Sweetener your life seems more complicated than ever with all the artificial and processed sweeteners available. Is stevia really the better choice?rn
Sugar and artificial sweetener consumption has been on the rise for quite some time. While nobody can deny the pleasure factor of sweetness, with the growth of its availability, increased sugar consumption comes with many health imbalances. For a while, people thought that sugar alternatives were the solution; however, this just created a new problem.
While most sugar alternatives are chemically made, there is one smart alternative, as it is nearly calorie free, prevents cavities, and does not raise your blood sugar levels! Best of all, it’s made purely from plants; in fact, it’s a popular herb. What is it? It’s called stevia.
Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth Safely
With sugar and chemical filled food everywhere in sight, is there a way to satisfy our sweet cravings without paying the price?
According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine, the sweet taste is completely natural to the human palate. It is considered one of six tastes; salty, bitter, sweet, pungent, sour and astringent.
The way to satisfy the sweet taste in a healthy manner can be achieved in a single word: balance. We need to have a balance in all things; this includes how we balance our plates. Using the six tastes, we can create meals that are completely satisfying on every level of our taste buds while still nourishing our bodies.
The way to do this, according to Ayurveda, is to simply account for of each the six tastes in every meal you consume. This creates the ultimate balance. Do a bit of research if you are not sure what foods fall into what category. You should be able to easily find a list of these foods to make things easier for you. In no time, it should become second nature to balance your meals this way.
Once you've started adding a variety of flavors to your meals, including spices, fermented foods, and herbs, you will soon watch your cravings for excessive sweets vanish. In fact, you will likely find yourself enjoying the natural sweetness in real food such as whole grains, fruits, and even sweet vegetables.
You might be asking, “What about desserts?” No worries; that’s where stevia comes into place. This herb is perfect for satisfying that dessert craving without any negative side effects.
Stevia—A Truly Healthy Sweetener
Unlike many other sugar alternatives, stevia is actually an herb. It is special in that is extraordinarily sweet. While some other herbs are naturally sweet, such as cinnamon and licorice, stevia is actually 200–300 times sweeter than sugar. And like other herbs, it comes with additional medicinal benefits.
Stevia is a member of the chrysanthemum family, closely related to chamomile and tarragon, two naturally sweet herbs. It has been used by populations where it grows in South America and in Japan for the past thirty years.
I personally have used a quality liquid stevia concentrate for a few years now and feel wonderful. It is virtually calorie-free and safe for diabetics, doesn’t feed pathogenic bacteria, satisfies your sweet tooth, prevents cavities, and won't raise your blood sugar levels.
How Does It Taste?
This depends on the quality of the plant. There are tons of options now and most of them aren’t great, in my experience. The extracts are often very bitter and of poor quality. There is even some word of genetic modification of the plant now, so you definitely want to reach for quality.
I recommend you buy the raw stevia as a green powder. This is the most earthy tasting but the purest; it taste is very similar to licorice, and if you’re a beginner, it might take getting used to. Stevia in the white powder form is the extract version and is often cut with maltodextrin and is surprisingly bitter.
Also, the white extract powder does not have the health benefits of the raw green stevia, but many use it because it better tasting compared to the raw leaf. Both can help prevent cavities because they will not feed pathogenic bacteria and they do not raise blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics.
Selecting Your Stevia
Stevia is available in many forms today; including powdered green leaves and crude syrup. These two forms are the most medicinal, but also have the bitterest aftertaste.
For those just starting out, the best bet is the liquid concentrate using the white powder. Obviously nothing beats the raw leaf; however, the concentrate makes it more palatable. Also, in liquid form it is easier to control the amount you add to beverages. It’s easy to over-sweeten with stevia.
I recommend the companies Omica Organics and Body Ecology, both that are made from a quality, non-gmo stevia concentrated powder and water (no alcohol). I did recently see SweetLeaf Stevia launch a concentrate as well, that might be worth checking out and available in most stores.
Try stevia as an alternative to sugar, honey, and agave. Use it to sweeten tea, lemonade, smoothies, juices, and even coffee. Experiment and have fun. I have been able to get incredibly creative using stevia. I’ve made plenty of deliciously satisfying desserts that not only have no negative side effects but come with health benefits.
Keep in mind that no wonder supplement, food, or herb will be the main cause of healing. There is no magic potion to pure health; it is a journey to wholeness. I highly recommend taking a step-by-step approach to healing.
Sometimes one small step in the right direction is the most important decision of all. By replacing refined sugary, high-carb foods with a high-quality stevia, you will be taking a great first step that will start you down the path to deeper healing.