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Stevia first natural sugar substitute

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July 5, 2013 in Health

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The plant extract called stevia is 300 times  sweeter than sugar

  • Natural sweetener has been used in South America for thousands of years
  • Food industry adopting sugar substitute in  attempt to tackle obesity
Action: Some in the food industry believe stevia powder, which is 300 time sweeter than sugar but has no calories, could help tackle obesity
stevia powder,  which is 300 time sweeter than sugar but has no calories, could help tackle  obesity

It sounds too good to be true – all the  sweetness of sugar but with none of the calories.

 

The final product is a white powder (similar to powdered sugar).

Stevia  is a genus of about 240 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America.

The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves.

As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has attracted attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar sweeteners. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose it is attractive to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

The availability of stevia varies from country to country. In a few countries, it has been available as a sweetener for decades or centuries; for example, it has been widely used for decades as a sweetener in Japan. In some countries health concerns and political controversies have limited its availability; for example, the United States banned stevia in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement, but in 2008 it approved rebaudioside A extract as a food additive. Over the years, the number of countries in which stevia is available as a sweetener has been increasing. In 2011 stevia was approved for use in the EU

But an extract from a plant found growing  wild in South America is being trumpeted as a major weapon in tackling the obesity crisis threatening the health of millions  of people around the world.

File:Stevia rebaudiana foliage.jpg

 

 

Dr Margaret Ashwell, a member of the  Scientific Advisory Board of the Global Stevia Institute, an information service provided by the main suppliers of stevia, believes the health benefits  cannot be understated.

‘Stevia can help people enjoy natural-origin  sweetness while reducing calories  as part of a healthful, balanced diet,’ she  told the Independent.

She added: ‘There are enormous opportunities  for industry to meet national  and international pledges to reduce sugar in  products to help the  obesity crisis.’

Used for thousands of years in South  America  cooking, it was added to food as a sweetener as well as a health tonic and  treatment for high blood pressure, heartburn, gout and type 2 diabetes.

The plant, used for centuries by  Paraguay’s Guarani Indians, it has shot from relative obscurity to being used as  a key sweetener by large companies  such as Coca-Cola and Danone in just a few  years.

Sales of the extract have soared in recent  years – up 400 per cent between 2008 and 2012.

In 2011 it was approved by the European Food  Safety Agency for widespread introduction.

Miracle plant: An extract from the leaves of a stevia bush are 300 times sweeter than sugar
An extract from the leaves of a stevia  bush are 300 times sweeter than sugar – but with none of the caloriesSome critics have questioned if a calorie  free supplement can possibly help in longterm fat loss diets.

Dr Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance: The  Bitter Truth About Sugar, said that weight-loss diets might  not be achieved  because the body expects real sugar, the Independent  reported.

But this doubt over the effects of  stevia  has not stopped some food manufactures introducing the additive  to some of  their most popular ranges.

In March, this year, fizzy drink  Sprite  ditched its ‘full-fat’ recipe in favour of a lower-calorie  version that uses  the ‘natural’ sweetener.

The new formulation of the popular  beverage  contains 30 per cent fewer calories – but fans fear it  will have an unusual  aftertaste.

The drink is being altered as part of the  parent company Coca-Cola’s  anti-obesity drive and follows a call by the  government to address the  issue.

Guilt-free: Stevia, pictured being cultivated for use in the food industry, is being described as an ingredient which could help tackle obesity by cutting the calories in junk food and fizzy drinks
 Stevia, pictured being cultivated for use in  the food industry, is being described as an ingredient which could help tackle  obesity by cutting the calories in junk food and fizzy drinks

A Coca-Cola spokesman said: ‘We are  introducing Sprite with Stevia in the UK.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF  STEVIA

Research into stevia’s alleged health  benefits have been mixed and many believe the plant could in fact pose health  risks.

Some research has found that the plant  lowered blood pressure.

There has also been research into its effects  on diabetes.

The most obvious benefit of stevia is that it  provides sweetness but does not elevate blood glucose levels as white sugar  does.

But in addition to this, early research has  shown that it can actively lower blood sugars.

Scientists found that taking 1000 mg daily of  stevioside reduced blood sugar levels after meals by up to 18 per cent in people  with type 2 diabetes. 

Other alleged benefits of stevia were  analysed in a 2009 review of recent stevia research.

Experts at  Mahidol University in  Thailand found that a number of studies did show stevia to have blood  pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour, anti-diarrheal, diuretic, and  immunomodulatory actions.

This will contain 30 per cent fewer calories  and, instead of being added as a mid-calorie addition to the Sprite range, it  will completely replace the current Sprite,’ it read.

‘Stevia, a sweetener from natural origins, is  sweeter than sugar but without the calories.

‘It is an extract from the leaf of the stevia  plant which is native to Paraguay. Stevia has been used for centuries as a  source of intense, natural sweetness.’

The increasing introduction of the  calourie-free natural sweetener comes amid mounting concern about the health  effects of the soft drinks enjoyed by millions of Britons every day.

Heart attacks, diabetes, weight gain, brittle  bones, pancreatic and prostate cancer, muscle weakness and paralysis have all  been flagged up as potential problems of drinking soft drinks.

Earlier this year, a study warned that just  one can of a sugary soft drink a day can raise the risk of diabetes by up to a  fifth. 

A can of Coke contains around eight teaspoons  of sugar and 139 calories. This is around 7 per cent of the 2,000 calories a  woman is recommended per day. Two cans would use up more than a tenth of a man’s  2,500 daily calorie allowance.

Harvard University’s respected School of  Public Health warns that sugary drinks ‘are a major contributor to the obesity  epidemic’.

Research it cites to back this up includes a  20-year study of 120,000 men and women which found those that drank an extra  soft drink a day gained, on average, a pound a year more than those that did not  up their intake. Over seven years, it would add up to half a stone.

more: Stevia-First-natural-sugar-substitute-help-fight-obesity-diabetes  / Stevia

Homemade Stevia Extract

natural tincture remedy recipe Homemade Stevia Extract

Liquid stevia extract is a relatively easy tincture to make at home, and it is a much cheaper alternative to the store bought versions. If you grow your own stevia, you can preserve the leaves while still fresh to make the most potent extract. This is my basic stevia recipe, and it is suitable for kids and pregnant women as the alcohol cooks out.

you can  get dried stevia leaf from Mountain Rose Herbs, or you can preserve your own.

natural tincture remedy recipe Homemade Stevia Extract

Ingredients
  • 1- Quart or pint glass jar with lid (both boiled to sterilize)
  • fresh or dried stevia leaf
  • enough vodka, rum or everclear to fill the jar (at least half of the total size of the jar)
  • a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
  • small sauce pan

 

Instructions
  1. Put the fresh or dried stevia leaf in the jar, filling it ⅔ full.
  2. Pour vodka/rum/everclear over the leaves to fill the jar and put the lid on tightly.
  3. Put in a place where you will see it and leave for 36 hours, shaking occasionally. (I put on the counter and shake every time I’m cooking) Leaving it for longer than this seems to make it bitter.
  4. Strain the liquid into the small sauce pan (it will be greenish-brown)
  5. Turn heat on low and bring to a simmer. Important: do not boil! It will ruin the taste!!!
  6. Simmer for about ½ an hour, stirring constantly and making sure not to boil. It will thicken. When it gets to your desired thickness, remove from heat.
  7. Store in small jar in the fridge for up to 3 months.

This can be used in baking recipes like Crock Pot Cheesecake or Pumpkin Cheesecake. It is also great in coffee, tea, chai lattes or pumpkin lattes

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2 responses to Stevia first natural sugar substitute

  1. You can easily make stevia extract for use in your own kitchen. if you haven’t yet tried stevia though, beware. If you have allergies to ragweed you might get a reaction. (When I tried it my gums and lips swelled.)

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