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Friday, February 15, 2008

The Sweetener Stevia and Diet Soda

It was several years ago, I believe, that I first began to hear about Stevia. From what I understand, Stevia is a zero calorie herb that has been used in Paraguay for centuries as a natural sweetner. Stevia extracts are reportedly three hundred times sweeter than sugar.

Of special interest to individuals with diabetes, of course, is that stevia has a neglible effect on blood glucose levels. Diabetics currently have a range of artificially sweetened deserts and candies available to them. However, many of them are sweetened with sugar alcohols that, while they have a lesser effect on glucose than sugar, nonetheless still affect glucose levels (and many have "disquieting" gastrointestinal side effects).

I don't claim to know the history on Stevia. But for some reason, Stevia was banned for use in the U.S. as a food, meaning that it, likewise, cannot be used in food. It can be brought in for use as a supplement, though...How this makes sense, I don't know. If the ban on stevia use in food concerns the issue of safety, then, logically, Stevia shouldn't be avaible for importation for any purpose.

The Coca-Cola company would seem to be an advocate for Stevia and reportedly has the aim of pushing the FDA to change the way it views this natural sweetener. Why? So it may market new products using Stevia. Which may not be a bad thing since aspartame breaks down into aspartic acid, an excitotoxin and formaldehyde (however, it should be said that the scientific evidence, to date, does not conclude that it is possible to consume enough aspartame to cause problems with regard to formaldehyde and blood levelf of aspartic acid).

What's interesting for me is that Stevia has been shown in lab studies to have the potenial for improving insulin sensitivity and even the potential for promoting the production of insulin. If these early indications pan out, Stevia could be a boon to type I and type II diabetics as well as beneficial to soft drink makers and other companies desiring to cash in on a natural sweetening agent.








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1 Comments:

At February 18, 2008 11:52 AM , Blogger DD of A Better Childhood said...

I am interested in learning more about stevia. I have started a lens in Squidoo about it.

http://www.squidoo.com/bhip_stevia

thank you for this blog

 

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