Stevia has made a dynamic entrance into our lives in the past 10 years. Some people call it the queen of all sweeteners. The origin of this plant is in Latin America, but its reputation is now global. The natives of South America used it for centuries as a natural sweetener. Also, as a remedy for various conditions.
The Paraguayan Guarani tribe was the first to use the sweet leaves in their medicinal herbal potions. In the 19th century, a Swiss botanist named Moisés Santiago Bertoni who worked in Paraguay described and observed the plant for its unique sweet taste. The leaves of this plant are 60 to 80 times sweeter than sugar. The natives eat it raw or use it in herbal teas, various foods and of course sweet treats.
Why is it so much superior
What makes Stevia superior to any other sweetener is quite simple. The unique substances from the leaves, in particular, the raw plant contains natural sweeteners, such as stevioside and rebaudioside A.
For comparison, 1 gram of sugar contains 4 calories. On the other side, Stevia does not contain any calories. The stevia leaves contain, among other things, minerals and trace elements. Let’s just mention chromium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc, B vitamins. Also, it contains phytonutrients such as chlorophyll and plant sterols.
Word of experts
Experts recommend it as the best sweetener. Also, it is highly recommended for diabetics and people who want to regulate their weight. There are other sweeteners that do not affect blood glucose like Erythritol and Sucralose but they are not natural sweeteners. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, while sucralose is an artificial sweetener. The worst of all artificial sweetener is Aspartame. I always recommend Stevia extract in powder for coffee, tea or for cooking.
In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted an evaluation of the studies so far and concluded that stevioside and rebaudioside A did not have any genotoxic or carcinogenic effect on humans.
After many discussions and research, there are also positive aspects of using Stevia. Let’s see some of them:
- Blood glucose regulator (sweet ingredients are glycosides, not carbohydrates)
- Treatment of obesity
- Reduces nausea
- Relieves the heartburn
- Stimulates digestion
- Helps lower blood pressure
- Accelerates wound healing and relieves scars
- The potential positive effect on osteoporosis
How to choose the right Stevia product?
As with all the products on the shelves, you need to be careful. Personally, I saw a ton of products with the name Stevia on them. They contained only 1% of Stevia extract. Always read the labels and see the ratio of ingredients. This should be your habit when buying almost anything. Especially if you are introduced to this product for the first time. Evaluation is critical at this stage. Remember, these products are supposed to aid our healthy diet, not make it less healthy. We don’t want to fuel ourselves with trash. Search for reviews and never fear to give some extra money for a quality product. My favourite Stevia product is made by Now Foods called Better Stevia which is organically certified in powder form. You can discover your favourite brand but always search for the ones that have at least 90% Stevia extract. Of course, if you can find pure leaves, even in powdered form, this would be the most natural approach to sweetening your treats.