The “sweet” leaves of stevia, hailing from Latin America come to give the answer to the constant search for those who want sweet treats, free of calories … Are you one of them, too? If yes, then it’s time to meet the sweetest herb… Stevia!
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a tiny perennial shrub, known under the name «SteviaRebaudianaBertoni», which hails from Latin America (Paraguay – Brazil) but today it is cultivated in many parts of the world.
What’s so special about Stevia?
The leaves of the plant Stevia contain natural sweeteners, so-called “steviol glycosides” (stevioside, rebaudioside-A), which make it 30-40 times sweeter than sugar, while the final product, which is taken by the extraction method is up to 300 times sweeter.
Did you know that 1 teaspoon of Stevia has the same sweetness with about 1 cup of sugar?
Stevia has significant benefits over sugar and other sweeteners, and these are the reasons:
• It is completely natural
• It has enormous sweetening power (300 times sweeter than sugar)
• It is used in smaller quantities
• It is 100% secure
• It is non-carcinogenic unlike other sweeteners
• Remains stable when heated, so it is suitable for frying and stewing
• It is not addictive
• It protects the teeth
• It adds 0 calories
It Stevia suitable for diabetics?
According to some studies, stevia proved suitable for using by diabetics versus sugar or other sweeteners. However, diabetics should ask their doctor before they decide to incorporate it systematically in their daily diet.
How do I use Stevia?
You can use stevia both in your coffee or tea, and in any other beverage or drink you wish (hot or cold). Furthermore, it can be used instead of sugar in recipes for preparing liqueurs (liquor), desserts and foods. The leaves can be used dried, crushed or ground.
It should be noted that, unlike many other sweeteners, such as synthetic aspartame, stevia does not degrade or lose its sweetness, even when it is cooked at temperatures up to 200 degrees Celcius.
The advantages of stevia in comparison with other sweeteners, justify its designation as the “sugar of the future”
It is beneficial for our health?
Stevia unlike sugar helps maintain a balanced diet, without causing health problems, such as creating decay or growth of the fungus Candida Albicans, which is responsible for the appearance of thrush.
Some studies have demonstrated stevia to have no toxic side effects and to be non-carcinogenic and safe for consumption. Its leaves contain many minerals and trace elements (chromium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc), B vitamins (especially niacin) and phytonutrients such as chlorophyll, and plant sterols.
It is alleged that if taken frequently, it can prevent many diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and tooth decay.
Can I trust Stevia?
According to the European Authority for Food Safety (EFSA) and the relevant European Commission regulation, the use of the sweetener stevia is safe for the consumer and can be used in 31 different food categories, as well as tabletop sweetener.
Stevia has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has given to stevia the designation GRAS («generally recognized as safe”).
Is it a good choice for dieters?
Stevia is an ideal choice for people on a diet, as it is the only natural sweetener with zero calories, zero carbohydrates, zero glycemic index and zero glycemic load.
Consequently, it limits energy intake (calories) and contributes positively to weight control. However, in no case, stevia should be considered as a substance that will help you lose weight alone without following a diet and exercise program.
What should I watch out?
Stevia is a good natural alternative to sugar and other sweeteners. However, this does not mean you should do careless use. It is also important to remember that most of the sugar we take in comes from manufactured and processed foods. Therefore we must be careful in general with our eating habits.
The same applies for the standardized products containing stevia. Before you buy them, make sure that they actually have fewer calories than the regular products and do not contain extra fat or extra sugars.
And for those who would like to plant stevia on the balcony or garden…
The cultivation of stevia is easy, as you can plant it in the garden or balcony in a pot and place it in a sunny spot. The best time to plant is in the late spring, early summer, on a sunny day and not night, as it will probably freeze. You can either plant by seed or by root.
Are sweeteners as innocent as they sound?
As an integral part of our diet, sweeteners promise weight loss and a good alternative for those who cannot or don’t want to consume sugar. What happens when you consume more sweeteners and what should the consumers know before they choose?
An interesting study of scientists at the University of Harvard, concluded that people who use artificial sweeteners such as saccharin (saccharin), on average they weigh one to two pounds more than people who use regular sugar.
Natural sugar substitutes
It has the same calories as sugar; it is just sweeter and so it can be used in smaller quantities. Big Fructose concentrations are found in fruits, honey, and other foods, such as vegetables. Research has shown that increased consumption of fructose can raise triglyceride levels in the blood. See also: 8 reasons to eat honey on a daily basis
Sugar alcohols are used in food and very often in chewing gum. They are considered to be safe, but their over consumption can cause abdominal discomfort. In this category there are sweeteners such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt, maltitol and lactitol.
Artificial sugar substitutes
Aspartame: We can find it in cola and light foods such as yoghurts, chewing gum, breakfast cereal, jelly and snacks. It has no calories, it is 200 times sweeter than sugar and can contribute to the loss and maintain of body weight. (Are diet drinks bad for you?)
Saccharin: It is approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories. The daily consumption of saccharin is 5mg per kilogram of body weight, or about 9 teaspoons per day for an average adult.
Acesulfame K: It is found in sauces, beer, candy, jams and beverages. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar and does not give calories. Its use is also approved for diabetics and pregnant women.
Sucralose: It’s made from sugar through a process that changes the structure of the molecule, but is 600 times sweeter. It is used in pastries, cakes, candies and syrups, as well as in coffee or tea.