"Life is short, make it sweet"
"Cotton candy skies up ahead!"
That childhood memory of eating our first cotton candy (or the diabetes cloud as they call it;-)). Well, we know the story, sugar is some kind of a 'faux ami'.
But let's talk about the less well known case of sweeteners.
Low calorie natural sweeteners are becoming an increasingly popular pantry ingredient in many households. They can seem like a blessing, especially if you have a sweet tooth and are conscious about your total caloric intake. Low calorie natural sweeteners are known to be relatively safer than sugar alcohols and other synthetic sweeteners or even refined sugar and therefore offers a sigh of relief and opens the gateway to curb all our sugar cravings! Or does it really? Let’s find out!
The most common low-calorie natural sweetener is Stevia. Stevia as you may know is a plant derived sweetener that offers no nutritional benefits and is only known for its lower calories.
Although stevia is a plant derived sweetener, it is not in its purest form when sold by manufacturers and is usually found in its highly refined form, rebaudioside A (Reb-A). Reb-A is usually combined with other sugar alcohols such as maltitol and modified sugars such as maltodextrin. So, watch out for the ingredient list when you grab your next (or your first) pack of stevia sweetener off the grocer’s shelf.
Stevia has no proven health benefits in a healthy individual but can help lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. It may also help increase insulin sensitivity. Stevia is generally regarded as safe. However, stevia might cause digestive problems, bloating and with chronic use, it might cause harm to the kidneys.
It is only wise to use a non-nutritive sugar substitute in moderation. A pinch of stevia provides the sweetness of that of a tablespoon of sugar. You may add stevia to your hot drinks or replace high calorie sweeteners in baking sweet treats works well too. Give stevia a go and let us know what you think.
This blog was written in collaboration with Sathya Mohan, Ms. in Food Science and MBA student at the University of Greenwich. His research focuses on consumers’ product ingredient awareness and the influence it has on purchase behaviour of protein supplements.
If you want to learn more, lsupport his research, you can take part in a short survey: https://greenwich.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/whey-protein-questionnaire
The Good Fit Project, 19th November 2020