Yes, you have read right! A null nutritional value sweetener which is sweeter than sugar. Stevia has 0 kcal energy, 0gms of carbohydrates, 0gms of proteins, 0gms of fats yet a very sweet product and gained popularity in foreign countries. Let’s find out more about Stevia.
What is stevia?
Stevia is a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia Rebaudiana.
The active compounds of stevia are steviol glycosides (mainly stevioside and rebaudioside), which have up to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable. Stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, and some of its extracts may have a bitter or liquorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.
Benefits of Stevia
Apart from using it as a replacement for Sugar it has additional benefits like
- IN DIABETES: Research has shown that stevia sweeteners do not contribute calories or carbohydrates to the diet and do not affect blood glucose or insulin response, which allows people with diabetes to consume a wider variety of foods and comply with a healthful meal plan.
- IN WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: The intake of added sugars has been shown to contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet and has been linked to weight gain and adverse effects on glycemic control. Plant-based, zero calorie stevia can be part of a well-balanced diet to help reduce energy intake without sacrificing taste.
- IN BLOOD PRESSURE: Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion, and urine output. In higher doses, stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure. The plant may have cardiotonic actions, which normalize blood pressure and regulate heartbeat.
Good and bad Stevia
Stevia’s green leaves are naturally sweet. However, those white powder and clear drops we find in groceries have very little to do with stevia leaves. They aren’t really stevia at all. They’re an extract that’s been super-refined using toxic chemicals, bleach, and marketed as “healthy”. When you look at the chemical refinement process, stevia is no more natural than Aspartame, Splenda, NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet N Low, etc. Everybody is looking for a non-addictive, healthy sweetener. But, beware of any sugar-free sweetener that gives you the illusion of a “free ride”, because you may just be deepening your addiction.
Green leaf stevia is the least processed of the stevia types. The leaves are basically just dried and ground into powder form. This is the type of stevia that’s been used in South America and Japan for centuries as a natural sweetener and health remedy. This type of stevia is about 30–40 times sweeter than sugar.
The best stevia is the kind you can grow yourself. When it’s alive you know it’s REAL! Stevia plants grow beautifully in a pot, a garden, a window box, or on your kitchen window sill. Just pull off a leaf when you need to sweeten something. This way you can be sure it’s organic, and the soil is healthy.