STEVIA as alternative sweetener - EXTRA BENEFITS

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by victoria, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. victoria

    victoria New Member

    Thought this was interesting about stevia, since some of us use it as a sweetener - don't worry, it's all GOOD! I know the taste can take some getting used to, but have also found that different brands DO taste differently, and to me isn't really noticeable if you combine some regular sugar with it... so it would decrease calories and sugars at the very least if you had to do it that way.

    (I was ecstatic on my first grocery shopping trip here in Mexico to find sugar & stevia combined as a product in a regular supermarket, but haven't seen it since in ANY of them, anywhere!)

    all the best,
    Also known as sweet leaf, Stevia rebaudiana is a perennial shrub... native to Paraguay. The leaves are so intensely flavored that Paraguayans have been using the herb as a sweetening agent for centuries.1,2 But regardless of this lengthy history in South America, stevia has met with intense resistance in the United States. The FDA banned the herb in 1991, citing what it called a lack of demonstrated safety. After years of public outcry, the FDA allowed stevia to be used as a dietary supplement but not as a food additive.

    (My note: due to rising corn costs etc, Coke and others are looking into using stevia as something to sweeten their drinks with, instead of high-fructose corn syrup.)

    Stevia has been shown to have benefits beyond sweet flavor, particularly for people who have diabetes or hypertension. Some data suggest that the glycosides stevioside and rebaudioside A may increase insulin production.2 Stevia delays glucose absorption from the intestine and possibly improves cellular-level insulin sensitivity. There is also evidence that the herb actually lowers blood-sugar levels in diabetics by improving carbohydrate metabolism and increasing insulin production.3

    Stevia seems to have a mild vasodilatory effect, probably by altering calcium and/or potassium in the arteries.3 This is usually considered beneficial because it can increase renal flow.1

    The herb can also help with hypertension. For example, in a two-year placebo-controlled trial involving 106 participants, those who used stevia three times a day saw an average BP reduction from 166/102 mm Hg to 153/90, while no significant change was observed among those on placebo.5

    The FDA's concerns include reproductive toxicity and carcinogenic potential.6 However, numerous studies in both animals and humans have failed to substantiate these fears, and there are no known harmful effects on people.2 In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) evaluated all recent experimental data on stevia. It concluded that "stevioside and rebaudioside A are not genotoxic in vitro or in vivo" and that "stevioside has shown some evidence of pharmacologic effects in patients with hypertension or with type 2 diabetes."1

    Study summaries published in the journal Phytochemistry confirmed that there were absolutely no indications of fertility impairment or teratogenicity from stevia. Metabolic effects were, if anything, positive, and people with such dietary impairments as phenylketonuria were able to use the herb.3

    The best carcinogenic studies are longitudinal and take years, but early data do not indicate a problem. In fact, the opposite is true. A study by Japanese researchers actually showed a tumor inhibitory effect on cancers in mice.7

    Stevia is also the object of scrutiny among dentists. Early studies indicate that because it is a non-glucose-based sweetener, tooth decay and dental caries formation may be reduced with the continued use of stevia products.2 Since tooth decay and gum disease have been strongly linked to such conditions as heart disease, this finding could have major implications for general wellness and health promotion across the population. Another safety concern seems to stem from the fact that stevia is a glycoside, a family of chemicals that can have direct effects on the heart. However, tests to date have not shown any cardiac impact.3

    All current data indicate that stevia is safe as an alternative sweetener, but people on medication regimens, particularly diabetics and hypertensives, should consult their health-care providers about possible changes to their prescriptions.

    entire article at:
  2. pearls

    pearls New Member

    I rarely use any kind of sugar, and certainly never use artificial sugar substitutes. However, Stevia is a natural plant. I've actually grown it in my garden for several years. The leaves are incredibly sweet. I buy the extract at a health food store. It comes with an eye dropper. Here's my recipe for the cereal I eat every single morning (serves two):

    -1 cup water
    -10 shakes salt (small table shaker)
    -10 drops Stevia extract
    -1 tbsp. cinnamon (cheap at Costco)
    -1 tbsp. real vanilla (also cheap at Costco)
    -1 handful raisins

    Bring the water to a boil. Add:

    -1 scant cup oatmeal (I use five minute rolled oats, though it takes less time than that to cook)

    Continuing to cook, stir occasionally. When the mixture thickens and starts to stick to the pot, take it off the heat. What is stuck on the bottom will soften and become part of the cereal. While you are waiting:

    Chop two handfuls of walnuts. Put the cereal in bowls when it is at the consistency you prefer. I like mine somewhat flaky. If you like yours more mushy, add more water, either at the beginning or now. Cook until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.

    Sprinkle over the top:

    -1 scoop (about 1/4 cup each bowl) ground flaxseed (start with less and work up to this amount)

    Sprinkle over that:

    -the chopped walnuts

    Slice over that:

    -1/2 banana for each bowl

    This is yummy and sweet enough with the raisins and banana. You can add more Stevia, but the liquid kind must be added at the beginning. I cannot tell the difference between this oatmeal and cereal sweetened with table sugar. It is a satisfying breakfast, and even though the recipe is a bit complicated, since I do it daily, I have it down pat, so it is easy to do. The glycemic levels of rolled oats are such that it is much easier to resist any goodies that may present themselves to you until at least mid-afternoon.

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