Stevia • How healthy is the sugar substitute?

The sweetener stevia is considered a natural and healthier alternative to sugar and other synthetic sweeteners. The steviol glycosides were approved as food additive E 960 – what is stevia all about?

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Sugar alternatives: varied - but healthier?

Steviolglycoside: Was ist Stevia?

From the perennial plant native to South America Stevia rebaudiana The herbal sweetener steviol glycosides is obtained from (honey herb, sweet leaf). Approved as sweetener E960, stevia has 200 to 400 times the sweetness of sugar and contains almost no calories. Since stevia has a slightly bitter aftertaste that is reminiscent of liquorice, sugar cannot be easily replaced by the sweetener. Usually only parts of the sugar in products are replaced by stevia.

Is Stevia Healthy?

So far, stevia has been allowed to be used in the preparation of ice cream, jams and jellies, confectionery or snacks based on potatoes, cereals, flour or starch, as well as in preparations made from fruit and vegetables and soft drinks. It is also available commercially in liquid form, as a powder or tablet for use in the home kitchen.

When the sweetener was approved in 2011, the European Commission set an acceptable daily intake (ADI value) of four milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

Stevia has been used as a medicinal herb in its native South America for a long time: it is said to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure, expand blood vessels, have an antimicrobial effect and prevent plaque formation. So far, however, there are no studies that confirm these health effects of stevia.

Stevia foods often contain sugar anyway

If you swap sugar for other sweeteners in foods such as baked goods, you have to compensate for the missing volume. Manufacturers often use maltodextrin for this or replace only part of the sugar – so the food continues to provide many calories. Alternatively, erythritol is used as a sugar substitute – consumers should therefore take a look at the list of ingredients.

In addition, products sweetened with stevia are still foods with a rather unfavorable nutritional profile. Because it is often cakes, chocolate, pralines or soft drinks to which stevia has been added. Even if some calories are eliminated from sugar, these foods are often high in fat or white flour and do not contribute to healthy eating habits.

Just like table sugar or other sweeteners, stevia increases the taste threshold for “sweet” and makes reaching for the box of chocolates more irresistible and increases the overall desire for sweets. Especially since you can’t fool the brain.

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Stevia is no longer a natural product

The stevia plant itself is a natural product, but this does not apply to steviol glycosides: Stevia is extracted from the plant using a multi-stage, chemical process and must meet legal purity criteria. The sweetener no longer has much in common with its natural raw material.

From a nutritional point of view, it is more advisable to generally wean the body of the desire for sweet and sugary foods. In addition, cravings for sweet things are better satisfied with natural sweet foods such as fruit. This prevents obesity and diabetes.

Stevia for weight loss

There are 371 calories per 100 grams in stevia powder. At first glance, that seems like a lot. However, due to the sweetness, only small amounts are required. To lose weight, a certain proportion of the daily consumption can be exchanged for stevia. For example, the cake can be made with stevia instead of sugar. Otherwise, a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and daily exercise are advisable in order to lose weight.

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Source: Lifeline | Das Gesundheitsportal by www.lifeline.de.

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