As natural sweetener that is produced from the leaves of an herb from the sunflower family, stevia has been used in various cultures for many years. However, it is just recent that it has been used by people in different countries in both powder and liquid forms, popularly in baking cakes to add sweetness.
Similar to other alternative form of sugar, stevia is sweeter than our table sugar, where even a very small amount can go a long way. In fact, it is actually hundreds of times sweeter than sucrose. As per health and food gurus, it is one of the best things on the market today, but other people warn that it should be tested further to identify its side effects. To better understand this sugar alternative, let us take a look at its pros and cons.
List of Pros of Stevia
1. It is widely accessible and cost-effective.
Now that stevia has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), anyone can obtain this natural sweetener cheaply. It is widely available to almost all local groceries across the country, unlike before where you can only order it from a health food store or through an herbal supplement catalogue. It has become one of the most reliable and affordable alternatives to sugar.
2. It provides sweetness without the side effects of traditional sugar.
Stevia is proven not to contribute calories and not to increase the sugar levels of a person. It has become a perfect substitute to sugar that does not aid in developing cavities and tooth decay, unlike traditional sugar.
3. It can lower blood pressure.
This attribute makes stevia a perfect alternative for people who want to lose weight and those with essential blood pressure problems. In fact, study shows that this sugar alternative can help lower blood sugar levels, but diabetics are still advised to monitor their sugar levels after they eat anything containing stevia.
List of Cons of Stevia
1. It is not recommended to be used by pregnant or nursing women.
Similar to other artificial sweeteners, stevia is yet to be recommended for use by pregnant and nursing women. Until further research would reveal any negative side effects, this should be avoided by new mothers who are finding ways satisfy their cravings for sweets.
2. It might cause undesirable drug interactions.
Especially for people who are on medications for diabetes or for controlling blood pressures, stevia should be avoided. The main reason for this is that using stevia with these drugs could potentially cause them to develop hypoglycemia or hypotension. In fact, there are reports of common side effects of nausea and bloating after the ingestion of such alternative sweetener.
3. It has become a carcinogen.
Study revealed that this sugar alternative could actually be transformed into a mutagenic compound, which can cause cancer. However, there are still a lot of issues being clarified with regards to this matter.
So, is stevia advisable to be used as an alternative to table sugar? Or, will it be beneficial for us? Debates regarding this subject are still ongoing, but we can already come up with an initial informed decision basing on the pros and cons listed above.