One of the hardest things for someone who is diagnosed with diabetes to deal with is the loss of some of their favorite foods. Let's face it, people are addicted to sugar! We crave that sweet taste and indulge ourselves any chance we get with doughnuts, candy, and everybody's favorite, soda. The problem is these foods can be harmful or even deadly to someone suffering from type 2 diabetes. While some types of sweet foods can be eaten in moderation, ingesting these sweet sugar filled foods is risky and will ensure that the diabetic will have to increase blood monitoring. There are many foods that claim to be diabetic friendly and sugar free, but at what cost? Many of these sweeteners have proven to be either unsafe, or simply don't do their job as an effective sugar substitute. There is a new kid on the block in the sweetener category though, and it is called Stevia.
Stevia, or Stevia Rebaudiana to be more precise, is an extract derived from a small shrub found in parts of Brazil and Paraguay. It is an all natural substance that is purported to be more than 300 times sweeter than sugar making it a cost effective and taste effective replacement for the yucky white stuff. The jury is out currently as to whether or not stevia can truly be declared a safe food additive by the FDA; it is currently labeled as a food supplement, rather than a sweetener. Perhaps this is due to the over whelming power and strength of the existing sweetener lobbyists would benefit from keeping a sweetener such as stevia from competing in their marketplace. Those individuals suffering from diabetes are usually less concerned with the monetary positions of these large companies and more interested in their quality of life. As far as being safe is concerned, stevia has purportedly been used by the natives of the plant's country of origin for thousands of years. Its first recorded use as a sweetening agent dates back to the early 1800's. In addition, many other countries currently use stevia in their sugar free products including most notably the sugar free version of Wrigley's gum sold in Japan.
As recently as a few years ago, some large and powerful corporations including Coca Cola have taken the position in favor of stevia. They are behind a stevia based product called Truvia which could eventually be used in the production of sugar free coca cola products among other types of diabetic friendly foods.
If the move to keep stevia from out grocery store shelves is one of safety, how can an opponent argue in favor of sugar which has a laundry list of harmful maladies associated with it? It seems that this all natural ingredient derived from a shrub that has been used for thousands of years with no ill effects should at least be given a chance. It is possible to find packets of stevia in select food markets and slowly but surely it is finding its way into the ingredients of certain types of foods. Perhaps this all natural sweetener will be the answer that some sweet craving diabetics have been searching for.