Have you considered liquid stevia drops as a natural sweetener? Fun Fact: South Americans have been using stevia for 1500+ years and call it “sweet herb.” Stevia is a natural plant that can undergo a wide range of processing. They include products made from whole stevia leaves and ones with stevia extract that are combined with other sweeteners. In terms of nutrition facts, some stevia products have zero calories/carbs so they can be a good choice for people on low-carb diets like Keto or Atkins. Today many consumers are looking for sweeteners that will prevent health conditions of white sugar like blood sugar spikes, weight gain, and tooth decay.
The sweetener market has a global value of over $13 billion (2017). When picking one you have several options including traditional options like sugar, honey, and syrups. However, many consumers are now looking for low-carb options due to the popularity of diet programs like the ketogenic diet. That helps to explain the popularity of natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and sugar alcohols. While artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet are low-calorie/carb they’re not really “healthy” due to the high processing and human-made ingredients that are added. That’s why low-carb natural sweeteners have been trending in recent years.
What in the World Is Stevia?
Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that’s made from leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It became widely used in other world regions during the 1700s. That’s when Europeans started bringing large amounts to the continent.
The sweet plant’s popularity spiked in the early 1900s in many markets. However, over the next century, various groups around the world debated about the nutritional value of stevia. Some people argued it causes health issues, while fans argued it was a natural sugar replacement.
The stevia plant grows naturally in South America in countries like Brazil. In fact, Native Americans have been consuming the food for 1500+ years as foods like teas. The leaves are so sweet they’re often known as “sugarleaf” or a “sweetleaf.”
Then during the 1930s French chemists found the chemical compound in stevia leaves that produce their sweetness. Sometimes the plants are ground up into a powder/syrup form. Other times the sweet chemical compound is removed to make an extract.
When picking a stevia product one issue is the amount of processing that’s been done. For example, the US Food & Drug Administration only classifies highly-pure “steviol glycosides” to be safe for humans to consume.
In fact, the FDA hasn’t approved stevia leaves or extracts as a safe food additive. This helps to explain why stevia is less known than other sweeteners on the market. These forms can’t be marketed in the USA as sweeteners.
Health experts don’t consider stevia used to add flavor/sweetness to food as a possible health risk. Meanwhile, the FDA reports that only up to 4mg/kg of body weight is a safe amount of stevia glycosides to consume.
Many studies have found various possible side-effects from stevia. However, the majority were animal studies so it’s unclear if stevia products cause the same possible side-effects for humans.
Some of the possible risks/side-effects include:
- Low blood pressure
- Digestion issues (vomiting, nausea, cramping, bloating, etc.)
- Kidney damage
- Low blood sugar
What Are Liquid Stevia Drops?
This a liquid sweetener that includes ingredients like stevia leaf extract, purified water, and other ingredients. When selecting a product it’s important to pick one that contains no artificial ingredients. The reason is they can lower the nutritional value of the sweetener.
You can find liquid stevia drops products that contain no calories, carbs, and sugars. This is critical if you’re on a low-calorie or low-carb diet. Some of the main issues with white sugar are it can cause blood sugar spikes and weight gain.
All sugars are highly-processed from sugarcane juice. Fun Fact: One cup of white sugar has 200g of carbs. That’s 4x what’s allowed in one day on Keto/Atkins. A low-calorie/carb sweetener stevia is a practical alternative. Since it has no calories, it also has no carbs or sugars.
One of the main issues with sugars is they turn to fat. So besides causing blood sugar spikes, this helps to explain why a high-sugar diet can also cause weight gain and obesity. Today many people are going on low/no-sugar diets to avoid all sugars including white granules, maple sugar, and honey.
Liquid stevia drops are usually sold in small glass/plastic bottles. Besides stevia leaf extract, other common ingredients include purified water, natural flavors, and dietary fiber. These add nutritional value to the product.
It’s important to watch out for artificial additives in stevia drops. They include ones like colors, flavors, and preservatives. These ingredients can decrease the nutritional value of the stevia sweetener. That’s definitely something you’ll want to avoid.
When picking a stevia drop product it’s important to go with ones that are minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. This can help to boost the nutritional value.
It’s worth noting that stevia has been used throughout regions like South America and Asia without negative results. It’s possible any health risks found in past studies were related to highly-processed stevia instead of natural forms.
Possible Health Benefits of Stevia
High blood pressure affects about one-quarter of the entire world. Various studies show that stevia might be effective for lowering blood pressure. One study showed that taking a stevia supplement 3x daily for a year produced a big drop in blood pressure among hypertension patients.
More research is needed. However, there seems to be some solid evidence that stevia products might help to lower blood pressure. The key is to go with minimally-processed products to get the best results.
Stevia can be up to 300x sweeter versus sugar. As a result, you’ll just need a small amount like liquid stevia, which can save you big bucks when sweetening drinks, breakfast cereals, and baked goods. One of the main reasons sugar is so high-carb is that a lot is needed to sweeten foods.
The key is to go with stevia extracts that are minimally processed. This allows you to experience the benefits of the natural plant minus the health risks of artificial ingredients. Consider that stevia has been used safely for hundreds of years in the Americas.
Sugar causes tooth decay due to bacteria buildup in teeth. Stevia and other options like sugar alcohols are tooth-friendly. These options are lower-calorie and sweet yet don’t produce the same effects of cane sugar. This helps to explain why options like xylitol are used in sugar-free gum, mints, and mouthwash.
If you have insulin resistance, prediabetes, or diabetes then it’s important to keep your blood sugar levels in check. Studies show that extracts made from stevia leaves might help to control insulin and blood sugar.
Studies show that high blood sugar levels increase the risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Diabetes rates throughout the world are spiking so it’s one of the main reasons to ditch sugar and go with liquid stevia drops.