You may enjoy sweet treats, yet you also know the sweetness in those treats comes with calories. By sweetening with stevia-based sweeteners, you can get the sweetness you enjoy in a way that does not add the number of calories as if you were to sweeten with sugar alone.

Stevia Leaf Extract has Zero Calories—Good News for Weight Management

Stevia leaf extract may be an excellent option for those looking to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle because it has zero calories. The great thing about stevia leaf extract is that it’s a tool that will allow you to eat some of your favorite sweet foods and beverages, but with less sugar. Managing your weight suddenly becomes more attainable.

Stevia leaf extract is a high-intensity sweetener that can be 200-350 times the sweetness of sugar. The intensity of stevia leaf extract is one of the reasons it has zero calories – it takes very little stevia leaf extract to sweeten to the equivalent of sugar.

The other reason stevia leaf extract has zero calories is the way your body digests it. As your body processes the sweetener, stevia leaf extract passes through your digestive tract without being broken down for calories.[1] This is different from the way your body processes sugar: during digestion, complex sugars are broken down into monosaccharides and are absorbed into the bloodstream. Stevia leaf extract may be a good option for sweet-enthusiasts trying to maintain a healthy weight.

Using Stevia Leaf Extract Instead of Sugar

Stevia leaf extract is a sweetener that may help you maintain a healthy weight and can be of great help to those who need to monitor their blood glucose levels—people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Stevia leaf extract makes a great substitute for sugar, though substituting stevia for sugar is not exactly a one for one exchange. Because stevia leaf extract is so much sweeter than sugar, manufacturers have added ingredients that help to disperse the sweetness so it is easier to use in exchange for sugar, such as erythritol or dextrose. Conversion charts and conversion calculators are available to help make that substitute easier when using for cooking or casual sweetening at dinner. There are also different forms of stevia-based sweeteners designed to make baking easier, such as baking blends. A mix of stevia leaf extract and sugar, these blends help you reduce the amount of sugar in your favorite baked treats, but also enable your recipes to turn out with the proper coloring and structure that you expect when using sugar alone. When using a sugar and stevia leaf extract blend as an ingredient, it is important to realize the finished recipe will still contain sugar and those carbohydrates count if you are managing your overall sugar intake.

Safety of Stevia Leaf Extract

Stevia is available commercially in many different forms. “Stevia leaves” are the leaves of the stevia plant that have been crushed or otherwise processed. “Crude stevia” or “crude stevia extract” is another raw form of stevia which may contain raw and less processed stevia. Neither crude stevia nor crude stevia extract is GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) as is therefore not permitted for use as a food additive under US FDA requirements. “Stevia leaf extract,” on the other hand, is the purified form of stevia that is 95% pure[2] (composed of very sweet components in the stevia leaf) and is GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) in accordance with US FDA requirements.[3]

Stevia Leaf Extract is a Smart Health Conscious Choice—Even for People with Diabetes

Stevia leaf extract is a safe choice for people with diabetes or people that need to limit their sugar intake. Studies have demonstrated that stevia leaf extract has no effect on blood glucose levels.[4] [5]

[1] Carakostas MC, Curry LL, Boileau AC, Brusick DJ. Overview: The history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages. Food Chem Toxicol 46 (2008) S1–S10.

[2] Prakash I, DuBois GE, Clos JF, Wilkens KL, Fosdick LE. Development of rebiana, a natural, non-caloric sweetener. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46 (2008) S77

[3] http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/@fdagov-foods-gen/documents/document/ucm269137.pdf. Accessed 11/7/2016.

[4] Maki KC, Curry LL, Reeves MS, et al. Chronic consumption of rebaudioside A, a steviol glycoside, in men and women with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Food and Chemical Toxicology 46 (2008) S47-S53.

[5] Carakostas MC, Curry LL, Boileau AC, Brusick DJ. Overview: The history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages. Food Chem Toxicol 46 (2008) S1–S10.