Evolution has programmed us to be desirous of sweet flavours, however the knowledge of the host of detrimental effects of excessive sugar intake is now part of mainstream consciousness. Such increased awareness has lead to a saturated market of ‘sugar alternatives’, which unfortunately, are potentially more damaging than the real thing! Mother nature has our backs with this one though, in the form of the leaves of the Brazil/Paraguay originated ‘Stevia Rebaudiana’, or ‘Stevia’. With a history of use as a sugar alternative in Japan (where obesity levels are very low comparatively to the west) it is commonly marketed for being calorie free and around 150 times sweeter than sugar. Beyond the sweetness however, a number of studies suggest alternative health benefits of its inclusion in your diet. Read on to discover the Top 5 Health Benefits of Stevia!
1. May treat Lyme Disease
While antibiotics destroy harmful bacteria that may cause illness, they are unable to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy bacteria, so some of the good guys in our system are also wiped out as a form of collateral damage. A study from 2015 demonstrated whole leaf stevia extract as an alternative and effective agent against lyme disease, when compared with three conventionally used antibiotics, finding it to be an equally effective and more gentle alternative.
2. Can reduce risk of strokes
Stevia contains 8 different glycosides, which give it its sweet flavour. One glycoside known as stevioside was reported in research from 2003 to significantly reduce blood pressure and regulate heart beat; important in reducing the risk of strokes. Stevia also increases sodium excretion and urine output – contributing to healthy blood pressure.
3. Anti-Cancer properties
Stevia contains many flavonoid (antioxidant) compounds, which are known for protecting the body against free-radical damage. One flavonoid known as kaempferol has been suggested to reduce various forms of cancer, and is currently being researched as a mainstream treatment.
4. Can improve skin conditions
The logic in opting for stevia is to avoid sugar, and in doing so your skin will reap the benefits. Sugar leads to spiked insulin levels, which cause inflammation throughout the body. Collagen in the skin may break down as a result of inflammation, causing undesirable aesthetic consequences.
5. Helps prevent depression
Sugar has been found to increase the risks of depression and schizophrenia by increasing and decreasing blood pressure in rapid succession. Stevioside, previously noted for its potential anti-inflammatory benefits that reduce blood pressure are present in Stevia, but not sugar. Another reason to be happy about making the switch.
It appears that there may be more to replacing sugar with stevia than just reducing your waistline. With its slightly liquoricey aftertaste, stevia may not suit all palates, but with a little adjustment and culinary creativity it can soon become the norm. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, increase antioxidant intake, or regulate your mood – stevia is your sweetest option. Got something to say about it? Let us know below or @ KeepfitKingdom !