At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Stevia is a sweetener which comes from a plant known as Stevia rebaudiana. While stevia is most often used in the management of obesity, it also has a number of medicinal purposes. Some of these benefits of stevia include an increase in blood sugar regulation and a decreased rate of stomach virus infection. For best results when using stevia, individuals are encouraged to add the product slowly into their diets. Failing to do so can lead diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
With obesity on the rise, one of the most important benefits of stevia includes a decrease in calorie consumption. Most traditional sugars contain around 4 calories of energy per gram. In contrast, stevia contains high amounts of a particular compound known as stevioside, which has been found to be free from calories. This makes is a good choice for those who are interested in weight loss, as well as for those who are simply interested in preventing further weight gain.
Benefits of stevia also include improvements in blood sugar management. As with obesity, rates of diabetes continue to rise. Unlike traditional types of sugar, which have been found to wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, research has found that those who consume stevia do not see as dramatic changes in blood glucose concentrations. Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes and who are interested in using stevia in the management of the condition should do so under the supervision of a physician. In most cases, these individuals will need to continue to monitor blood sugar levels on a regular basis in order to prevent possible hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.
Stevia has also been proven to be an effective antiviral product. In 2001, a study examining the effects of stevia found that it was effective at preventing the growth of a number of common virus strains associated with the development of the stomach flu. This makes it an excellent option for individuals who are prone to this condition, such as the elderly or others with a weakened immune system.
Individuals who are interested in incorporating stevia into their diets should do so slowly in order to allow the body to adjust to the product. Failure to do so can result in severe gastrointestinal distress. Research has suggested that when starting to use stevia, 50% of the total sweetener should be composed of traditional products, while the remaining 50% can be composed of stevia. As familiarity with the product grows, greater ratios of stevia can be incorporated into the diet.