Alternative natural sugar

Stevia: Everything you need to know about it

17 Sep 2018, 10:56

NTV Online

Excluding sugar, yet longing for it deep inside, from one’s everyday diet being worried about gaining weight is quite a regular scenario. And, being unsatisfied and tired of searching for an alternative sugar is also quite common nowadays.

Let’s help those exhausted souls who are in desperate search for a non-nutritive natural sweetener that contains little to no calories!

Yes, you have read it right. Have you heard of plant called Stevia? A member of the chrysanthemum family — a subgroup of the Asteraceae family — Stevia originally native to Paraguay and Brazil but is now also grown in Japan and China. Stevia is a very much sweet-tasting plant. Since the 16th century, it has been used to sweeten beverages and make tea.

Stevia is two hundred to three hundred times sweeter than table sugar. It is used in many countries including the US as a healthful alternative to added sugar in many meals and beverages.   

You might be delighted to know that Stevia plants can be grown at home and you can use the leaves to sweeten foods and beverages. However, in many countries Stevia products, made from a highly refined Stevia leaf extract called Rebaudioside A (Reb-A) are an available sight on grocery store shelves. The Reb-A sweeteners are available in many countries in liquid, powder, and granulated forms. And, here comes the prospect of Stevia products from the perspective of Bangladesh. Stevia has a bright potential to become an alternative sugar for Bangladeshis.


Health benefits

You might want to know about the health benefits of Stevia. Let us discuss about it.

Stevia has shown potential health benefits as a healthful sugar alternative for people with diabetes and has been approved for use by the US United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it does not appear to pose any health risks when used in moderation.  

According to a study — [] — Stevia leaf powder may help manage cholesterol.

As the sweet-tasting components in Stevia sweeteners occur naturally, this may benefit people who prefer naturally-sourced foods and beverages.

As Stevia sweeteners contribute almost no calories or carbohydrates to the diet, this permits people with diabetes to eat a plethora of foods and comply with a nutritious meal plan.

As Stevia contains no sugar and very low calories, it can be part of a well-balanced diet to help control overweight and obesity.

Study [] shows kaempferol can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by 23 per cent and Stevia contains many sterols and antioxidant compounds including kaempferol.

We all know that excessive sugars and calories are linked to obesity not only in adults, but also in children. Foods and beverages containing Stevia can play a significant role in lessening calories from unnecessary sweeteners in the diets.

‘Steviol glycosides have been found to have beneficial effects on blood glucose and insulin levels in human studies, suggesting that they may serve a potential role in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Gregersen et al. (2004) reported that there was a significant reduction (an average of 18%) in postprandial glucose levels in Type II diabetic patients given test meals supplemented with stevioside. Anton et al. (2010) found that stevia reduced postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels in humans and, more recently, Ritu & Nandini (2016) found that subjects suffering from type 2 diabetes mellitus who were given stevia leaf powder had significantly lowered fasting and post-prandial blood glucose levels on completion of 60 days’, reported.

Stevia has 150 species and all are native to North and South America. However, Stevia is now produced in many countries including China, which is the leading exporter of Stevia products.