The Western diet is packed with fat and sugar, exposing the population to a wide variety of ailments and diseases. Diabetes and heart disease are on the rise, so it’s important to watch your diet. More and more people are moving away from high-sugar diets. They’re turning to synthetic sweeteners that are processed in a lab.
However, over the past few years, a natural option has surfaced and became increasingly popular. It is known as stevia and has yielded multiple benefits. Before you purchase stevia, there are some areas that you should be aware of.
What is Stevia?
As mentioned, stevia is a natural, no-calorie sweetener. This shrub is found in South America, where it’s been used for centuries. The sweeteners in this plant are said to be approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar. The most popular sweet compound for commercial use is Rebaudioside A, as it produces the least bitter taste.
Yes, there are more natural forms of sugar, such as maple syrup, agave, and coconut sugar. However, all of these options raise one’s glycemic index number. Since stevia has a glycemic index of zero, it’s been helpful for those that have issues with their blood sugar.
Although stevia has been shown to yield various benefits, there are still a few concerns. When you’re purchasing this product, you should be aware of what you’re buying. Many companies use marketing gimmicks, making it difficult to know which is the best option.
What to Look Out For When Buying Stevia
Since stevia has become so popular, there is a large selection to choose from. If you step into a natural health food store, you may become overwhelmed by your choices. Although selection can be great, it can also lead you in the wrong direction.
Sure, it’s a natural sweetener, but what else has been added to it? You need to be most conscious of additives and fillers, especially if you’re looking at inexpensive brands. The majority of stevia products will contain at least one additive. So, what do you look for? Which options do you avoid? The following additives are commonly found in stevia products:
This is a filler that is closer to sugar than any other option on the market. It is made from corn sugar, honey, or fruits. If you are trying to follow a low sugar diet, avoid this additive. If you do opt for this choice, look for a non-GMO product (as corn is typically genetically modified).
This additive is made from potatoes, rice, or corn. Once again, look for non-GMO. If possible avoid this additive all together, as it’s an artificial sweetener.
This is most certainly one of the safest options to consume, as it is a vegetable-based, prebiotic fiber. Although it is safe, it does not yield benefits as fresh, whole vegetables do. It has also been linked to bloating, digestive issues, and gas. If you have a gastrointestinal disorder, you should ask your doctor before consuming inulin.
This is said to be the safest additive, which is generally found in liquid stevia products (in comparison to powdered form). It will not raise one’s glycemic index, which pairs well with stevia. There are no serious issues caused by glycerin, however, it is still a filler.
Although it’s beneficial to understand additives and fillers, the best possible option is a product that is pure. Look for a product that is pure, 100% stevia extract. This will mean avoiding the powder all together (as the powder is a blend).
A pure extract can be challenging to find. It is also fairly expensive. However, if you do find it, it is the best tasting, and most pure option. If this is not an option for you, then look for a pure liquid that is alcohol-free.
Basically, just be conscious of the ingredients you’re consuming. You can find a cheap stevia product, but what exactly is in it? Make sure you’re not purchasing a product that is low in stevia and high in fillers. This is not beneficial. Be conscious of what you’re buying stevia, understanding the ingredients.
Also Read: 8 Foods that Help Manage Diabetes