Derived from the stevia leaf, stevia is a natural sweetener available in both liquid and powder form. With little-to-no glycaemic index (meaning it won’t affect blood sugar levels) and zero calories, it has gained recognition as an all-natural alternative sweetener for those looking to down on calories and boost their wellbeing.
As stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar itself, a little goes a long way – a teaspoon is equivalent to one cup of white sugar – so go lightly. VB’s stevia of choice is SweetLeaf Sweet Drops Liquid Stevia, which is sold widely in the US and available in the UK on the likes of Lucky Vitamin and Amazon. Other liquid stevia brands can be found in health stores such as Holland & Barrett, as well as larger supermarkets – Modern Nature’s Liquid Stevia, available on Ocado, comes SL Health & Beauty Editor-approved.
Lifestyle and weight loss guru Louise Parker is also a stevia advocate, saying it’s one of her cupboard essentials. “I’m a huge fan,” she told us. “It’s a great product to have up your sleeve to sweeten anything from creamy bowls of porridge to protein shakes, so you can ‘save’ your sugars for the weekend, when you’re craving a martini or pain au chocolate. I use it in smoothies or mix into cocoa powder to make sugar-free hot chocolate. You can even beat it into egg whites with cinnamon to create a coating on both sweet and salty protein-rich snacks. As it has zero calories and doesn’t affect blood sugar, I prefer it to the likes of agave nectar, natural syrups and dried fruits such as dates.”
But before you start stockpiling stevia, there may be a catch, As nutritionist Cassandra Barns explains, “Research shows that when we eat stevia, or foods flavoured with stevia, it has the effect of tricking our brain into thinking we’re going to get sugar. Then when no sugar arrives, this could actually increase our cravings for it. So, although stevia is considered a safer alternative than artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, and it doesn’t contain any calories, it may not be that helpful in the long term for supporting weight loss or cutting sugar cravings.”
The bottom line? Stevia can provide a sweet fix without the calories and doesn’t impact blood sugar levels in the same way as regular sugar – just be wary of how much you’re consuming, and if you’re looking to get on top of serious sugar cravings, it could be worth cutting back completely.
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