It is hard to escape sugar
Sugar used to be a condiment, but over the years, it has become a staple in our diet. It is found in most packaged foods. We bake with it, add it to our coffee etc. There is no denying that sugar is pleasing to the taste buds and mentally makes us feel good. There is also no denying that all the sugar we consume, hidden or otherwise, is not good for our health. So along came artificial sweeteners, which presented an option to sugar while still providing that sweetness we all crave. There is a slew of evidence on the harmful effects of artificial sweeteners and that they may be making us fatter than traditional sugar.
Is a Natural Alternative to Sweeteners a Better Option?
The idea that there may be a natural alternative to artificial and traditional sugars sounds appealing. So what do you need to know? Don’t confuse artificial sweeteners with alternative sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are completely artificially made, whereas alternative sweeteners are plant-based substitutes.
The most popular approved alternative sweeteners.
Sugar alcohols: Also called polyol, (Xylitol and sorbitol), are common examples and are often used in sugarless gum, toothpaste and other products.
These sweeteners are synthesized from various fruit but are or from more commonly derived birch bark for consumer consumption. They are not as sweet as white sugar and have fewer calories. Due to their poor absorption, if too many sugar alcohols are ingested, they can lead to gas or diarrhea.
Monk Fruit: Did you know that Chinese traditional medicine practitioners have historically used monk fruit as a remedy for respiratory, cardiovascular, and other conditions? Monk fruit is an extract derived from monk fruit. It is 150-250 times sweeter than sugar. Monk fruit sweeteners do not contain calories or raise blood glucose levels.
Stevia is the most popular option as an alternative sweetener. Stevia is derived from the stevia plant. It is considered to be approximately 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Everything You wanted to know about Stevia
Candy leaf, sweet leaf and sugar leaf are all names of the plant stevia rebaudiana, commonly referred to as Stevia and used since the 16th century. A native plant to Brazil and Paraguay, Stevia has gained popularity as the best natural sweetener and a superb alternative to refined sugar and synthetic sweeteners.
Stevia is derived from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana, a member of the chrysanthemum family, a subgroup of the daisy and ragweed family. Stevia is much sweeter than traditional sugar, and the intensity is determined by the plants used in production. Depending on the plant, harvesting etc., some types of Stevia may produce a slight licorice aftertaste.
- Stevia is classified as zero-calorie because the calories per serving or so low they are negligible
- The small natural sugar-like molecule in Stevia (glycosides) passes through the small intestine intact. Unlike other sugars that are broken down into glucose and fructose and are immediately absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Stevia does not break down until it reaches the large intestine, where it is eaten up by your gut bacteria
- Stevia is extracted through a process of harvesting the leaves of the Stevia plant, drying them, water extraction and purification
NOW’s Stevia is derived directly from the natural stevia plant and is organically grown and sustainably harvested and processed. NOW's stevia extract is produced utilizing a proprietary extraction process that uses only water and organic alcohol. The resulting extract is then prepared with a vegetarian-source enzyme (glucosyl transferase) to reduce the licorice-like and metallic aftertaste common in regular stevia extracts.
All varieties of NOW BetterStevia® are made with organic Stevia. BetterStevia® is available in packets, liquids, extracts, and instant tabs in USDA-certified organic and Non-GMO Project Verified varieties.
How Do You Use BetterStevia?
Tasty ways to start using Stevia include: in coffee or tea: in homemade lemonade: sprinkled on hot or cold cereal, in a smoothie or unsweetened yogurt.
The conversion from sugar to Stevia differs depending on whether you are using a packet/powder or liquid drops; 1 tsp of sugar equals one-half a stevia packet or five drops of liquid Stevia. For more significant recipes like baking, use the conversion chart to make the cooking process more straightforward.
Stevia is generally considered safe, but there have been reports of stomach upset with stevia brands that have added sugar alcohols. Although Stevia is part of the ragweed family, due to how Stevia is processed, no reactive compounds appear to be remaining. It is still important to do further research on a possible interaction with this herbal plant, as some people cannot take herbal products.