Stevia Sweetner

Stevia extract is one of the low glycemic sweeteners and comes from the leaves of a plant. This plant was initially grown in South America and contains natural sweeteners known as stevioside and rebaudioside. It is called sweet leaf (sweetleaf) or sugar leaf because the extract of this leaf is over 300 times sweeter than sugar. The extracts that give it its sweet taste are stevioside and rebaudioside. In 1995, the FDA approved this natural sweetener for use as a dietary supplement, but not as a food additive.

Benefits of Stevia


  • Sweetleaf is natural plant product with no artificial ingredients.
  • Replaces sugar as a sweetener without the calories of sugar. This makes it a very good sweetener for diabetics, obese people and all those who desire reduced calories without compromising the sweetness of foods.
  • Over 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need very little amount.
  • It is not easily destroyed by heat, so it can be used in cooking, unlike saccharine and aspartame. Cooking with stevia is one of its major advantages, like baking cakes and cookies, but it is difficult to make hard candies, because unlike sugar, it does not caramelize. Sweet leaf candy can be in the form of chocolates and others that do not need the of sugar to make.
  • Stevia recipes are just almost any other recipe that calls for sugar. Just replace sugar with this sugar substitute, except that you will have to reduce the quantity of this sweetener.
  •  It will not increase blood sugar, so it is safe for diabetics. A review by Goyal SK, et al suggests that it may be beneficial for health maintenance in diabetes. Some studies found that it may increase insulin production and the sensitivity of the body to insulin.
  •  When used before meal, it may decrease the post-prandial blood glucose
  • It is safe for children
  • Unlike sugar, sugar leaf protects the teeth from plaque and tooth decay.
  • Sweet leaf has not been found to be toxic to humans for many generations.
  • Some studies suggest that this sweetener may have antifungal and antimicrobial properties. That is it can be effective in combating germs and yeast infections.
  • Sweet leaf can be used to treat obesity because it is sweet without adding any significant calories to the food.
  • It may be useful for treatment of high blood pressure.
  • It has been used to treat heart burn.
  • It can also be used to lower uric acid level, which will make it beneficial in the treatment of gout.
  • It has been found to act as a cardiac stimulant, this may or may not be beneficial depending on the outcome you want.
  • It may also treat cancer, inflammation and diarrhea and may act as a diuretic.

 

Rebaudioside A  is the extract that the FDA has approved for use in the USA .

Are There Dangers Stevia Use?

There does not seem to be any major dangers. The Guarani Indians have been using it centuries before Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas, without any health problems known to result from it. 

 It has not been shown to be toxic, but a few studies suggest possible contraceptive effect. Though the contraceptive side effects have not been proved, people seeking to get pregnant should consider this possibility before using this product. Also, this should never be used for contraception as this property has not been proved.

In 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) found no adverse effects of sweetleaf.

Up to 40% of food sweeteners in Japan come from sugar leaf.

 Only a small percentage of the seeds germinate, so growing the plant is mainly done by cloning.

Stevia side effects


  • When used in baking, it does not ferment and does not feed the yeast. As such the bread does not rise as well as that baked with sugar.
  • Sweetleaf is said to be a cardiac stimulant, but that could be a problem from the consumption of many times the consumption of reasonable daily amount.
  • It is possible to act as a diuretic. While this could help in the reduction of blood pressure, it could contribute to dehydration. It is important for people using this product to maintain a good daily fluid intake.
  • The FDA has not approved the use of whole leaf stevia because of possible effects on the heart, kidneys and reproductive systems.

The amount of This natural sweetener needed for human purposes is very small and may not be enough to cause any side effects.

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