Why Stevia Is in a Class of Its Own and is Proving to be Better Than Any Other Natural Sugar Sweetener
Your body is your temple, and choosing the best vegan protein powder in Australia means finding a product that gives you all your essential nutrients, aminos, and quality MCTs to keep you balanced, thriving, and full of energy.
However, even the best sounding chocolate protein powder shake in the morning fall short if it simply doesn’t taste good. Great tasting vegan protein meals and plant protein powders have one thing in common; they use quality ingredients to sweeten the product.
At the top of the list is stevia, a naturally derived sweetener from the leaves of the plant Stevia rebaudiana that tastes great and has some intriguing health benefits.
Where Does Stevia Originate?
Stevia was well-known as ‘kaa he-he’ (sweet herb) to the Guaraní people of what is present-day Paraguay. They used its remarkable sweetness to offset bitter medicines or herbal drinks since time immemorial, and certainly long before the arrival of Europeans who began hearing of its virtues in the late 1800s and promptly named the plant after a European chemist, Rebaudi.
This happened a lot with interesting plants.
By the early 1900s, stevia had expanded in popularity, but market access was hampered by the well-entrenched sugar trade. A different delivery method was needed, not just raw leaves, and in 1931 two French chemists finally isolated stevioside, a crystalline extract that could stand up to granulated sugar in the global marketplace.
It was Japan, in the 1960s, that paved the way for full-scale adoption of stevia. Confirming its safety above and beyond other natural sugar sweeteners, the Japanese became stevia’s biggest supporters, researching and studying its uses in food and drink and helping the world discover it.
Big Business (you guessed it… sugar and artificial sweeteners) lobbied against stevia’s legal status in the 1980s, sidestepping its long historic use in favour of safety claims. It’s a David and Goliath story that makes for a gripping tale of the corporate intrigue, books have even been penned on it.
The Australian food authority, FSANZ, fully approved stevia in 2008, and the US has issued a positive safety opinion, classifying stevia as a GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) ingredient.
Why Is Stevia in a Class of Its Own?
Stevia does not work on the body the same way most sugars do. Think graduated white and brown, cane and date sugars, fructose and coconut sugar. These substances can be a primary dietary cause of certain metabolic disorders such as obesity. This means that switching from sugars to another natural, low-calorie sweetener such as stevia can directly help you control your weight as part of a maintenance plan, letting you balance the calories you ingest through eating and drinking with the calories you use through work and exercise in your daily routine.
Additionally, for diabetics, stevia is a critical addition to consider. Stevia extracts do not have a noticeable effect on the glycemic index (GI), so when compared to sugar, it causes significantly smaller spike in glucose and insulin levels after eating, helping to flatten out the system and giving the user more control.
Interestingly, this also means that stevia gives you a more pronounced feeling of fullness, or satiety, following food. This, in turn, can help you eat less through increased satisfaction, something that the ‘empty calories’ of sugars fail to do.
A Promising Future Beyond a Vegan Protein Sweetener
Research has indicated that stevia may have a pronounced effect on the ability of cancer cells to grow. In fact, a stevia extract was shown to actually level an anti-cancer effect on tumours, reducing them in size as the stevioside blocks tumour production by inhibiting the production of the DNA that forms the bases of the cancer cells.
This kind of potent activity underlines the raw power of certain naturally occurring substances such as stevia and opens the discussion for the potential long-term health benefits that could be associated with a regular stevia intake as part of your diet.
The same studies also outline several other areas where stevia exerts strong effects. Your dental health could be greatly improved simply by substituting sugar for stevia. Why? Because sugars contain the energy in the form of carbohydrates that break down in your mouth, causing the bacterial growth that leads to gingivitis (inflamed gums), plaque, and dental caries (tooth decay).
Stevia does not cause bacteria (bacteriostatic) and is non-nutritive, meaning the stevioside impact is purely sweetening, without the unwanted additions sugar provides.
Stevia is extremely versatile.
Since stevia is over 200 times sweeter than sugar and calorie-free, can be used in the kitchen as the perfect alternative to the calories you consume in sugar-sweetened foods. Importantly, stevia is perfectly safe for kids and can be used as part of a balanced diet, and even in the best tasting vegetarian protein powders to create yummy homemade cookies and ice cream (yes, dairy-free too!).
And, since stevia is significantly sweeter, you only need use less of it in the foods you prepare. A little of this wonder plant certainly does go a long way.
Finally, stevia is non-GMO, so you can rest assured you’re taking quality ingredients on board as nature intended. Also, with no known side effects or allergies, stevia is a versatile option that can be included in all combinations, recipes, and conceivable uses you may have that fit your particular life needs.
The Leaf That Could
Accessing the benefits of stevia in your daily vegan routine can be simplified by incorporating the best vegan protein powders that offer you the full spectrum of nutrition, amino acids, plant-based proteins, MTCs, and — of course — the sweet taste of stevia.
For an inconspicuous little leaf from South America, stevia has come a long way. It fits all tastes, is a safe, ratified ingredient, and has powerful health benefits that truly set it aside in a class of its own.
When looking for your ideal vegan protein powder, ensure you’re not losing out by accepting less beneficial natural sugar sweeteners. Look for stevia and let this little leaf work its magic on your routine.