The average American is eating 400 calories every day of added sugar! And that’s not even counting all of our zero-calorie sweeteners, some of which can be extremely harmful to our health. But if we told you that there was a sweetener out there that…
- Didn’t spike blood sugar
- Had zero calories
- Didn’t have any pharmaceutical side effects
- Actually had some benefits to offer
…would you believe us?
Of course, everything should be consumed in moderation, but all of those things are true about Stevia!
Let’s talk about why Stevia is the best natural sweetener out there.
First things first…what the heck is Stevia?
Besides the name of that kid lost in Whole Foods, that is.
The sweetener we know as Stevia comes from a plant that grows in Paraguay and Brazil called Stevia rebaudiana. In traditional medicine in the areas where it grows, it has been used for hundreds of years as a treatment for burns, colic, stomach problems and even as a contraceptive.
The leaves can also be chewed on their own for their sweet taste. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener extracted from these leaves that has been enjoyed in the form in which we now recognize it since 1995.
What are the uses and benefits of Stevia?
Not only is Stevia natural and safe, it also has some amazing, science-backed benefits!
Stevia may prevent or fight some types of cancer. According to a 2012 study published by the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Kalyani in India, Stevia contains a glycoside called stevioside that helps boost cancer cell death in a human breast cancer line. In addition, stevioside may decrease some mitochondrial pathways that help cancer grow—sweet!
Stevia can support healthy blood sugar levels. That same stevioside (it sounds scary, but isn’t it turning out to be awesome?) has been found to actually decrease blood sugar levels. One 2005 study found that Stevia also decreased insulin resistance in rats. Granted, we are not rats, but this could be a significant breakthrough for people with diabetes.
Stevia can be helpful in weight loss. Usually zero-calorie sweeteners are pretty sketchy, and we’ll talk more about that in a second, but Stevia is a great exception. It you’re looking for a sweetener that won’t impede your weight-loss goals, Stevia is truly a cut above the rest.
Stevia can be beneficial for those with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition present in 22%-34% of Americans and it’s Stevia to the rescue! Once again, this is due to none other than the steviosides. They do wonders when it comes to increasing glucose tolerance, reducing plasmatic and postprandial glucoses, and reducing abdominal obesity as well as body weight and serum cholesterol.
Stevia could actually cure Lyme Disease. One study found that Stevia kills Lyme Disease better than antibiotics! If you happen to be diagnosed with Lyme Disease, Stevia is a fantastic addition to your diet.
SUTRA's Personal Tie with Stevia
Nobody knows the healing effects of Stevia (and the body destroying negative health facts) better than Ashley Strommen, Co-founder of SUTRA herself. Ashley was bedridden for years with reduced brain function due to Chronic Lyme Disease and found that cutting out sugar and using health alternative sweeteners was one of the many things that assisted her in achieving remission.
Excerpt From Ashley On her Struggle and recovery
"Lyme Disease robbed me of 6+ years of my life and nearly killed me. I was truly lucky to even recover because most of the individuals that I know who have lingering symptoms of Chronic Lyme suffer the rest of their lives, they never find the groove that is being fully healed.
A few years ago I was about 70% well and was told from my doctor that it would be the best that I could do. I was still in an overwhelming amount of pain, fatigue, and brain fog. I started researching (like any good nerd) other avenues that would bring me relief). What I found is the correlation behind diet and disease and by cutting out negative crap and nourishing your body with a plant-based diet, you can reverse severe illnesses.
So I studied and received my Nutritionist certification, cut out all gluten and dairy, and began living a diet consisting of 70% or more fruits and veggies. But the biggest change in my symptoms came when I eliminated all processed sugar. Now I won't tell you it was easy. I didn't realize how addicted I had become (and how most of the world is) to sugar. I had withdrawal symptoms and tremendous cravings, not to mention it was really tough to find food I could eat as I felt everything had added sugars. But after about 2 weeks off the stuff I felt more energized and alive than ever before.
About 6 months into my recovery I saw an article showing that Stevia kills Lyme Disease. They are still in the early stages of testing, but that was the moment I switched over to use Stevia in 100% of my sweetened recipes and have never looked back. Since that moment I have been healthy as a horse."
Stevia Versus the Competition
Why not just use sugar?
Yeah, sure, that all sounds great, but why not just use plain old sugar?
Unfortunately, there are lots of reasons sugar is not our friend.
The main reason is because rapid increases in our blood sugar (which is a direct result of sugar consumption) leads to inflammation in our bodies over time. This inflammation is a contributor to all sorts of health conditions including heart disease, insulin resistance, cancer, allergies, and IBS.
Another reason we should be avoiding sugar is because of all the empty calories. Sugar can add a lot of calories to our diets with zero nutritional benefits. The foods we eat should be working for us, not against us!
What’s wrong with artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, ACE K, and saccharin are starting to come under scrutiny by the FDA because of their side-effects. These side effects include headaches and migraines, shrunken thymus glands, impaired liver and kidney function, and mood disorders.
We’re preaching to the choir here—just about everyone has heard at least rumors that artificial sweeteners aren’t healthy.
But what about natural sweeteners like agave?
The problem with agave
We can hear your gasps from here—what could possibly be wrong with agave nectar?
While agave syrup doesn’t spike your blood sugar quite as violently as plain sugar, it is far from healthy.
The reason it has a low glycemic index (aka, the reason it doesn’t spike your blood sugar) is because of its high fructose content. Fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar much because our bodies don’t metabolize it well.
All that fructose goes directly to the liver, which means suppressed liver function and a higher risk of heart disease. Different studies have linked high-fructose sweeteners to all kinds of health conditions—obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides, metabolic syndrome, and fatty liver, to name a few.
Splenda’s Not-So-Sunny Side
Splenda has been the leading zero-calorie sweetener for awhile now. Want to sweeten your coffee without all the calories? Just throw in a packet of Splenda.
But it may be time to re-think that.
The theory behind touting Sucralose (Splenda) as a healthy sweetener was that, since it passes through our GI tracts undigested, it should have little effect on our bodies.
However, new research published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews revealed that Sucralose actually does get metabolized.
As that process unfolds, Splenda wreaks all kinds of havoc, including…
- Reducing our “good” gut bacteria, which can contribute to weight gain and obesity
- Limiting the absorption of therapeutic drugs, making your meds less effective
- Releasing chloroproanols during decomposition, which could be toxic
- Contributing to inflammatory bowel disease and even gene alteration
That puts things into perspective, for sure—just because something has no calories doesn’t make it healthy!
The truth about high-fructose corn syrcup
Here’s another one that will come as a surprise to no one: high-fructose corn syrup is not a good addition to our diets. But why?
The “high-fructose” part is the biggest issue. This tends to contribute to leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone in our bodies that suppresses appetite. This means that over time, as you consume more and more high-fructose corn syrup, your body will stop recognizing its natural “I’m full” signals. This leads to exacerbated weight gain.
Is there anything wrong with Stevia?
We’ve talked about the side effects of other sweeteners, so it’s only fair to discuss Stevia’s, too.
Luckily, one long-term study published by the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at a University in Paraguay found zero significant side effects from using Stevia—and some of the participants in the study had type 1 or type 2 diabetes! There were no differences at all between the group using a placebo and the group using Stevia.
Why SUTRA Uses De-bittered Stevia
One common complaint about Stevia is its bitter taste, so if you tried it once and didn’t like it, you’re in good company!
Not to fear, though—you can now get de-bittered Stevia! Look for it in health food stores or on Amazon.
At SUTRA, we believe our healthy products should also taste good, which is why we use de-bittered Stevia and will always recommend it over every other sweetener.
How to use Stevia at home
Caution: Stevia is 200 times sweeter than table sugar! A pinch (or four drops of the liquid stuff) will be equal in taste to a tablespoon of sugar.
Enjoy, knowing that you finally have a sweetener you can really trust!