We recently found out that mithai (traditional sweets) is also made with synthetic sweeteners, and tastes better than those made in regular sugar.
Um, wait. What?
Please excuse our ignorance since we do not have underlying health issues which would bar us from consuming sugary foods this came as a ‘huh?’ moment, soon followed by an ‘ah’.
And it got us thinking, sure, people with medical conditions, especially diabetes, may be required to pay close attention to their sugar intake, but what about people who do not face such health concerns, can we too make the switch – from regular -sugar to synthetic sweeteners – just because?
Not that we believe sugar to be the devil, we merely ponder over this as we find our (high) consumption of sugary stuff to have reached a love-hate relationship. However, giving it up is not an option which is why we mull over whether synthetic sweeteners may serve us better.
We have strived for a while now to find alternatives for sugar, or more accurately healthier alternatives that can be used to sweeten our food and drinks without any risks related to calories or diabetes.
For quite some time honey and brown sugar have been considered a suitable natural alternative as they don’t bring forth risks associated with synthetic white sugar; however, they are equally heavy in calories.
Synthetic sweeteners would be another alternative which get a bad reputation for being un-natural.
This is where stevia comes in, a natural sweetener that not only omits risks related to white sugar, but also, unlike other natural sweet sources, doesn’t contain calories.
A little digging, and this is what we found
Low-calorie sweeteners, like Equal, which is also available in Stevia based variants, are sweeter than table sugar - 200 to 700 times sweeter - however, the total number of calories found in most is either usually 0 or negligible, unlike regular sugar which packs 60 calories per tablespoon.
Stevia, which was discovered about 200 years ago, has been a rich source of natural sweetness.
You can find natural stevia in Pakistan in the form of Equal, a brand owned by Merisant US.
Equal Stevia specifically is a 100% natural stevia-based sugar alternative that along with having 0 calories has no apparent side effects. It comes from a leaf family related to popular garden flowers, like asters and chrysanthemums.
Since weight management, including loss, maintenance and gain, are all simply about counting calories, the option of replacing regular sugar with alternative sweeteners is one of the ways to cut down on calorie intake, if weight loss is in question.
For people like us, who find it hard to keep their hand out of the cookie jar, this can be a game-changer.
What you need to know about Stevia
Stevia comes from a small plant located in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay and was used by the natives for medicinal purposes, as well as to sweeten their beverages like herbal tea.
It only garnered global attention after 1887 after being popularised by a botanist who was introduced to it by the locals.
Stevia only became commercially available after extensive research and experiments were performed by botanists and chemists in the 1970s in Japan. It was as late as 1990s when it was introduced in the USA; stevia has also been approved by the European Union ever since 2011.
Stevia leaves are the original source of steviol glycosides, the key substance that is responsible for the sweetness. Steviol glycosides are extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant, purified, and then used in sweeteners.
As an alternative to sugar, stevia serves beneficially to help reduce risks pertaining to both synthetic sweeteners and white sugar. Stevia can be useful for managing blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, in fact studies have proved that it can even help reduce blood sugar.
Since children are quite susceptible to sugar level imbalances these days due to high consumption of added sugars, Stevia can help in restoring balance.
Stevia also beats all the other synthetic sweeteners to the punch due to its natural composition and no evident drawbacks.
This content is produced in paid partnership with Equal and is not associated with or necessarily reflective of the views of Images or Dawn.com