Stevia is so popular now that it’s tough to separate the facts from the fiction, when it comes to its effects on health. The natural sweetener that’s available worldwide was originally grown in South America, but soon found a demand in the food manufacturing industry, especially among natural food lovers and diabetics. Here’s a look at its pros and cons:
Pros: Stevia has no calories, is non-toxic, and shows a positive influence on food intake, blood sugar and insulin. It is inexpensive compared to other non-sugar sweeteners. Thanks to being between 250-300 times sweeter than sugar, you need to use just a small amount of it to make things taste sweeter.
Cons: Chemically processed, stevia may contain glycerine, xylitol and dextrose. Even if you use stevia in its natural form, which is the dried leaves, it has a strange aftertaste (which may not appeal to every palate, nor work as the best substitute for regular sugar). It can actually cause weight gain and hypoglycemia, since experiencing a sweet taste from a food that is not going to provide glucose, confounds the body’s sugar-handling process.
Alternatives: There are several other natural sweeteners you can try, most of which work better than stevia as far as sugar substitution is concerned. Go ahead, experiment with unfiltered and raw honey, molasses, unprocessed maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, date sugar and agave syrup.