When I was little girl I loved going to my beloved Nanny’s house to make and eat baked goods with her. People admired her for her kindness, for teaching home economics for over 30 years and baking the best desserts west of the Mississippi. Just ask her favorite (okay, only) granddaughter.
Baking is definitely an art and she was an artist.
She taught me how to bake cookies and cakes, pies and fudge, all so deliciously rich and delightfully sweet.
However, eating the sweet treats truly did not compare to the time we spent smiling, laughing and playing the occasional practical joke on my unsuspecting Papaw. She made me feel special and I treasured our times together.
What About Sugar?
In the 80’s people weren’t concerned with sugar.
Back then fat was (erroneously) considered the dietary evil. I’m glad the horrible myths about fat have been cleared up, because (grass-fed) butter does make everything better. 😉
Processed sugar may end up being the worst culprit to the American diet despite earlier beliefs of its innocence.
- is full of empty calories
- causes tooth decay
- is highly addictive (1)
- raises your cholesterol and risk for heart disease (2)
- causes cancer (3)
- causes insulin resistance (4)
- can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (5)
(For more about the harmful impact of sugar you may want to check out 20 Reasons Why Refined Sugar Is Bad For Your Health.)
Now that we know the dangers sugar presents to our health we can look to a healthy alternative for the sweetness we crave.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is an all-natural sugar substitute belonging to the Asteraceae family. This herb is an extract taken from a plant originally grown in South America. It is super sweet, 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. So, as you might have guessed, a little goes a long way.
Based on a 1 gram serving, it has zero calories and does not raise blood glucose levels, something that could be an issue for those with diabetes.
You can use it in baking. It is also stable in a freezer and heat. But because it is so sweet you’ll have to make some
Here are some basic conversions to help you when baking:
- 1 teaspoon sugar = 1/2 packet, or 1/8 teaspoon powdered stevia or 5 drops liquid
- one tablespoon sugar = 1 .5 packets, or 1/3 teaspoon powdered stevia or 15 drops liquid stevia
- 1 cup sugar = 24 packets, or 2 tablespoons powdered stevia or 2 teaspoons liquid stevia
Two compounds in stevia make the leaves sweet:
You may have also heard of Truvia, which is a highly processed form of stevia.
Is Stevia Safe To Use?
Generally speaking, most people do fine consuming stevia, especially in its purest form. But, it is essential to understand the different forms of stevia because some are more processed than others. Also as we know, the more processed foods are, the less healthy, and more harmful our health they are.
- The green leaf stevia is the all-natural plant form you can grow. The leaves can be dried and ground to a powder. This is the healthiest form.
- Stevia extracts
- Highly processed stevia (such as Truvia) is not recommended. It runs through 42 different processes, including the addition of harmful chemical solvents and GMO corn products. Consequently, at the end of all this processing it barely resembles natural stevia at all. (You can read more about Truvia here.)
Stevia Health Benefits
- May lower blood sugar (6)
- Reduces the growth of breast cancer cells (7)
- Lowers blood pressure (8)
- Improves overall cholesterol (9)
Please check out this video I made about natural stevia:
Stevia is an excellent all-natural alternative to sugar, as long as you use the more natural forms and avoid the highly processed ones, such as Truvia. Not only can stevia sweeten your morning coffee or tea, but it can also offer some pretty impressive health benefits.
The quality and purity levels of different stevia brands can vary drastically. It’s essential to do a little investigating before purchasing stevia to make sure you get a quality product.
Do you use stevia? What did you think?
Please share below in the comment section. I love hearing from you!
If you liked this you may want to check out:
- Health Benefits Of Diatomaceous Earth
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- 9 Surprising Benefits Of Lemon Water
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