In honor of winter, which brings along everyone’s favorite white powder (unless you’re lucky enough to live in Miami…), today’s post is about a different sort of white powder: Stevia
What are your thoughts on sugar?
I’ll go first: I’m a bit wary of including a lot of sugar in my diet, not because of the calories (if anything, I try to eat as many calories as I can, not as few), but because of how sugar made me feel in the past. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t think sugar can be part of a healthy diet.
Why is sugar perceived to be so bad?
The media gives a bad name to sugar, but the truth is that if one isn’t trying to lose weight (and even if one is), there is absolutely no harm in including some sugar in one’s everyday diet. Sure, it’s devoid of nutrition, but that doesn’t mean it has negative nutrition (as long as you brush your teeth thoroughly). Also, some sugars, like maple syrup and blackstrap molasses do have nutritional value. Blackstrap molasses is an exceptionally-high source of iron, and it also contains calcium, potassium, copper, and magnesium. In other words, it’s a super sugar!
The main reason people are told to cut back on sugar is that they eat sugary foods instead of nutrient-dense ones. But unless you have diabetes or another such illness, I’d argue that as long as you’re getting enough nutrients in your diet, there’s nothing wrong with eating non-nutritious, sugary foods too. Sugar may not help you get in more nutrients, but it certainly won’t hurt you or take away the nutrients you are getting. (I’m not a doctor, so take my opinion with a grain of salt sugar ;).)
What about artificial sweeteners?
I admit that I don’t have much experience with these. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever tried Splenda or any products containing it. My only encounters with artificial sweeteners: When I was younger, I hated soda (still do); therefore, at restaurants, my habit was to order iced tea. My mom told me that Sweet-n-Low dissolved better than regular sugar in iced tea, so I’d use that. But I kept getting stomach aches, so my doctor recommended I try nixing the Sweet-n-Low. Surprise: the stomach aches went away! Maybe it was a coincidence, but maybe–on the other hand–my stomach was trying to tell me that people aren’t supposed to ingest dangerous chemicals in place of real food!
What about stevia? Is it safe?
As I said before, I’m not a doctor, so I can only tell you my opinion. I’ve heard the lab-rat studies that claim to show stevia is unsafe. But honestly, I think those studies are flawed because the rats were fed HUGE amounts of stevia, and anything in such a high quantity will produce negative results. (Did you know that too much broccoli can cause acid poisoning? Or that too much cinnamon damages the liver?) Stevia, an herb, has been used for centuries in South America and Japan to sweeten teas and other foods, without evidence of harm. So looking at historical evidence, it seems as if stevia—when used sparingly—is harmless.
Ways I use sugar, followed by ways I use stevia. Without much of a sweet tooth, I don’t really use much of either. But I feel that there’s a place for both in a healthy diet. Variety is the spice of life, right? Well, that and some good-quality onion powder ;).