Stevia Versus Sugar

When it comes to sugar, Americans are the top – and not in a good way.  According to Euromonitor, a business intelligence company based out of London, Americans consume an average of 126 grams of sugar per day.   Unfortunately, that is 2.5 times the daily recommended amount set by the World Health Organization (50 grams daily).  And, all that sugar can really take a toll on a person’s body.  Type 2 Diabetes, reactive hypoglycemia, tooth decay, metabolic syndrome, and obesity can all result from too much sugar consumption.  So, how can you satisfy your sweet tooth, without putting your health at risk?

You may have heard of stevia.  And, in the stevia versus sugar debate, there have been a lot of arguments on both sides.  But, what exactly is stevia, and why does it have some staunch supporters?  Well, imagine a plant that is 200 times sweeter than sugar in the same concentration, but doesn’t have calories.  You would think that this would be some miracle product, but it is real.  The problem is, most people are wary of sugar alternatives – and sometimes they have a good point.  So, let’s talk: stevia versus sugar.

Stevia Versus Sugar: For Health

Firstly, we know from the information above that stevia is much sweeter than sugar, for fewer calories.  And, since sugar has been linked to obesity, that could be a major bonus that stevia has over sugar.  But, the main problems with stevia are those that are the same across the board with low-calorie sweeteners.  Basically, if you use a low-calorie sweetener in lieu of a high-calorie one like sugar, you may overeat.  This is a phenomenon that scientists observed in rats.  Most likely, this happens because your body expects a certain amount of calories with the sweetness, and the lack of calories creates a mismatch in the brain.  However, other studies suggested that people did not overeat after a meal made with stevia versus sugar.  On the other hand, people who ate stevia-sweetened meals experienced a smaller spike in blood sugar and resulting insulin, especially in comparison to sucrose and aspartame.  So, in terms of low-calorie sweeteners, stevia may be the best one for you.

Stevia Versus Sugar: For Ease of Use

To be honest, in the stevia versus sugar debate, neither party necessarily wins out here.  Sugar is widely available, almost ridiculously so; you can also buy it in massive bulk quantities for relatively cheap.  Stevia, on the other hand, is a little more difficult to find, comes in smaller quantities, and runs a little more expensive.  However, there is one advantage that stevia has over cane sugar – you can grow it at home.  Stevia is a “tender perennial,” which means that it easily dies in a freeze.  However, it is hardy up to USDA Planting Zone 11.  Of course, if you don’t mean to weather the same plant over the winter, you can just get it every spring, or keep it in a potted container.  Stevia grows pretty tall (easily 4 feet), even in a small pot.  But, perhaps the best thing about stevia is that you can simply pick and wash the leaves, then put them directly into your cooking.  So, you can pop a leaf into a sweet sauce, or one into your morning tea.  Basically, using stevia versus sugar is up to you – both can be relatively easy, depending on your circumstances.

Stevia Versus Sugar: Other Benefits

While using stevia seems generally better than sugar, there may be one other additional benefit to opting for the leafy plant.  Stevia may help lessen hypertension (high blood pressure).  However, that does go both ways – low blood pressure could be detrimental to your health, depending on any medical conditions.  Plus, stevia may interact with certain medications.  So, it’s important to contact your doctor if you have questions about stevia and your health.  On the other hand, sugar is a powerful stimulant.  So, if you need a burst of energy, you may opt to satisfy your sweet tooth that way.  Perhaps the real answer to stevia versus sugar is that it depends on your situation.  Stocking your cupboard with both should do the trick!