Are you aware of stevia, the natural sugar substitute that’s becoming increasingly popular? It’s an excellent alternative to sugar as it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, in fact, it can even lower them. Check out more details about this below.
Stevia has amazing health benefits
It’s fascinating to learn that stevia was used to treat diabetes in ancient times. The herb is also called honey leaf or sweet leaf and belongs to the sunflower family. Southern Brazil and northern Paraguay are its native regions, where the Guaraní people have been using it to sweeten their food and drinks for generations.
A 2019 meta-analysis published in Nutrients reveals that they’ve also used it for medicinal purposes like treating diabetes. Stevia derives its sweetness from steviol glycosides, which are 200 to 300 times sweeter than sucrose.
According to a paper in Nutrition Today, high-purity stevia extracts contain 95 percent or more steviol glycosides.
A study published in Molecules in 2023 identified eight different types of naturally occurring steviol glycosides in stevia leaves, with stevioside being the most prevalent. Stevia has gained attention from the food and scientific communities due to its commercial potential and pharmacological properties, leading to the establishment of stevia plantations worldwide.
Stevia has a glycemic index (GI) and calorie content of zero, as stated in a PDF. GI measures how quickly and to what extent a food raises blood glucose levels, with glucose having a GI value of 100. Research shows that stevia has anti-diabetic properties.
Stevia increases insulin secretion and activity but also reduces insulin resistance. More than that, it is also worth noting the fact that it also inhibits or reduces the liver’s production of glucose, which helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
It’s fascinating to learn that stevia contains stevioside and steviol, which have been found to regulate enzymes that help prevent hypoglycemia and keep blood sugar levels stable. Back in the 1980s, a study was conducted on 16 healthy volunteers who consumed 5 grams of aqueous stevia leaf extract every six hours for three consecutive days.
The results showed that glucose tolerance improved and plasma glucose levels were reduced during the testing period and after overnight fasting. This is encouraging news! Bendix Jeppesen, an associate professor in the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes at Aarhus University in Denmark, believes that stevia can make a significant difference as a sugar substitute.
He is even researching stevia extract as an anti-diabetic drug and a healthy sweetener. It’s wonderful to know that there are natural options out there that can potentially help with diabetes management and overall health.
“It is a game changer,” he told The Epoch Times.