Learning what to look for in stevia can help you stay healthy, on track with your nutrition programs, and more. These are my tips to help you find the best stevia sugar substitute in the stores.
Stevia is all the rage lately, but as with anything popular there are also some products that we need to watch. Not all brands are completely up front with their ingredients, so the first thing we need to learn is to always read the FDA label.
Is Stevia good for you?
If you’re not growing your own, you should know that some brands of stevia are great, and stevia is a great choice in natural sweeteners. It’s the blends and mixes that we need to be leery of…some even contain artificial sweeteners, which defeats the purpose of using a natural sweetener.
Stevia doesn’t spike your blood sugar like traditional refined sugars, which makes it a good choice for those who are watching what they eat and those with high blood pressure.
Is Stevia safe?
Yes, Stevia is safe. While I can’t speak for Stevia with other ingredients mixed in, if you find pure Stevia you’ll be avoiding added sugars and artificial sugars in your diet.
What is Stevia Sugar Substitute?
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the plant species Stevia Rebaudiana. The part that makes them sweet are called steviol glycoside. The plants are native in Brazil and Paraguay, but you can easily grow them in your garden here in the United States.
Stevia is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar, which means that you need to use a very small amount to sweeten your baked goods and drinks.
As of now, stevia extract lives among the sugar substitutes at your local grocery store. The main difference between stevia and other sweeteners is that it comes from a plant and not a chemical.
What To Look For In Stevia
Rather than give you a hard and fast list of brands that are okay, I’m going to show you exactly what to look for in Stevia. Since brands often change their ingredients and packaging, this is a much better system than relying on what something looks like or is called in the stores.
If you’re on the 21 Day Fix, you’ll want to listen up because natural sweeteners like Stevia are on the approved food list, but artificial sweeteners are not.
Stay away from:
Here’s what you don’t want to see in your Stevia. When shopping for this natural sweetener, stay away from:
Be careful when shopping for Stevia to make sure that sugar is not in your no-calorie sugar alternative.
- Other Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners can impact your metabolism and stall your weight loss. Stevia on its own is a natural sweetener (it comes from plant sleaves) that is sugar free, calorie free, and relatively low impact for your body.
When you are purchasing your Stevia, ensure it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners or filler ingredients by reading the Food and Drug Administration’s nutrition label as well as the ingredients.
Common artificial sweeteners that are sometimes used in Stevia are:
Watch out for hidden ingredients
Here’s a label that will show another way (aside from reading after the word “Ingredients”) to see if there are other sugars getting involved with your Stevia.
Sometimes you’ll notice that there aren’t a list of ingredients on a package, but the nutritional label shows that there is erythritol (sometimes labeled sugar alcohol) under sugars or carbs on the label.
This is from a product I found online, and while there are no ingredients listed, I saw that the label shows erythritol at 3g per serving.
This is ok:
Now we’re going to take a look at what labels will look like when you are buying Stevia that is natural, and made from only Stevia leaves.
Here we see a label that is showing us that nothing is added under total carbohydrates or sugars. We can feel more confident that there are no extra ingredients added to this Stevia.
- Stevia Only
Unfortunately, it’s easy for brands to bulk up their product with sugars and artificial ingredients. You need to be diligent in looking for Stevia that is only Stevia and nothing else.
Stevia is made by drying the plants and extracting the rebaudioside A (also called Reb A) with water. That crude Stevia extract is then crystalized. One brand that rises above the rest when it comes to Stevia production is SweetLeaf–they use only water and not chemicals to crystalize their Stevia.
Stevia Powder or Stevia Liquid?
Stevia powder and liquid both come from the Stevia plant, and both can be a good sugar substitute for those of you who are avoiding artificial sweeteners.
The biggest point I can make about Stevia is this: there are only a handful of real Stevia options out there.
If you are doing all the hard work of changing your diet and exercising, etc. don’t derail yourself with products and ingredients that are not in line with your goals.
Using Stevia products that are 100% pure is the best way to add a sweet taste to your foods and drinks. Other forms of Stevia could leave you with a bitter aftertaste, upset stomach, and cravings for sweets.
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