New Delhi: With the festivities kicking in and Diwali round the corner, it is only a matter of time before Christmas and the calories will keep mounting!
All the sugar you consume in the form of ladoos and jalebi's can be substituted by a shrub. Ever heard of a plant called Stevia? It is a bushy shrub that is part of the sunflower family. It is a natural, non-nutritive sweetener that contains little to no calories. Stevia leaf extract is a high-intensity sweetener that can be 200-350 times the sweetness of sugar. The intensity is one of the reasons it has zero calories-it takes very little stevia leaf extract to sweeten to the equivalent of sugar.
Its safety has been verified by the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and it falls under the GRAS category (Generally Recognised As Safe). Additionally, the availability of stevia in different products and foods allows children to consume sweet food and drinks without the added calories. This also helps maintain their metabolism and reduces obesity tendencies.
The EFSA (European Food Safety Committee) brushed off concerns related to the leaf extract and potential allergic reactions. The committee concluded that it is unlikely for stevia to cause an allergic reaction when consumed in foods.
Stevia and its benefits
Weight management - For those looking to manage a healthy and balanced lifestyle, stevia is the perfect option because it has zero calories. One of the reasons why stevia leaf extract has zero calories is because of the way our body digests it because it is completely natural.
Blood insulin levels - As our body processes Stevia, the extract passes through our digestive tract without being broken down for calories unlike sugar, which during digestion is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. Because of this, it has negligible effects on blood sugar and insulin secretion.
Blood pressure - Studies suggest that stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure. The study states that the stevia plant may have cardiotonic actions that normalise blood pressure and regulate heartbeat.
Oral Health - Studies suggest that the extract in Stevia leads to a reduction in tooth decay, plaque and cavities and enhances tooth mineralization. It also helps reduce the formation of cavities that are usually formed by sugar.
Celebrity nutritionist Pooja Makhija adds, "It is extremely important to watch your sugar intake, especially during times like these. Taking a conscious effort in cutting down calories is crucial for your well-being in the long run. However, with the festival period approaching, I love to enjoy my mithai's and sweets. I can do so guilt-free by substituting my regular table sugar for Sugar-free Green, a natural sweetener made up of Stevia (meethi tulsi leaves). As it is a natural sweetener, I highly encourage all you sweet-tooth lovers to make the switch and enjoy, calorie-free!"
With the continuity of festivities this year, continue enjoying your favourite sweets as well. As long as Stevia, like any other element is used in moderation - it is safe, allergy and side-effects free! So do not fret and celebrate with your loved ones with Stevia, without having to worry about calories!