Not very sure what stevia is and why it is deemed healthy, let’s dive into stevia- its components and the purported benefits.
Stevia is a generic term referring to the different forms of the sweetener. The different forms are all polysaccharides (long-chain carbohydrate molecules) and are therefore not classified as sugar.
Vitaminfood uses stevia as its naturally sourced zero-calorie sweetener because we care about your health and the effect our complete nutrition products have on our customers. Stevia also promotes Vitaminfood’s sustainability objective.
Stevia leaf contains various elements as do all plants - oils, tannins, flavonoids and glycosides among many more. These are present in the crude extracts and result in a bitter overall taste and off-tastes you might have experienced with some forms of stevia products.
The sweet tasting components however, are the steviol glycosides. These are numerable and are as listed below alongside their sweetness power:
(Stevia component ----- Sweetness relative to sucrose)
- Rebaudioside A 200-400
- Rebaudisode B 300-350
- Rebaudisode C 50-120
- Rebaudisode D 200-300
- Rebaudisode E 250-300
- Ruboside 110
- Stevioside 150-300
- Steviolbioside 100-125
- Dulcoside A 50-120
Others include Steviolmonoside and Rebaudioside F.
Of those listed above, Stevioside and Rebaudioside A are in the highest abundance greater than 95% in purified forms. The two are chiefly responsible for the sweetening effect.
Stevia as a non-caloric sweetener.
Purified stevia is not metabolized by the body thus adding no nutritive components to the body - especially not sugar.
Steviol glycosides have glycosidic bonds that bind the different structural monosaccharides; smaller particles in the steviol molecule.
These bonds are such that they are not broken down by amylase produced in the mouth or pepsin in the stomach. This is what normally breaks down other carbohydrates. Steviol glycosides are broken down in the posterior gut organs by special microbiota in the colon.
These microbiotas are perceived to instantly use up the sugar moieties released when they breakdown stevia for their metabolism.
This complex breakdown system makes stevia a zero-calorie food sweetener.
Any steviol compounds left are either absorbed in the intestines or bound to other compounds in the colon and excreted.
That is how stevia achieves its amazing non-caloric sweetener state.
Stevia can be used as a sweetener in foods and drinks as we do for Vitaminfood complete nutrition shakes. You can also add it to your cakes, shakes, desserts and beverages.
Vitaminfood is known as a sugar-free meal with no hidden sugar or artificial sugar. Stevia enables us to accomplish that as well as deliver more benefits.
The health benefits and mode of action of stevia.
- Anti-hyperglycemic effect
Sounds outrightly unbelievable…a sweetener that lowers blood glucose? Don’t the sweet additives raise the blood glucose levels?
Stevia is a sweetener of its own kind. The kind that reduces blood glucose levels and leaves everyone in awe.
Aglycon steviol, another component of stevia, enhances insulin production. It has a direct effect on the beta cells in the pancreas. The effect is a long-lasting anti-hyperglycemic effect. That means that after taking stevia, your blood sugar levels will be regulated for a longer while than the normal short period as with other plants that reduce blood glucose levels.
Stevia also increases the sensitivity of cells to insulin. The effectiveness of insulin in lowering blood glucose will be much higher as more cells react appropriately.
This gives it the potential to be an anti-diabetic drug.
- Weight loss and control
In addition to its blood sugar control capability, stevia replaces other sweeteners and sugar. These would have added calories and carbs to your diet.
Using stevia, however, eliminates these extra calories as it is a zero-calorie sweetener. Reduced calories = effective weight control and probably even weight loss, provided that you do not substitute with more fats.
Stevia controls weight first by regulating the intake of sugar.
- Antioxidant potential
Stevioside, steviolbioside, steviol and isosteviol are all antioxidants components found in stevia extract. The crude and less refined forms contain flavonoids too.
All these have antioxidant properties. They inhibit a process called oxidative phosphorylation. This is an essential process in energy release which at times results in reactive oxygen species(ROS) which are harmful to the body.
Oxidative stress is not a condition you want to have; it is linked to several chronic illnesses. All the upheaval about antioxidants is all because of this and stevia helps deal with the excess unstable oxygen molecules.
- Boosts immune system
Stevioside boosts immunity by being anti-inflammatory and modulating the immune system for optimum function.
This holds true for cellular immunity(fighting pathogens within a cell), humoral immunity(fighting pathogens outside the cells and in general circulation e.g in plasma) and phagocytic function(phagocytes fight pathogens by ingesting and digesting them as a way of killing the harmful organisms).
Still on immunity, Reubadina is an antiviral substance. It is anti-rotavirus and prevents the virus from attaching to cells for nourishment. This blockage leaves the virus without nutrition which it would have obtained from cells.
Ultimately the virus dies.
- Vasodilatory effect
A recent study on the effect of isosteviol on cardiovascular health reveals that isosteviol lowers the blood pressure, both for normal people and those with hypertension. This also improves nutrient supply to deprived parts of the body.
An increase in blood pressure may be caused by a hormone called angiotensin. This causes blood vessels to be narrower. Isosteviol inhibits the effectiveness of this hormone and may be beneficial in regulating blood pressure by promoting vasodilation.
Vasodilation of blood vessels has added advantages for certain groups for example the athletes. It usually occurs in response to low oxygen levels and increased body temperatures.
- Renal modulation
The angiotensin discussed above has several ways in which it increases the blood pressure, usually for fluid balance in healthy persons.
Among them is by increasing synthesis of aldosterone - a hormone that promotes water retention in the kidneys by sodium retention. Isosteviol can be administered as a vasodilator to help with certain kidney treatments that require counteracting the effect of aldosterone.
- Stevia is an anti-cancer product
Isosteviol prevents the growth and inflammation of cancer cells.
Genetic testing on stevia components has proven that isosteviol inhibits mammalian DNA polymerases and human topoisomerase II.
The polymerases and topoisomerase II help cancer cells tolerate DNA damage; the cells don’t die when DNA is affected. This lowers the efficiency of treatments as this damage might have been medically induced by specific targeting during radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
*Stevia has also been linked to better oral health and dental caries prevention. Although substantial research Is yet to be conducted regarding the issue, stevia the plaque pH of sucrose leading to healthy oral status.
SAFETY OF STEVIA PRODUCTS
At vitaminfood, we take precautions to ensure we provide safe and allergen-free meals.
According to industry standards and industry-regulators, stevia is considered safe for consumption. Even its raw forms and leaves are safe although refined forms are preferred. This is backed by more than 200 different independent studies and more is yet to be studied in detail.
In addition to this, most potential side effects from earlier studies have since been debunked in consequent research. Some have even been turned into potential benefits.
Its toxicity is very low, up to 100x below the accepted daily intakes and thus poses no extra danger.
Stevia is safe for use by pregnant women and children too.
A sustainable sugar-alternative.
Stevia, being significantly sweeter than other common sweeteners like beet sugar and cane sugar, is more sustainable.
The results compare the metrics for the same level of sweetness as with beet sugar and cane sugar:
- *Carbon footprint- stevia has a smaller carbon footprint by up to 80% than beet sugar and 64% less than cane sugar.
- * Water footprint – it requires 92% less water than beet sugar and 95% less water than cane.
All these are primarily owed to its sweetness.
So yes…stevia is an ingredient with benefits rather than side-effects. Stevia is the good fuel that brings a good feeling.
Vitaminfood brings you the joy of enjoying the benefits of stevia wrapped around those of other ingredients like the maca. Set up your delivery schedule and be a part of the transformation to a healthier life and a better world.
Vitaminfood offers you the sweetness alongside the benefits.
- Antioxidant potential - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jfca.2006.08.004
- Phytochemistry - https://doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9422(00)84384-8
- Safety review - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1572599502800394
- Review - http://nopr.niscair.res.in/bitstream/123456789/10287/1/IJNPR%201%283%29%20267-286.pdf
- Benefits and processing of stevia- https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/148/7/1186S/5049670
- Myths debunked - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319837
- Sustainability report - http://www.purecircle.com