Health Scoop

A zero calorie sweetener that may actually be good for you

DISCOVERING AN ALL-NATURAL, no calorie sweetener was thrilling when I came across Stevia years ago. In comparison to the other sugar substitutes, it always seemed like the healthiest zero calorie option. Whether because of commercial reasons, or a lack of investment in advertisements paralleling Splenda’s whimsical ad campaign, it seemed to be slow in catching on. Now, green sweetener packets are finally popping up in the rainbow of blue, pink, and yellow on local coffee shop counters.

Stevia extracted from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant, is over one hundred times sweeter than sugar, contains zero calories, and now researchers are telling us that it may actually decrease the risk of progression to diabetes. This is not only through the obvious (by substituting sugar) but the less so – by stimulating a protein on cells that influences taste perception and insulin release.

According to researchers this protein forms an ion channel (called TRPM5), found on taste buds and in the pancreas from through which electrical charges flow. The active components of stevia extract, stevioside and steviol, stimulate this ion channel to execute the taste perception of sweet, bitter, and umami (water taste). This channel, when stimulated, may also be responsible for more insulin release from the pancreas which can lower post-meal glucose levels in those with low insulin sensitivity and a higher predisposition to diabetes.

Although it is premature to say Stevia may be part of the treatment for those with high blood sugar, it may have more benefit than just making your coffee taste decent.

Ref: Philippaert et al. Steviol glycosides enhance pancreatic beta-cell function and taste sensation by potentiation of TRPM5 channel activity. Nature Communications, 2017; 8: 14733

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    LeAnn
    April 14, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Great post! I use stevia all that time now. It has a rich natural sweet flavor and doesn’t take much to sweeten my coffee and tea. Much better than processed sugar any day!

  • Reply
    Kurt Wagner
    April 15, 2017 at 5:24 am

    My father can use this. He has diabetes so this info can do him good thanks.

  • Reply
    kittyprydexmen
    April 15, 2017 at 5:55 am

    Zero sugar is always good. Although I think it is impossible to eliminate sugar on everything completely.

  • Reply
    Angelo
    April 15, 2017 at 6:14 am

    This is the first time that I heard such zero calorie sweetener Stevia. It would be the best replacement for sugar and is good for people who have diabetes really since one of the things diabetic people must avoid in their diet to eat sweets and sweets contains sugars. If this Stevia is a healthy sweetener, a diabetic person will now enjoy the tastes of the sweets without worrying their sugar levels might increase. This is a great discovery.

  • Reply
    Mau
    April 15, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    This is good to know. In general I am wary of commercialized products which promise great things but I might just give this a try.

  • Reply
    Scott
    April 15, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Yep we are using Stevia! It does makes wonders to one’s blood sugar levels. Tried and tested!

  • Reply
    Brunner
    April 16, 2017 at 11:24 am

    A sweetener that may actually decrease the risk of progression to diabetes eh? Sounds really good. I wonder how honey stands against this product though.

  • Reply
    Finley
    April 17, 2017 at 11:12 am

    If this zero-calorie sweetener will catch on, expect it to be put on everything: pastries, chips, sodas, and whatnot. That doesn’t mean our food choices will get any healthier, though. Nevertheless, color me intrigued!

  • Reply
    Charlene
    April 17, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Wow, finally a sweetener that isn’t artificial! Will do more reasearch but thanks for such helpful post.

  • Reply
    Nicole
    April 17, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Honestly this is the first time I’ve heard of Stevia. And greater news is that it is natural! Can now enjoy baking using this!

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