The most popular sweetener in the world, sugar, was invented in India. There is a reference to sugarcane cultivation and the preparation of sugar in the Atharva Veda. Sugar became known to the world when the army of Alexander the Great came to India in 327 BC.
Traditionally, any joyous occasion in India is celebrated with intake of sweets. Also, it is customary to “sweeten the mouth” after every meal, any joyous occasion, religious festival or social gathering.
Indian religious offerings mostly contain the five amrits (elixirs) like milk, curd, ghee (clarified butter), honey, and sugar; these indicate the importance of sugar not only as a food item but also as intrinsic to the Indian way of life. While sugar is of considerable cultural relevance in India, nutritionally it provides only “empty” calories (1 g of sugar gives 4 kcal). It lacks the natural minerals that are present in sugarcane.
There is a strong relationship between calorie intake and obesity. In India, the prevalence of obesity is increasing at a rapid pace owing to increased purchasing power and availability of high fat, energy-dense foods, along with reduction in energy expenditure resulting from urbanization and automation.
Parallel to the rise in obesity is the increase in type 2 diabetes among Indians, which has reached epidemic proportions. India has more than 65 million diabetics, second only to China worldwide! Data from the Indian sugar trade industry (2013) show that India is the second largest producer of sugar after Brazil and the largest consumer of sugar in the world.
Multiple short-term studies have shown that sugar intake contributes to various metabolic disorders due to accrual of body fat, as well as directly through excess non-esterified fatty acid (NEFAs), which in turn impairs critical functioning of the liver, pancreas, and cellular functions.
The American Heart Association says men should eat no more than 37.5 grams of sugar a day and women should eat no more than 25 grams. But the World Health Organization now says even those allowances are too high suggesting both men and women should eat 25 grams or fewer each day.
Dietary guidelines for Indians in 2011 recommended less than 10% of total calories from free sugars per day.
The most effective way to reduce sugar dependency is to replace it with a safe, natural substitute that gives you the sweetness you want, without the calories you don’t need.
Stevia Rebaudiana is a widely grown plant, which belongs to the sunflower family, native to Central and South America. Studies have shown that Stevia is a safe and natural, calorie-free sugar substitute and is commonly used to sweeten a number of foods and beverages. The compound responsible for the plant’s sweetness is a glycoside found in the plant’s leaves. Steviol glycosides are said to be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Try the Nutriplus™ Natose Stevia Liquid Concentrate from QNET, a natural sweetener extracted from leaves of the Stevia plant. It’s 100% vegetarian, contains no artificial flavouring, and has a low glycemic index.
Stevia’s sweetness is very concentrated, so a little goes a long way; a half teaspoon has the same sweetness as one cup of sugar! Stevia can be substituted for sugar in every instance.
Some useful ways to use the Nutriplus Natose include adding it to your cereal, oatmeal, tea and coffee, lemonade, smoothies, and jams. It’s also good in homemade puddings, ice creams, and other desserts. Add a few drops for an interesting flavor balance, in your cooking.
Have you tried the Nutriplus Natos Stevia? Do you find it a useful alternative to sugar? We would love to hear your thoughts…