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Healthy drinks with stevia - are they really healthy?

It seems like there is always a new edge or niche that food manufacturers use to try and get people to believe that their products may actually be doing them some good. The interest in health and the demand for healthy food and healthy drinks is getting big, needless to say the food giants are very well aware of it! Every year there are new products like ‘healthy drinks’ and ‘healthy snacks’  that are zero calories, low fat (don’t even get me started on Zero Calorie chapter I think that’d be another article) or that may contain something that marginally resembles an antioxidant.

Well, in recent months we have seen a new wave of supposed healthy drinks with stevia and other products hanging the healthy hat upon the sweetener stevia. This new addition to the healthy sweetener isle is an extract from a leaf, which contains a potent group of compounds called steviol glycosides, which are thought to be roughly 150 times sweeter than the simple disaccharides we find in every day sugar.

The reason that this ‘healthy’ sweetener has suddenly become such a new craze is that, at last, it seems that we have a sweet compound that has zero influence on our blood sugar, in essence making it ‘calorie free’ although I’m sure if you threw it to one of the incinerators used to measure calories, it would register, it just doesn’t yield its energy under normal Human physiological conditions. This has got everyone excited and it has now made its way into virtually every diet product already, with the promise that you can gorge yourself to your hearts content and be actively improving your health. Well..no!

Here is one of the big problems that permeates the health world. People are making the claim that the products that contain stevia are healthy, just because they have swapped bog standard sugar for some of this extract. Whether it is the apparently healthy drinks, or low calorie cakes. They all wave the healthy banner. Just because a product has one positive attribute, that does not for a second make it healthy.

There is an old saying that the whole is very often greater than the sum of its parts! Lets look at one of the biggest for example; Coca Cola Life 

This ‘healthy’ beverage is a heady cocktail of fizzy water, caramel colouring, phosphoric acid, flavourings from who knows where, oh…and a little bit of stevia. Hardly health in a glass. That or a green juice? Hmmm….I’m really torn on this one!

So what am I getting at in all of this? Well, stevia itself is definitely a great choice of sweetener to use in your own cooking. Adding the latter in place of things like agave or honey is a great option if you really want to follow a low GI diet, or are a low carb fan. It will give you an intense sweetness without so much a s nudging up your blood sugar levels. You could make all manner of desserts using ingredients like avocados and almond flour etc, that would taste wonderfully sweet and decadent, yet be just a total clean protein and fat fest. What I really want to get across is, just don’t be fooled into thinking that a product is healthy just because it is hanging a health claim on a single small factor (regardless of whether it’s a ‘healthy drink, a ‘healthy snack’ or another allegedly ‘healthy’ product) . Processed nasty junk is still that, even if it is flavoured by a funky leaf. Forget the rubbish in a packet, get into your own kitchen and create your own healthy food, and healthy drinks. Ultimately, I am sure stevia could certainly be of help to get your own home made healthy food taste as sweet as you want.

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