Stevia: Is This Sugar Alternative Safe for Your Teeth?
By their very nature, alternative sweeteners seem a little too good to be true. The claim is that they offer sweetness without the unwanted health effects of sugar.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes several sugar alternatives as generally safe,1 these sweeteners are not the same in terms of the risks and benefits they pose. In fact, some have been linked to several health problems.2
But one sugar alternative stands out from the pack: Stevia. Because it’s made from a plant, Stevia is not considered an artificial sweetener but rather a natural sweetener.
What Is Stevia, and Where Can You Find It?
Stevia is unique in the sugar alternative world because it’s the only FDA-approved natural sweetener. Stevia is made from the stevia plant, so it’s not synthetic like artificial sweeteners.
Stevia is available in powder/granular or liquid forms at most supermarkets. Stevia can be added to all sorts of foods and beverages that would use sugar, although you would use much less Stevia because it is much sweeter than sugar (up to 300 times sweeter).3
The Bottom Line: Is Stevia Tooth Safe?
In short: Yes, Stevia is safe for your oral health. Here’s why: Have you ever wondered why your dentist wants you to limit your sugar intake? Because sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay and cavities. Sugar is a high-fermentable carbohydrate – this type of carbohydrate is linked to a higher risk of cavities.
Stevia not only has no calories but also no carbohydrates, so it doesn’t feed cavity-causing bacteria. Therefore, it won’t pose the oral health risks of sugar.3
Finding healthful alternatives is a great way to enjoy the foods you love while maintaining your oral health. If you’re interested in adding Stevia to your diet but have questions, talk to your dentist. Diets are complex, and your dentist can help you navigate through any challenges and find the diet that fits with your health and lifestyle.
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Cool Down With This Banana Berry Ice Cream Recipe
You can quickly whip up this ice cream recipe, and it hits the spot on Iowa’s hottest summer days. With just five ingredients and a blender or food processor, you’ll have a delicious treat that packs some major health benefits, too.
Why is this recipe mouth-friendly? First, it contains milk, which contains calcium, phosphorus and healthy proteins to protect your teeth. Milk also helps stimulate saliva, which keeps cavity-causing bacteria at bay.1 Second, this recipe features berries, which are known to be lower in sugar,2 and research has shown that blueberries and cranberries have been shown to limit the bad bacteria in the mouth that leads to cavities and gum disease.3 Finally, it contains bananas. Although bananas have higher levels of sugar compared to other fruits, they contain vitamin C, magnesium and calcium, which help support tooth health.
Now that you know why it’s good for you, it’s time to get to the fun part: Making the ice cream.
- 2 ripe bananas
- 1 cup frozen berries
- ¼ cup milk
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Your favorite toppings (fresh berries and sugar-free whipped cream are a great choices!)
- Peel and cut the ripe bananas into large pieces. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours.
- Once the banana slices are frozen, blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth; the appearance should look similar to soft-serve ice cream.
- If you like a firmer ice cream, freeze for another 30 minutes. If not, it’s ready to eat. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!