Stevia: How healthy is this ingredient that dieticians recognize as a safer alternative to sugar?


Sugar is made up of carbon while stevia is organic in composition. | Photo credit: iStock Images

Highlights

  • Despite the lack of calories and carbohydrates, experts continue to question whether stevia is healthy or not.
  • As with any food, stevia consumed in the right amounts is absolutely safe on a daily basis and has no negative side effects on the body, unlike refined sugar.
  • The energy we get from stevia is as low as 2 kal / g.

New Delhi: We live in a world where holistic health care is gaining momentum with each passing day – following a balanced diet that includes all food groups, exercising regularly and for a limited time each day instead of eliminating certain macronutrients and spending hours in a gym. However, holistic or not, what remains constant is the sugar-free diet.

Refined sugar has never been cited as a health friend by a nutritionist or dietitian. Whether it is a patient with diabetes, heart disease, metabolic disorders, obesity or even cancer – no refined sugar is ever recommended as this ingredient contains empty calories – no nutritional value. However, experts have identified another ingredient that is a safer alternative to sugar – and that healthier cousin of the unpopular sweetener is stevia.

What is stevia?

Stevia is a popular sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant; it is 100 times sweeter than table sugar but contains no carbohydrates, artificial ingredients or calories. Often sold commercially in liquid or tablet form, stevia doesn’t really appeal to many flavor-wise, as some may find it bitter and others may cite menthol resonance. However, for consumption, this expensive ingredient can be incorporated into coffee, tea, and even cakes and cookies.

Despite the lack of calories and carbohydrates, experts continue to question whether stevia is healthy or not. To debunk popular myths and get this question answered, Times Now Digital reached out to health experts who shared their thoughts on this safer sweetener.

Renowned nutritionist Pooja Makhija explained how stevia can help fight health issues like obesity, diabetes, and even tooth decay. She, however, insisted on portion control for maximum benefits.

“Low-calorie natural plant-based sweeteners like stevia are an effective way to fight weight management, diabetes, reduce tooth decay and reduce the risks associated with obesity. As with any food, stevia consumed in the right amounts is absolutely safe for everyday use and has no negative side effects on the body, unlike refined sugar. Stevia is naturally sweeter than sugar and has been used for centuries as a supplement to enhance the taste of foods. enjoy all their favorite foods like cakes, cookies and coffees without any guilt, ”she said.

Dr Sarika Satav, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics at Noble Hospital in Pune, explained the dynamics of stevia consumption and retention in the human body.

“Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener; its leaf extracts contain 95 percent or more of steviol glycosides are approved as pure stevia extracts by the World Health Organization. Research shows it doesn’t. There is no accumulation of stevia in the body. It passes through the body during metabolism. The energy we get from stevia is as low as 2 kal / g. Therefore, it can be called a zero calorie food, this is why it is very beneficial for diabetic or obese patients. However, it should not be consumed in large amounts, about 4 mg per day is an acceptable daily intake “, explained Dr Satav.

Dr Gaurav Tripathi from Birla Ayurveda spoke about the makeup of stevia and shared the nutritional profile and health benefits of this ingredient.

“Sugar is made up of carbon while stevia is organic. It turns out to be 20 times sweeter than white sugar. It has antifungal properties which prevent all kinds of skin problems. It has antibacterial properties and also acts as an anti-oxidant. If taken as a replacement for white sugar, it would not cause any harm to the human body. It contains zinc, calcium and magnesium – some of the most important nutrients in a good diet. It helps reduce hair loss, dandruff and other scalp related issues. It is also good to consume if you have high blood pressure and is also beneficial in lowering uric acid levels. Stevia also helps reduce acne and other skin related problems. Consult your dietitian before replacing it entirely with white sugar. It is suggested to use stevia for a period of one to one and a half years for better health, ”he concluded.

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or healthcare professional if you have specific questions about a medical problem.

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