What is Stevia?
No, Stevia is not a Steve Jobs invention. It’s an all-natural, alternative sweetener that comes from the Stevia plant. Stevia, officially Stevia rebaudiana, is sometimes called “Candyleaf” or “Sweetleaf”, due to the fact of its… very sweet leaves. The plant is native to Brazil and Paraguay, and has been cultivated since the 1960s for its leaves.
You can eat raw Stevia leaves. Some people put the leaves in their tea and let it steep. But more often, people use Stevia extract, which typically comes in a little squeeze bottle.
Stevia extracts, like Truvia or Stevia in the Raw, are very powerful. They are about 200 times sweeter than table sugar, which means you often just need to use a drop or two.
You can usually use Stevia in place of sugar in most recipes, so long as you get the proportions right. One difference, however, is that Stevia has a mild licorice-like flavor. Some people love it, some people hate it.
Nutrition at a Glance
The good thing about Stevia is that it is not sugar. Its nutritional profile is much different. 100g of liquid Stevia includes:
- 51 calories
- 0.8g protein
- 0g fat
- 12g carbs
- 0.7g fiber
- 210 mg sodium
- trace amounts of selenium
As you can see, there’s not that much in Stevia. Furthermore, since you will usually use just a drop or two at a time, you will probably never consume anywhere near 100g of the stuff at once. So those 12g of carbs are really not a problem when it comes to keto.
Although not a whole lot of medical research has been done on Stevia, many studies suggest it provides many health benefits. These include:
- Managing blood sugar
- Lowering cholesterol
- Helping avoid cancer
Managing blood sugar
Stevia is sweet, but it’s not sugar. Diabetics can usually tolerate it much better than ordinary cane sugar. A study conducted in 2010 found that stevia significantly lowered glucose and insulin levels in 12 obese patients.
Another 2009 study found that regular consumption of stevia supplements lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and raised levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Helping avoid cancer
Early research suggests that some compounds in stevia may be toxic to cancer cells. Research conducted on breast cancer and leukemia cells found that stevia did inhibit their growth.
Improving dental health
Everyone knows that sugar is bad for your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth love it, and it helps them grow and nibble holes in your teeth.
Bacteria do not love stevia nearly as much. Stevia does not encourage plaque buildup, and switching to it from sugar will prevent cavities and other dental catastrophes.
The FDA says that stevia is “generally recognized as safe”. That is their classification for products that have a history of safe use, but don’t have huge amounts of research behind them.
The main health risk associated with stevia is digestive. Some people do have digestive issues when consuming stevia. These include symptoms like gas, nausea, bloating, and diarrhea.
Not everyone experiences digestive issues with stevia. Stevia mostly causes problems when people take very high doses of it. But stevia can upset your gut flora.
More importantly, stevia has been shown to cause complications for people who are pregnant. But this only applies to whole leaf stevia. Refined stevia, in liquid or powder form, is safe for pregnant people.
Compared to other sweeteners
There are several alternative sweeteners on the market. These include:
In most cases, these are all much healthier than traditional cane sugar. The exceptions are individual reactions or allergies that do not apply to all people.
Stevia has a noted “licorice-like” flavor, which may be an issue if you are averse to that. But overall, stevia is a healthy alternative to teeth-wrecking, blood sugar raising, sugar.
How we use stevia
We use stevia in all of our products as an added sweetener. Since sugar is off the table for keto products, we use a drop or two of stevia to make up the difference. In fact, if you look at the nutrition profile on our products, you will see that stevia is always listed dead last. This is because it is the smallest ingredient by weight, with only a few drops added.
Take a look at our products for more information. You can see the nutrition facts for each product by clicking “View Nutrition Facts”.