Stevia is the name given to a green leafy herbal plant, which is native to South America and has been used for hundreds of years because of its extremely sweet leaves. Stevia glycosides, mainly stevioside and rebaudioside are the active compounds responsible for its sweetness. Stevia has received its recent fame as being a sweetener that is more than 40x sweeter than sugar but does not affect blood sugar levels.
Health Benefits of Stevia
The health benefits of stevia include diabetes management, weight loss, skin care, and much more. Let us explore some of its health benefits in detail.
The most widely praised aspect of stevia for human health concerns is its ability to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. This is an ideal replacement for normal sugar for diabetics or people on carbohydrate-controlled diets because they can eat sweet foods without having to worry about diabetic complications.
Opposed to sucrose, which is what normal table sugar consists of, stevia sweetens food in a similar way as sugar, but it contains stevioside, which is a non-carbohydrate glycoside compound. As explained above, when stevioside breaks down, the glucose-containing particles are absorbed by the bacteria in the colon, rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream and affecting glucose levels in the body.
Stevia is very low in calories and is anywhere from 40-300x sweeter than sugar, depending on the prevalence of certain extracts in the species variety. This means that people can eat foods like cakes, cookies, and candies made with stevia without worrying about gaining plenty of calories from sugars, so they wont hurt their chances of successfully losing weight. This can also help in controlling excess sugar content in childrens diet.
Regulates Blood Pressure
As mentioned, stevioside is a type of glycoside, but there are other glycosides in stevia that can actually relax the blood vessels, increase urination, and facilitate the elimination of sodium from the body. This means that less stress is put on the cardiovascular system and there can be a drop in blood pressure, which protects heart health and prevents certain conditions such as atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.