Sugar is bad for us.
But artificial sweeteners may be even worse. Except for stevia. Thisis a South American herb that’s naturally sweet.Many more times so than sugar. It also contains zero calories.
It’s become enormously popular just about everywhere. You’ll find it in health food stores. It’s also added to a lot of organic products.
Stevia is an ingredient in an organic tulsi tea I’ve purchased. It’s also added to our natural fluoride-free toothpaste.
If you can’t have sugar, stevia certain seems like a much better bet than aspartame or xylitol.
After all, stevia is an herbal remedy that’s been used in South America for centuries. But you should know that stevia exists in different forms. Some of these may not be good for you.
This has been a learning experience for me. I’ve successfully gotten my husband to give up his favorite artificial sweetener, and use stevia instead. But I want to make sure I’m buying the healthiest variety of stevia. I don’t want to trade one toxic sugar substitute for another.
Is Stevia Good or Bad?
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As it turns out, I had been buying the wrong kind of stevia. My first purchase was a white powdery substance. It looked a lot like the toxic artificial sweeteners I just threw away. It even came in the same type of little paper packets.
Now I’m wondering what that white powder was. Stevia is an herb. It has green leaves. The powder has obviously been highly processed.
This raises the question of whether the chemical composition has undergone changes that may render it toxic. Also, has anything been added to that white powder?
Remember, whole leaf stevia is green. Whole leaf stevia extract will be dark brown. I believe the liquid extract is a decent alternative to sugar, and it’s one I use myself.
White “stevia” is either bleached, or subjected to processing, to remove the natural color.) Then there are the additives.
For instance, one popular brand of powdered “stevia” lists dextrose as the first ingredient. Dextrose is typically made from corn starch. So it’s a pretty safe bet that it contains GMO’s. (Nearly all of the corn grown in the USA is genetically modified.)
Also, dextrose is a simple sugar that can cause blood sugar spikes. So this product is not a better alternative if you want to avoid sugar. The healthy looking packaging is so misleading.
Is Stevia Extract Healthy?
Next, I purchased liquid stevia extract. The particular brand is made from whole herbs. In general, I greatly prefer whole herbs to laboratory-made isolates. This is true whether it’s stevia, or an herbal remedy I take for a particular purpose.
The brand I bought is a concentrated thick, dark-colored liquid that comes in a bottle. I am very pleasantly surprised by the taste of this brand. Because another brand of liquid stevia I used previously had a bitter aftertaste.
You can see the Sweet Leaf Whole Leaf Stevia we now have in our house below.
Whole Leaf Liquid Stevia Benefits
Whole leaf liquid stevia appears to be a much better option than the white powdery stuff, which contains more dextrose than herb.
There are now many brands of liquid stevia to choose from. But I suggest you get one made from the whole herb.
Whole herbs have been safely used for ages. Single component extracts haven’t. There’s always the chance an isolate will act more like a drug. (Many pharmaceuticals are made from isolated components of plants.)
Truth About Stevia?
Whole leaf unprocessed stevia appears to be safe. It may even have health benefits.
According to online natural health expert Dr. Josh Axe, DC, stevia may even be a natural cancer fighter. In the lab, he noted, stevia led to the death of breast cancer cells.
This natural sweetener may even help reduce blood sugar levels. This is a good thing for diabetics, a group likely to use artificial sweeteners in the first place.
Stevia Sugar Side Effects
It’s important not to get taken in my stevia hype and marketing, as I did. Green whole leaf stevia has been safely used for ages. It doesn’t appear to have side effects. However, as with all herbs, it needs to be used in moderation.
There have been reports that stevia consumption may be linked to lower fertility. But these have also been disputed, according to online health expert Dr. B.J. Harwick, DC.
But remember that stevia is an herbal remedy. It’s always a good idea to take herbs in moderation.
I’ve found that I need to listen to my body. If I develop a distaste for an herb I stop taking it, until this passes.
The processed white powder that comes in paper packets doesn’t have a long track record. It may or may not be safe, depending upon how it’s processed and what is added.
Anyway, you can see the brand of liquid stevia I use below. My husband uses it in his coffee. When he’s at home. At work he needs a different option. (I’ll tell you about that in a minute.)
Where Can I Buy Stevia?
My local grocery store only sells the packets of “stevia,” which I now realize bear little resemblance to the whole herb. I’m sure my local health food store sells tinctures. But I order my liquid stevia extract online.
I may at some point order organic powdered green leaf stevia. This I can mix with arrowroot flower, so my husband has a powdery substance to put in his coffee when he’s away from home.
Whole green leaf powdered leaf stevia is still relatively difficult to find. But you can order it online.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use herbal remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.