There are so many new “natural, healthy sweeteners” on the market, it has become quite a challenge to navigate the best sweetener. Stevia is one sweetener that I am constantly asked about. Here is my take!
In general, added sugars should be taken in extreme moderation. They are treats and should be eaten as such – a once-in-a-while treat.
Stevia delivers a sweet taste many times sweeter than table sugar. In fact,4 tbsp of sugar is equivalent to 1/4 tsp of stevia extract.
So, is this good or bad? Well, you don’t need much to make your tea sweet. According to the research, stevia does not seem to have an effect on blood sugar levels. So for those who are checking their morning glucose levels (see below), this is a great – maybe the best – sweet alternative.
That said, it is still a sweet taste, a very sweet taste! When the brain gets a taste of something that is sweet, it doesn’t matter if it affects blood glucose – the brain wants the energy surge that typically follows that sweet taste. So let the buyer beware: it is common for folks to use stevia and keep the sweet taste alive and well in the brain chemistry and then, when you least expect it, you find yourself craving and binging on an irresistible sweet of the old fashioned kind!
Do we have to live in a sweet-free bubble? I sure hope not! Plan your treats. Have them as a part of a large meal with extra protein. This will offset the blood sugar impact of that sweet. It’s the sweets taken alone that really spike the blood sugar and cause most of the problems.
I am also a big fan of taking control of this yourself. Measure your own blood sugar first thing in the morning on a regular basis, so you know if you are creeping towards dangerously high blood sugars.
Your Goal: Fasting AM Blood Sugar –> 70-85 mg/dL
Pre-Diabetes –> 100 mg/dL