Stevia is a sugar substitute that is very low in calories. There is growing interest in the use of stevia to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that comes from a shrub native to North and South America. It is an ingredient in many brands of sweetener, including SweetLeaf, Truvia, and Pure Via.
As a sweetener, stevia has been growing in popularity in recent years, especially among people with diabetes. Some studies suggest that it does not raise blood sugar levels, making it safe for people with this condition.
Stevia contains compounds known as steviol glycosides that are about 300 times sweeter than sugar. However, stevia is so low in calories that it is technically a "zero-calorie" product.
Although they are sweet, steviol glycosides can have a bitter aftertaste. Due to this, most stevia products contain other ingredients to counteract this.
Is stevia safe for people with diabetes?
Stevia extracts are generally safe for most people in moderate amounts.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) categorize steviol glycosides as "generally recognized as safe," or GRAS. As a result, manufacturers may add certain high-purity steviol glycosides to foods and beverages.
Steviol glycosides are often present in sugar-free drinks, jams, and dairy products.
In a joint statement, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) said that stevia and similar sweeteners can be beneficial for people with diabetes if they use them appropriately and do not compensate by eating extra calories at later meals.
Research supports this statement by suggesting that stevia may assist with blood sugar control.
Can stevia treat or cure diabetes?
Due to the focus on stevia for people with diabetes, many people wonder if it can treat or cure the condition.
There is currently no cure for diabetes, but people can manage the condition by making dietary and lifestyle changes and taking medications.
Using stevia in place of sugar in sweetened foods and drinks may help people with diabetes stabilize their blood glucose levels.
This replacement may also reduce the number of calories that a person consumes, which is likely to aid weight loss. Excess weight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and for its complications, which include heart and kidney problems.
Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure. Some research suggests that stevia may lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, but not all studies support this. More research is necessary to confirm this possible effect.
Sourch: Medical News Today