What is Stevia?


What is Stevia?

Ever wonder what people did before sugar came along? In South America, they’ve been using their native crop of Stevia for centuries. Lately this herb has become even more popular, especially as it’s very environmentally friendly, and it’s now grown in several other areas of the world.

The sweetness comes from the leaves, which can be used whole, but are easier to work with as a sugar replacement in powdered form.¹ In their natural state, Stevia leaves contain important elements that our bodies need, including:2

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B1 and B2
  • Potassium

To make it even more enticing is that pure Stevia has zero calories!3

The most natural and healthy form is green leaf Stevia

In its natural state, Stevia leaves are literally ground up into powder, as they were originally used, and it has a slightly bitter taste as it contains the stevioside glycoside.1,4 It’s around 30 – 40 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need a pinch to get the same level of sweetness.4 Less truly is more!

From natural to processed but better than sugar

In more processed versions, like Stevia extracts and altered Stevia, the stevioside has been taken out to reduce bitterness, which makes the processed Stevia even sweeter than green leaf.4

Note: Because Stevia is a herb, a very small percentage of people have a reaction to it, and it may also affect other medication, for example for blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol.3 So, if you are taking any prescribed medicines, it’s best to check with your doctor before adding Stevia to your diet.²

References:

  1. Regev Elya. What Is Stevia? Side Effects, Safety, Dangers and Health Benefits as a Natural Sweetener. [Online]. 2016 Dec 14 [cited 2017 Feb 07]. Available from: http://regevelya.com/stevia-sweetener/
  2. Stevia Point. Stevia Nutrition Facts [Online] 2017 [Cited 2003 Feb 7]. Available from: http://steviapoint.com/what-is-stevia/stevia-nutrition-facts/
  3. Cox L. Life Science Health. What Is Stevia? [Online]. 2013 Sept 12 [cited 2017 Feb 07]. Available from: http://www.livescience.com/39601-stevia-facts-safety.html
  4. Axe J. Food is medicine. Stevia Side Effects: Good or Bad? [Online] 2017 [Cited 2003 Feb 7]. Available from: https://draxe.com/stevia-side-effects/
  5. Flyingbikie via Pixabay [Online]. 2017 [cited 2017 Feb 07]. Available from: https://pixabay.com/en/stevia-leaf-sugar-plant-sweetness-74187/

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