- There are quite a few sweeteners that are perfectly safe to eat.
- They are low in calories, low in fructose and taste very sweet.
- Here are 4 natural sweeteners that are actually healthy.
Stevia is a very popular low-calorie sweetener.
It is extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana.
This plant has been grown for sweetness and medicinal purposes for centuries in South America.
There are several sweet compounds found in Stevia leaves, the main ones are Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. Both are many hundred times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram.
Stevia is very sweet, but has virtually no calories.
There are some studies in humans showing Stevia to have health benefits:
- When blood pressure is high, Stevia can lower it by 6-14%. However, it has no effect on blood pressure that is normal or only mildly elevated (1, 2, 3).
- Stevia has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics (4).
There are also studies in rats showing that Stevia can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol and reduce plaque build up in the arteries (5, 6).
If you need to sweeten something, Stevia may be the healthiest choice.
However… many people really hate the taste of Stevia. It does depend on the brand though, you may need to experiment to find one that you like.
Bottom Line: Stevia is a natural, zero calorie sweetener that can lower both blood pressure and blood sugar levels.