When it comes to good nutrition, it’s the total diet –the overall quality and quantity of the foods and beverages you eat and drink throughout the day – that matter most. It’s not about good foods and bad foods. Rather, it’s about balancing your diet to prioritize healthier foods, while still leaving room for the occasional treat.
One of the ways to achieve a more balanced diet is to reduce the level of unwanted calories in your diet. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends limiting calories from total fat and added sugars, and recently lowered its sugar intake recommendation from 10 percent of daily calorie intake to five percent. For an adult of a normal weight, that works out to no more than about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams of sugar per day. It is important to realize that the term “added sugars” in the diet refers to any caloric sweetener that can be added into a food or beverage and potentially create excess, unwanted calories. And for that reason, it is best to not single out any one caloric sweetener, but instead, to aim to reduce total calories from added sweeteners overall regardless of the sweetener source. Among the many strategies to consider to achieve this reduction is a substitution with a non-caloric sweetener like stevia.
Effective body weight management can be challenging, especially when we all want to enjoy convenient, affordable, great-tasting foods and beverages. At the end of the day, weight management is an equation of calorie balance. In other words, you need to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight. Exercise and daily physical activity certainly help burn calories and boost mood; and for the other half of the equation, reducing caloric intake by eating smaller portions and choosing relatively lower calorie options when possible are equally important. This is where stevia fits in. With so many stevia-sweetened foods and beverages now available globally –ranging from baked goods to yogurt, or on its own as a tabletop sweetener– you are sure to find plenty of delicious options to fit within your personal calorie needs.
People who love the taste of stevia-containing foods and beverages often wonder about how much stevia is okay to consume. It turns out the regulatory authorities have already taken this into account and developed something known as the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for stevia.
The ADI for stevia is set more specifically for steviol glycosides, the sweet components extracted from stevia leaf, and is expressed as the steviol equivalents of 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day. The reason for the concept of “steviol equivalents” is because the different glycosides are unique in their structure and have to balanced out to one overall metabolic equation. All said, this equates to approximately 12 milligrams of high purity stevia extracts per kilogram of body weight per day. So what does this really mean?
A 150-pound (70 kg) person would need to consume approximately 40 packets of a tabletop stevia sweetener per day for the rest of their life to reach the ADI. That’s a lot of stevia! And more than anyone would consume in a typical daily diet which is generally healthy and balanced.
For food, as in life, balance is the secret. Eating well and being physically active are some of the most things you can do for better health. Reducing calories with moderate portions and smart substitutions like stevia can help make balancing your diet, managing your weight, and life, a little sweeter.