, prolonged use of stevia has been found to reverse some insulin resistance. So in addition to weight loss, it will also help to some extent in reversing pre-existing sugar related disorders.
- Stevia has also been found to reduce blood pressure when used over longer periods.
- Stevia is also known to reduce LDL levels, provide anti-inflammatory effects, act as an anti-cancer food and also provide diuretic effects.
Which stevia to buy? How to use?
Green powders, white powders/granules, white tablets, and liquid drops all are safe to use.
Green powders are simply the dried and blended stevia leaves. So the sweetener in the stevia leaves is an active extract called stevioside and the leaves have other things as buffer/impurities in addition to the stevioside. In this case, you want those impurities so that the sweetness is balanced. Just to give you a sense, this is pure leaves and hence LEAST processed. Now, obviously you don’t need stevia in the same amounts as sugar. The green powder could be measured as one third to how much sugar you would require. This is about 30 times sweeter than sugar and has some bitter aftertaste because of the fact that it tastes like a leaf (because it IS a leaf!)
You can also use the white extract-this is pure stevioside. This obviously is only the sweet extract and much, much sweeter than the leaves powder. This is only available commercially by companies as you would need a lab/development facility to extract stevioside. It is much more stronger than sugar, about 200 times more sweet. And it doesn’t have the bitter after taste like the green powder. The same goes for tablets and liquid drops. Just one point of caution-when you purchase these, please make sure they do not have any maltodextrin or lactose added as binders. Maltodextrin and lactose have higher glycemic index and insulin index and defeats the whole purpose of not eating sugar. Whenever in doubt, just ask and I will help. This is an extract of the sweetener and hence you need very little quantities of these. You would require about one fourth to one fifth of how much sugar you would use in the recipes.
Though the conventional usable doses of stevia might not reverse blood pressure or cancer, those are just added benefits to the PRIMARY use of stevia which is acting as a zero glycemic index, zero insulin index sugar substitute. And hence in my opinion, this is the best switch you can make for your health in terms of sugar substitutes.
Hope you found this read on stevia interesting. Please leave a comment if you have questions. You can also reach out to me on +91 7045 647 489 for any discussions on health, healthy living and clean eating. The best thing you can gift your future self is that of health, and I will help you get there!
Have a healthy life!