If life without the taste of sweet foods seems bleak, stevia comes to the rescue. Whether you are on a weight loss program or you want to avoid sugar as well as artificial sweeteners, this is a zero calorie solution. So what is this natural sweetener and how can it be used?
It is actually an herb, formally known as Stevia Rebaudiana. The leaves contain glycosides and from these leaves we get the stevioside extract which, in the form of liquid or power is extremely sweet. It does not not impact blood sugar levels so it is safe for diabetics (consult your health care provider, however) as well as for low carb dieters who do not want to go out of ketosis. Unlike artificial sweeteners which can have a bitter aftertaste when used in baking, stevia is heat stable up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit to (200 degrees Celsius). While it has been available for many years in health food stores, as a dietary supplement, it has recently been approved by the FDA as a sweetener, hence some brand names such as Truvia and Raw Stevia have shown up in supermarkets. In fact, you can even grow your own stevia.
You can use it to sweeten herbal teas or coffee, thus saving loads of calories. Add it to cocoa powder for a completely healthy and virtually calorie free drink (plain cocoa powder has negligible calories). It can also sweeten your morning bowl of steel cut oats or along with some cinnamon and nutmeg, it turn a baked sweet potato into a virtual pie. It’s also helpful in savory cooking, when you might have added a dash of sugar — a marinara sauce, for instance. It ranks among my favorite healthy foods to lose weight.
You can find a wealth of information at the Website Stevia.com including a sugar-to-stevia conversion chart, recipes, and articles on the scientific studies validating its safety for human consumption.
I have used stevia for many years, and it has been one the cornerstones both of my dieting as well as my maintenance dieting. It helped me to overcome my sugar addiction. While I greatly enjoy something sweetened with stevia ironically it does not make me crave real sugar or products made from them. I’m quite enthusiastic about it because I know it works!
I recommend buying stevia at health food stores or on the Internet. Several manufacturers including Now Foods and Kal sell the extract in both powder and liquid forms (some of which have been certified organic), devoid of the fillers — including dextrose, a corn sugar (also used as filler in artificial sweeteners) — found in supermarket brands such as Truvia. It’s also far more economical as you can buy an ounce of the powder or even a pound, which will last for quite a long time. Whether it’s weight loss or weight management, this is a helpful and flavorful addition to your arsenal.
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