While lots of artificial sweeteners are available are they safe? Do they raise blood sugars for those concerned about insulin resistance syndrome X, weight loss etc. Since the average American now eats close to 170 lbs. of sugar/HFCS a year, it is important to get away from that devastating habit and cut back on sweets
Here then is the “skinny” on stevia.
5 Health Benefits of Stevia
Regarding the good stuff, we have found that there are several studies (477 stevia studies as of this writing to be exact, and that number is ever-increasing) evaluating stevia’s ability to be used as a natural remedy. There are medicinal properties in the plant itself that lend to its incredible healing and disease-fighting effects.
1. Anticancer Abilities
In 2012, Nutrition and Cancer highlighted a groundbreaking study that, for the first time ever, connected stevia consumption to breast cancer reduction. It was observed that stevioside enhances cancer apoptosis (cell death) and decreases certain stress pathways in the body that contribute to cancer growth. (8)
The journal Food Chemistry published a study out of Croatia showing that when stevia is added to natural colon cancer killing mixtures, such as blackberry leaf, antioxidant levels soar. (9) Together, these studies show stevia’s potential as a natural cancer treatment.
2. Sweet News for Diabetics
Using stevia instead of white sugar can be extremely helpful to diabetics who need to avoid conventional sugar as much as possible on a diabetic diet plan. But they also shouldn’t have artificial chemical sweeteners. Human and animal studies have demonstrated that artificial sweeteners can raise your blood sugar levels even more than if you consumed the real stuff (table sugar). (10) Now that should make you think twice before picking up that next diet soda.
Enter stevia. An article published in Journal of Dietary Supplements evaluated how stevia affects diabetic rats. It was discovered that rats treated with 250 and 500 milligrams every day “significantly” reduced fasting blood sugar levels and balanced insulin resistance, triglycerides and alkaline phosphatase, which is raised in cancer patients. (11)
Another study of human female and male subjects found that having stevia before a meal reduced post-meal blood glucose and insulin levels. These effects appear to be independent of reductions in caloric intake. This research demonstrates how stevia can possibly assist with glucose regulation. (12)
3. Helps Weight Loss
Consuming added sugars has been shown to contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet. (13) This high sugar intake has been linked to weight gain and adverse effects on blood sugar, two things that can have serious negative impacts on health.
Stevia is a plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener. If you choose to replace health-hazardous table sugar with a high-quality stevia extract and use it in moderation, it helps you decrease not only your overall daily sugar intake, but also your caloric intake. By keeping your sugar and calorie intake in a healthy range, you can help fend off obesity as well as many health problems linked with obesity, like diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
4. Improves Cholesterol Levels
Results of a 2009 study showed that stevia extract had “positive and encouraging effects” on overall cholesterol profiles. It’s important to note that researchers also found that there were no adverse stevia side effects on the health status of the subjects involved in this stevia study. Researchers concluded that stevia extract effectively decreases elevated serum cholesterol levels, including triglycerides and LDL (“bad cholesterol”) ,while increasing good HDL cholesterol. (14) You could say stevia results in the best of both worlds when it comes to cholesterol numbers.
5. Lowers High Blood Pressure
“Available research is promising for the use of stevia in hypertension,” says Catherine Ulbricht, senior pharmacist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and co-founder of Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which reviews scientific evidence on herbs and supplements. Ulbricht said Natural Standard gave stevia a “grade B for efficacy” in reducing blood pressure. (15)
Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels and increase sodium excretion, two things that are very helpful to keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Evaluation of two long-term studies (one and two years in length, respectively) gives hope that stevia may be effective in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients. However, data from shorter studies (one to three months) did not support these findings. (16)
So there you have it. Cut the sugar, drop all the artificial sweeteners and enjoy better health!!