Stevia rebaudiana, more commonly known simply as Stevia has been cultivated in Paraguay by the Guarani Indians for centuries. The Guaranis were known to use this sweet leaf for medicinal and nutritional purposes. Bertoni, rediscovered this natural sweetener in 1800s and it has since been popular worldwide.
It gets its natural sweetness from the glycosides it contains, which are molecules without calories, as opposed to conventional sweeteners that contain molecules that are carbohydrate based. Because of this, those who are not capable of tolerating sweeteners or sugar are advised to use this natural sweetener instead.
Sourced from the stevia plant’s leaves, it offers an intense sweet taste but without sugar or calories. According to scientific studies, this sweetener can be safely consumed in dosages of as much has 1,500 mg daily for two years without harming your system. Moreover, because it is 300X sweeter than sugar, majority of individuals won’t even be able to take in 1,500 mg even in an entire week.
Aside from the concentrated sweetness of the glycosides contained in Stevia, namely Steviosides, Dulcosides, and Rebaudiosides, a lot of studies also suggest that the plant’s leaves also contain other essential vitamins and nutrients. These include small amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, proteins, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, the flavonoid rutin, and vitamin C among others.
The Health Benefits of Stevia
Hailed as the “Sweetener of the Future”, this natural sweetener provides a host benefits which can include the following:
- The glycosides contained in this unique sweetener cannot be metabolized by our bodies so our bodies don’t get calories from it. In its processed state, it is known to be about 70 to 300X sweeter than sugar. In its untainted pure state, it can balance and maintain normal blood sugar levels so those suffering from diabetes and hypoglycemia can tolerate it very well.
- Further, scientific studies show that a daily stevioside dosage of 1,000 mg is capable of lowering blood glucose levels after eating by as much as 18% for inviduals afflicted with type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, some studies claim that a lower, daily dosage of 250 mg in three separate doses does not impact HbA1c or glucose levels after 12 weeks of trials in individuals with type 1 diabetes.
- According to other scientific studies, consuming a daily stevioside dosage of 750 mg to 1,500 mg may lower systolic blood pressure or a blood pressure reading’s higher number by as much as 10 to 14 mmHg. It can also decrease the diastolic blood pressure or a blood pressure reading’s lower number by as much as 6 to 14 mmHg. These results were taken within a week of beginning the course of treatment.
On the other hand, based on other studies, consuming a low dosage of stevia supplements, around 15 mg for every kilogram of body weight daily won’t considerably lower blood pressure levels in individuals afflicted with mild, high blood pressure.
- Stevia is also proven to be a great aid in losing weight and managing weight since it does not have calories and can decrease your craving for fattening and sweet foods. Allegedly, hunger pangs may be reduced if you take 10 to 15 drops of Stevia extract 20 to 30 minutes prior to eating. In addition, it is capable of rebooting the hunger mechanism in individuals with obstructed pathways between the stomach and hypothalamus. In this case, this natural sweetener also aids people in feeling fuller sooner and longer which in turn greatly lessens their food intake.
- This natural sweetener is also very safe for your teeth as opposed to sugar and other types of sweeteners since it slows down the production of specific bacteria that includes those responsible for gum disorders and tooth decay. Because of this, users of products incorporated with Stevia also report reduced occurrences of the common colds and state that it helps in proper oral hygiene when utilized with toothpaste or as a mouth rinse. Some people also dilute it with plain water as a mouth wash.
- Reportedly, concentrate sourced from the Stevia plant’s whole leaf can provide a host of extraordinary benefits if utilized regularly with your skin care regimen. Some use it as a face mask for efficiently tightening and softening problem skin areas, smoothening wrinkles and superficial lines, as well as treating common blemishes such as mild acne. One drop of pure concentrate can be directly applied on acne lesions and mouth or lip sores.
Likewise, it can also be used for treating a wide array of common skin problems such as eczema, various types of dermatitis, and seborrhea to name a few. It may also be directly applied on scratches and cuts for faster recovery and minimal to no scarring. It will only sting for a few seconds and then goes on to numb the pain.
- Some users who consume Stevia everyday also claim that it greatly aids their gastrointestinal and digestive system functionalities, alleviate stomach issues, and helps in faster healing from common diseases. Additionally, some people also state that drinking teas sweetened with Stevia also aids in lowering their need for an alcohol or tobacco fix.
As with all supplements, Stevia also carries with it some common side effects like nausea, dizziness, light numbness, or bloating in some individuals. It can also adversely interact with certain medicines such lithium, and those used for treating diabetes and high blood pressure. Because of this, you should have a talk with your doctor first if you are taking the above mentioned medications. In addition, to be on the safe side, those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to conceive should consult their doctor as well before taking Stevia.