21
Mar

Stevia as a Sugar Substitute

Stevia is an alternative sugar substitute. The leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant have been enjoyed for their sweetness and used as herbal medicine to treat high blood sugar for hundreds of years. Their sweet taste comes from Steviol glycoside molecules, which are 100–300 times sweeter than regular sugar.

Herbal sweeteners are receiving much attention as natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners and sugars, especially in the management of insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes.  The popularity of Stevia is growing because of a non-nutritive, calorie-free, carb-free alternative to sugar. Many people prefer Stevia to commercially available artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium as it is extracted from a plant rather than produced in a lab. Stevia also contains little to no carbs and doesn’t rapidly raise your blood sugar, making it popular among those who have diabetes or poor blood sugar control.

A study was carried out to investigate the potential protective effects of stevia on blood parameters in diabetic patients. The result of the study showed that the use of stevia (as a natural sweetener) has no significant differences in glycemic response and lipid profile of type 2 diabetic patients. No significant differences were seen in blood insulin, glycosylated hemoglobin, and lipid levels after the use of stevia or sucralose.

Definitions

Glycemic Index (GI): Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-containing foods according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Carbohydrate foods that are digested quickly and rapidly release glucose into the bloodstream have a high GI; those that are digested slowly or partially and gradually release glucose into the bloodstream have a low GI.

Glycemic Response (GR): It refers to the changes in blood glucose after consuming a carbohydrate-containing food.

Lipid Profile Test: Lipid profile is a pattern of lipids in the blood. A lipid profile test or lipid panel is performed to measure:

Total cholesterol level

HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)

LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)

Triglyceride levels


References

Ajami, Marjan, et al. “Effects of stevia on glycemic and lipid profile of type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized controlled trial.” Avicenna journal of phytomedicine 10.2 (2020): 118.

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