Stop Running from Your Favorite Foods
Stevia is a natural sugar substitute that is non-caloric and has zero carbohydrates. There is an increase in interest in its use to help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from a plant called the Stevia Rebaudiana, native to North and South America. The sweet part of the plant is called steviol glycosides, which can be up to 400x sweeter than sugar.
Although steviol glycosides are so sweet, they can leave a bitter aftertaste, so most manufacturer's products contain other ingredients. Here at Sweetly Stevia, we use a patented water extraction process, making our stevia product pure and free of harmful chemicals and bitter aftertaste. We mix our glycosides with organic erythritol to bring you ultimately the closest tasting stevia product to sugar. Seriously, 75% of people say Sweetly Stevia tastes just like sugar!
As a sweetener, stevia has grown especially popular among diabetics. In this post, we will dive deep into the benefits stevia has for people with diabetes, and those looking to make a healthier lifestyle choice in general.
Is Stevia good for diabetics?
The American Heart Association(AHA) and the American Diabetes Association(ADA) said in a joint statement that stevia can be beneficial for people with diabetes if they use stevia in moderation and do not compensate by eating extra calories at a later time.
In a 2018 study, researchers tested the effects of coconut jelly sweetened with stevia instead of sugar on participants 18-50 years old. Researches monitored blood glucose levels for 30-120 minutes after consumption, checking every 30 minutes. They found that blood glucose levels started to reduce 60-129 minutes after eating the jelly, before the secretion of insulin.
What are the benefits of Stevia?
Scientific studies suggest that stevia may offer the following benefits for diabetics and others:
- antioxidant properties to help fight disease
- blood sugar control, when fasting and after meals
- reduced hunger throughout the day
- protection against kidney and liver damage
- reduced risk of pancreatic cancer
- less desire to eat more near the end of the day
- reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels
Another great benefit of stevia is that it's very versatile. It can be used as a substitute for sugar in just about any recipe! From baking to cooking to beverages, stevia should be your #1 choice for a sugar substitute. It can also be used in coffee and tea, and can even be sprinkled over oatmeal or fruit.
This is why we say to NOT RUN FROM FOODS!
There are already plenty of existing recipes with stevia, plus you can experiment with your own favorite recipes. There's no reason why you can't enjoy your favorite foods after being diagnosed with diabetes.
Sweetly Stevia makes it easy to substitute stevia for sugar, with our easy-to-read conversion chart right on the package!
What does the research say about diabetes and Stevia?
There have been several studies that have researched the effects of stevia on blood sugar levels.
2010- A small-scale study where researches gave participants a snack to eat before their main meal (a dieting technique called preloading). The snack contained either stevia, aspartame, or sucrose (aka table sugar). The sucrose snack had 493 calories, and both the stevia and aspartame snacks had only 290 calories. Despite the difference in calories, all three groups of participants reported very similar hunger levels. The people who ate the stevia snack, however, had significantly lower blood glucose levels after meals when compared to the sucrose group. They also had lower insulin levels than both the aspartame and sucrose groups.
2013- A study in rats reported that whole stevia leaf powder as a dietary supplement led to lower blood sugar levels. The results also suggested that stevia may be able to help reduce liver and kidney damage in the rats.
2015- A study conducted on mice showed that nonnutritive sweeteners such as stevia had antioxidant potential and showed significantly lowered blood sugar levels in the mice.
2016- This study reported that dried stevia leaf powder significantly lowered blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, both while fasting and after eating. The participants also showed a reduction in triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Can Stevia treat or cure diabetes?
With such a high interest in stevia for people with diabetes, many wonder if stevia has treatment potential for diabetes.
While there is currently no cure for diabetes, people who have been diagnosed can take certain steps and make dietary and lifestyle changes to help manage the condition. Stevia can help support these changes and make the transition easier.
A study conducted on rats in 2018 suggested that stevia could stimulate insulin production when in large doses. The study's authors put this production to the plant compounds in stevia.
Using stevia in place of sugar in sweetened foods and drinks may help diabetics stabilize their blood glucose levels. It can also reduce the number of calories a person consumes, which can likely aid in weight loss. Excess weight is a huge risk factor for type 2 diabetes, which can also include heart and kidney problems.
Are there any risk factors of Stevia for people with diabetes?
The FDA recognizes stevia as being generally safe for most people. Studies have also confirmed that there are no reported negative side effects of stevia as long as it is consumed in moderation.
Some stevia products contain additives that may cause side effects. For example, sugar alcohols may be present in some stevia products and can cause mild symptoms such as:
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach pain and cramping
However, in most people, including those with diabetes, sugar alcohols are safe to consume. According to the ADA, sugar alcohols contain fewer calories than sugar and do not effects blood glucose levels as much as other carbs.
Examples of sugar alcohol additives some manufacturers may put in their stevia sweeteners or other artificial sweeteners include:
Sweetly Stevia is not manufactured with any artificial sugar alcohol additives. The erythritol we use in our stevia product is 100% organic and is all-natural. We obtain our erythritol through a fermentation process that makes the final crystalline product look almost exactly like sugar and is more than 99.5% pure. How's that for sweet?!