Stevia the Alternative Sweetner of Choice!
Wisdom Of The Ancients: Stevia Plus Fiber in the green packets, pictured here, seems to be the best Stevia I have come across. It is great because you can carry the packets in your purse and easily add a half a packet to your coffee or tea….it is very strong so be careful you may not even need that much!
No, I am not affiliated with them, nor do I profit in any way if you pick some up at your local health food store or buy it online. I am just sharing what seems to work. If you have a favorite Stevia brand feel free to let me know in the comments.
The herb Stevia rebaudiana was named in honor of a Spanish botanist in 1556, P.J. Esteve. The plant was first cultivated in Paraguay and has been used as an herbal sweetener for centuries in South America by the Guarani Indians who have long used the herb to make a tea. Stevia leaves and twigs are commonly sold in local markets and pharmacies. Other names are ‘sweet leaf’ and ‘sweet herb’. An extract is also made of the leaves and flowers.
The sweet-tasting component in stevia is stevioside, which is 30 times sweeter than granulated table sugar, though some extracts are concentrated and can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. In Japan, the herb was approved in 1970. Since then, stevia extracts have come to make up 40% of the sweetener market. In 1991, the United States Food and Drug Administration placed an import ban on stevia, declaring that there was inadequate evidence to establish its safe use in food. In truth, the ban was mainly in response to pressure by the sugar industry and other companies making artificial sweeteners who would lose money if stevia were approved in the U.S. as a sweetener. (In 1988, Nutrasweet grossed 736 million dollars.) The ban was reversed late in 1995, although it’s still required to be sold as a nutritional supplement rather than as a sweetener.
A recent study in 1998, by the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, showed no changes in blood glucose levels when stevia was consumed as a sweetener. In addition, there is evidence reported by the Hiroshima University School of Dentistry to show that stevia may help protect against dental caries/cavities, by suppressing dental bacteria growth. Japanese and Latin American scientists have discovered its value as a tonic and diuretic with the ability to combat mental and physical fatigue, to harmonize digestion, regulate blood pressure and assist in weight loss.
Powdered stevia leaf can be made into a simple extract by mixing one teaspoon in a cup of water and allowing it to soak overnight. The liquid extract is much better tasting and easier to use than the powdered form. It only takes a few drops to sweeten a cup of tea. It’s also delicious in yogurt, cereal and baked goods. Stevia’s sweetness is not affected by heat, though it will not caramelize like table sugar.
Nutritional Value Per 100 g Edible Portion: Calories 254, Protein 11.2 g, Fat 1.9 g, Fiber 15.2 g, Calcium 544 mg, Iron 3.9 mg, Magnesium 349 mg, Phosphorus 318 mg, Potassium 1,780 mg, Sodium 89.2 mg, Zinc trace, Manganese 14,700 mg, Beta Carotene 12,440 IU, Thiamine/B1 trace, Riboflavin/B2 trace, Niacin/B3 trace, Ascorbic Acid/C 11 mg.
Source: Bastyr students, edited by Dr. Nicole Sundene
1. Onstad, Dianne. Whole Foods Companion. 1996. Chelsea Green Publishing Co.
2. Omnivite Nutrition. “OmniBalance with Stevia” informational pamphlet.