The festive season is already on and everyone now is gearing up for Diwali, Christmas, New Year Eve, and more. As these festivals keep kicking in, the calories keep mounting. However, the good news is, all the sugar you consume in the form of ladoos and other desi mithais can be substituted by a shrub. Wondering how?
A bushy shrub and part of the sunflower family, stevia is a natural, non-nutritive sweetener that contains little to no calories. Surprisingly stevia leaf extract is a high-intensity sweetener that can be 200-350 times the sweetness of sugar. However the intensity is one of the reasons it has zero calories – it takes very little stevia leaf extract to sweeten to the equivalent of sugar. Its safety has been verified by the United States FDA (food and drug administration) and falls under the GRAS category (generally recognised as safe).
Additionally, the availability of stevia in different products and foods allows children to consume sweet food and drinks without the added calories. This also helps maintain their metabolism and reduces obesity tendencies. The EFSA (European Food Safety Committee) brushed off concerns related to the leaf extract and potential allergic reactions. The committee concluded that it is unlikely for stevia to cause an allergic reaction when consumed in foods.
Some of the benefits of stevia are:
Weight management – For those looking to manage a healthy and balanced lifestyle, stevia is the perfect option because it has zero calories. One of the reasons why stevia leaf extract has zero calories is because of the way our body digests it because it is completely natural.
Blood insulin levels – As our body processes stevia, the extract passes through our digestive tract without being broken down for calories unlike sugar, which during digestion is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. Because of this, it has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin secretion.
Blood pressure – Studies suggest that stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure. It is said that stevia plant may have cardiotonic actions that normalise blood pressure and regulate heartbeat.
Oral health – Studies suggest that the extract in stevia leads to a reduction in tooth decay, plaque and cavities and enhances tooth mineralization. It also helps reduce the formation of cavities that are usually formed by sugar.