The holidays are almost upon us, and whether you’re baking a chocolate yule log or a handmade babka – you might already be worrying about ruining your healthy eating plan. But have you thought about swapping sugar for healthier alternatives?
Swap sugar for sweetener
We associate holiday foods with lots of sugar, but maybe you’re trying to eat healthier for your weight, teeth, or a medical condition such as diabetes? Calorie-free artificial and natural sweeteners have been around for a while, but stevia is the latest to take the world by storm.
What is stevia?
Stevia is derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant native to Central and South America, also known as sweet leaf, which is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. In baking, it can be used in dried powder or liquid extract form. And if you’re wondering what it’s like, the chances are you’ve already had stevia in many low-sugar drinks, desserts, chocolates and dairy products as it was approved by the European Food Safety Authority in 2010.
What are the benefits of stevia?
Because it contains zero calories, stevia is a healthy way to sweeten foods and drinks. This means it can be consumed by diabetics too because it doesn’t spike the blood sugar levels. Stevia also doesn’t contribute to tooth decay, which makes it a great alternative for those with a sweet tooth.
The cons of stevia
Aside from what some consider a slightly bitter aftertaste, there are no health risks to stevia. However, using sweeteners won’t help you curb a sweet tooth for good. That’s because they satisfy the desire for sweetness.
If you’re looking to eat healthier, think about reducing the amounts of treats and sugary drinks you eat. Why not gradually try keeping them as a treat for weekends or special occasions?
How much stevia should I use?
While use of stevia differs for different purposes, generally speaking, you can use 0.5 g of powdered stevia for every 4 g (1 teaspoon) of refined sugar.
How do I use stevia?
Some people prefer to use stevia on its own, but others think it has a slightly bitter taste and prefer to use it with other sweeteners including honey or maple syrup. The best advice is to taste as you go along.
Where can I get stevia from?
There are many different brands of stevia and most can be bought online or from any good health food shop. If you have any health conditions or dietary requirements, check with your GP first that it is safe to use.
If stevia doesn’t work for you, there are many other sugar alternatives for you to try. This means there are plenty of healthier ways to enjoy the treats we all love throughout the holidays without paying the price in January!
If you want any more advice on how to care for your teeth, book an appointment with our dental hygienist at Number 18 Dental.