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One of the biggest troubles that people face when changing their lifestyle is adjusting to cutting out sweets in their diets. Anyone with a sweet tooth knows how satisfying that bowl of ice cream or candy bar is. Good news is that in this modern day there are many alternative forms of sweetener so you can satisfy your cravings without having to sacrifice your progress.
Many of these artificial sweeteners like aspartame and equal seem appealing with zero calories, but can actually cause side effects like headaches to even weight gain. These sweeteners can also cause changes in your metabolism as well as add hundreds of extra calories that can be hidden in foods we eat. Not to mention that these sugars actually have addictive properties and retrain taste buds to need more and more sweetness and sweeter foods. This can lead to an even greater susceptibility to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
These dangerous non-nutritive sweeteners can hide everywhere from toothpastes and mouthwashes to alcoholic beverages to salad dressings. Make it a habit to carefully read food labels to ensure you are not exposing yourself to these dangerous sweeteners.
Try to avoid any of these artificial sweeteners:
- Acesulfame potassium
- Sweet ‘N Low
What is the best alternative?
One of the best choices of sweetener comes from the Stevia plant. The Stevia plant, which is native to some South American countries has become immensely popular in the last few years. The plant is a sweet flavored, leafy plant, that can be processed into a fine white powder for use in many kinds of products.
This powder is just the extract of the plant, not the plant itself. The extract is a refined version of the two major components, that have the sweet content of the Stevia plant. These isolated compounds are Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. Both compounds are all natural and contain a sweetener one hundred times more potent then sugar.
Even with a sweetener level one hundred times more powerful than sugar, Stevia has in comparison zero calories compared to sugar. This is what makes Stevia a special find for people that are hard core sugar users.
For many reasons there are several forms of Stevia that can be purchased. The usual white powdered form is great for beverages as well as baking. You would be able to use 1 teaspoon of Stevia extract in replacement of 1 cup of sugar. This means replacing 720 calories and 192 carbohydrates in sugar for zero carbohydrates and zero calorie with Stevia. That makes a big difference in the amount of sweetened foods you can eat within your new lifestyle.
Stevia has many other benefits that come along with zero calories and no carbohydrates. One of the first benefits of switching to Stevia is its ability to aid the body in decreasing blood pressure. Stevioside, which is one of the major sweet components of the Stevia plant, has been shown in studies to decrease blood pressure. In the study using 500mg of Stevioside 3 times a day showed between a 6 and 10-point drop in both Systolic and Diastolic blood pressure. The study also showed that the group who used the Stevioside also showed a reduced risk of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy. This is an enlarging of the heart that can often be the cause of an increase in blood pressure.
As a sweetener, Stevia is also a good option for people with diabetes. Type II diabetes is characterized with higher blood sugar, making Stevia a great choice of replacement for sugar. In Type II diabetics sugar intake effects insulin resistance and the ability to produce the proper amount of insulin needed on a daily basis. In a study on how Stevia would affect the blood sugar levels of people who have Type II diabetes, it was shown that after using Stevioside there was an actual reduction in blood sugar rather than a spike. Other health benefits of using Stevia can include a decrease in LDL cholesterol, some anti-cancer benefits, anti-inflammatory properties, and some use as a diuretic.
Since Stevia is a sweetener that is safe for consumption at any level, it makes a perfect replacement for sugar for many users. For people who are trying to cut calories and reduce their sugar carbohydrates, Stevia makes a perfect substitution, reaping the sweetness they need to deter cravings without the dangers of calorie intake.