Myths to dispel: is stevia bad for you?


Myths to dispel: is stevia bad for you?

Stevia is a sweetener of natural origin, much more powerful than sugar but without calories: we explain why to use it but with caution.

Stevia  is a perennial plant native to South America, in particular from Brazil and Paraguay, reaches a maximum height of half a meter and is not a lover of cold . only one variety of this plant is a sweetenerIn reality, there are more than 150 species of this plant, but only one has the sweetening power: Stevia Rebaudiana, which inherited its name from the one who discovered its sweetening properties, Rebaud. The substances with a sweetening power are contained in greater quantities in the leaves of Stevia and are 4: stevioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside C, dulcoside A. In particular, stevioside and rebaudioside A have a very strong sweetening power: the first is between 110 at 270 times sweeter than sugar, the second between 180 and 400. It is therefore much sweeter than sucrose (the common sugar used in cooking), but with the advantage of not containing sugar or calories .

Benefits

The absence of sugars and calories makes it suitable for those who must lose weight and follow a low-calorie diet, which is why it is very useful for weight loss, but not only. stevia has many beneficial properties and does not cause tooth decayThe properties of Stevia are to be attributed to its active ingredients , in particular to  stevioside , which do not degrade with heat and in an acid environment, are not absorbed and therefore do not affect glycemic levels. It is therefore also useful in the diet of diabetic people , as the absence of sugar prevents it from having effects on blood sugar, with the advantage of being able to sweeten drinks and foods. Hypoglycemic properties have also been recognized, as stevioside and rebaudioside A support the functionality of the beta cells of the pancreas, responsible for the synthesis of insulin (the hormone that regulates blood glucose), helping to keep blood sugar levels constant. Stevia also possesseshypotensive, antibacterial and antacid properties . Contains flavonoids that counteract free radicals by delaying skin aging and is therefore also functional for skin health. Finally, among the characteristics of stevia compared to normal sugar we also find the ability to  avoid the risk of dental caries , which instead often arise due to the excessive consumption of common sugar.

How to use it

Stevia can be used as an additional sweetener or as an ingredient in sweet products and is sold in different forms and products: in dried leaves, in powder, in sachets, liquid, in tablets or in cubes. Its extracts are successfully used in the preparation of pre-cooked or baked foods, and this is because stevioside has a degree of fusion of 198 degrees. This means that in order to melt, change color and ferment it must exceed these temperatures, which is why it is increasingly used in the preparation of food products.

Side effects and doubts

There are some contraindications concerning the laxative effects of Stevia, which manifest themselves however only if large quantities are ingested .  Hypotensive effects also occur , so it is not recommended in case of low blood pressure. The almost complete absence of side effects allows its use even in children and pregnant women as long as you do not abuse it .

Yet currently the debate on this alternative sweetener is open and very hot and there are even those who claim that stevia is carcinogenic, despite the reassurances of FAO and Efsa.for a long time, stevia was not considered for food productionDoubt kept her away from European food products for a long time: it was thought that Stevia and its derivatives were genotoxic or carcinogenic, and therefore responsible for the formation of tumors. In 2007, following numerous studies on the subject, the FAO established its total safety, and in 2011, after the publication of a scientific study carried out by ANS, the use of stevia as a food additive became legal in ‘ European Union (EU Regulation No. 1131/2011 of the Commission of 11 November 2011). In short, this miraculous sweetener seems to have no contraindications, as long as its use is limited to daily doses.allowed, equal to 4 mg per body weight, to be clear: 240 mg for a 60 kg woman, up to 320 mg for a man weighing 80 kg. When calculating the daily intake, it is necessary to take into account not only the Stevia used as such, but also that which may be present in packaged products, traceable to the initials E960, which indicates the presence of steviotic glycosides.


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