Artificial sweeteners are often used in conjunction with consistent daily exercise to allow people to lose weight more easily. It is very hard to give up the taste of sugar, especially for those who have a “sweet tooth.” Most people who are hoping to lose weight jump at the chance to use sugar substitutes so that they can still enjoy sweet snacks, but not have to worry about all of the calories that come from sugar. Some people choose artificial sweeteners because they have diabetes, or other complications that keep them from eating regular sugar. Stevia doesn’t affect blood sugar levels, like glucose does which makes it a good option for those who need to watch their blood sugar.
However, sweeteners like aspertame and sucralose don’t come without a price, as many of them are known to cause problems with your body in the long term. There are many people out there who are saying no to artificial sweeteners because of the negative results that have come from years of research on lab rats.
Perhaps the newest sweetener that has been introduced to the United States, which is becoming quite popular is Stevia. This sweetener is found in the leaf of the stevia plant, and has been used for decades in South America. It gained popularity in Japan during the 1970s, and finally has made its way to the U.S. and is becoming a favorite here. It is 300 times as strong as regular sugar after being processed, so only a small amount is needed to sweeten food or beverages. If too much stevia is added to a recipe, a bitter taste will likely result, rather than an overly sweet taste.
Stevia is now being used in many different types of food and drinks. Some soda companies have started to put it in their diet sodas, it can also be purchased in powdered form to add directly to anything that you wish to sweeten. There are also certain dieting aids available that use Stevia as a sweetener, thus keeping the calorie count to a minimum. (see www.lemonadediet.com/faq for an example of one of these dieting aids.)
As far as the research goes, pure stevia doesn’t seem to pose a health risk, and can be safely eaten in moderation. For those attempting to cut back on sugar intake, while avoiding the harmful side effects of some artificial sweeteners, stevia might be a great option! Give it a try and see how it goes for you!