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Monday, June 20, 2011

What is Stevia ?

 

 [According to the description extracted from Wikipedia]

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 garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener 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, stevia is widely used as a sweetener in Japan where it has been available for decades. In some countries, stevia is restricted or banned. In other 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 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.

[According to Mike Adams of  http://www.naturalnews.com]

He says ............

Extracts from the leaf of the Stevia plant have been found to be high in antioxidants that prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer, according to a new Indian study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. "These results indicate that Stevia rebaudiana may be useful as a potential source of natural antioxidants," said lead author Srijani Ghanta, of the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata.

This is good news for stevia, the natural sweetener that has been suppressed for decades by the FDA, but which is now about to go mainstream thanks to interest from Coca-Cola and Cargill.



Stevia rebaudiana is a South American shrub that grows in semi-arid areas of Brazil and Paraguay. The leaves of the plant have been used for generations as a sweetener, originally by the Guarani people and more recently throughout South America and Asia. A campaign of intimidation against stevia companies by the FDA has so far prevented the sweetener from being approved for use in foods in the United States or Europe, but it is currently sold as a supplement and has gained mainstream acceptance as a safe, natural, calorie-free sweetener.

The FDA, of course, suppressed stevia as a way to propel the sales of aspartame, the artificial chemical sweetener that was pushed through FDA approval by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. Aspartame has never been shown to be safe for human consumption in any honest studies.

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[As further elaborated in the webpage of www.stevia-sweetener.com]

The Characteristics of Stevia Sweetener

Stevia is grown today in Paraguay, Brazil, Japan, and China. It has been successfully cultivated as far north as Southern Ontario and as far south as Southern California and Mexico, in North America. It is native to the mountainous regions of Paraguay and Brazil, where it has been used for centuries as a sweetener and for medicinal use. It is a short perennial shrub related to the chrysanthemum family, but from the over 200 species of stevia, only the stevia rebaudiana has leaves that are from 70 to 400 times sweeter than sugar if chewed or added to foods or liquids. Stevioside, a white crystalline powder, extracted from the leaves, is the substance that is used commercially in the production of stevia sweetener. In addition to the glycosides, which include Stevioside, the leaves contain protein, fibers, carbohydrates, phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, rutin, iron, zinc, vitamins C and A.

Is Stevia Sweetener Safe ?

There has never been a single harmful effect reported despite stevia’s constant use Japan and Korea for the last 20+ years. All laboratory studies conducted since 1908 have reported the same findings. There have been no known reports of allergies related to stevia.

The Advantages of Stevia Sweetener

These are just a few of the reasons that stevia as a sweetener is so unique.
  • - It has 0 calories.
  • - It causes no elevation in blood sugar.
  • - It causes no rise in blood pressure.
  • - It is 0 on the glycemic index.
  • - It provides no food for microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria, (thus its use to treat certain skin conditions).
  • - It is non-toxic.
  • - It is diabetic safe without the unpleasant side effects of many other artificial sweeteners - previously used in products intended for diabetics.
  • - It has been found to actually inhibit the formation of cavities and plaque in the mouth.
  • - It has no artificial ingredients.
  • - It can be used in its natural state if desired.
  • - Its sweetening effect is not changed by cooking or heating.

The Disadvantages in Stevia Sweetener

There are no disadvantages to stevia use other than that straight stevia extract can have a faintly bitter licorice after-taste. This problem has been overcome in some products by adding erythritol, an almost non-caloric sugar alcohol that counteracts the flavor. This addition does not have any adverse effects on the benefits of stevia use.

How the Body Processes Stevia Sweetener ?

The human digestive system is unable to retain the sweet glycosides in stevia, therefore is passed through the body without absorbing any calories. The glycosides break down to steviol in the gut, and passes out of the body in the urine.


Uses for Stviea Sweetener

  • - Non-caloric sweetener many times sweeter than sugar that is totally safe for use by diabetics.
  • - To treat obesity via weight reduction programs.
  • - For its medicinal effect in skin lotions and products.
  • - As a microorganism deterrent in skin dressings.
  • - In baking and cooking, since the flavor is not altered by heat.
  • - To sweeten beverages and desserts such as pies, yogurt, ice cream, breads, candy, and sauces.
  • - For treating digestive ailments such as heartburn.
Stevia is a natural sweetener many times sweeter than sugar that is safe for all to use. It has no deleterious effects reported and may utilized by diabetics as an everyday part of their diets. It has no calories, is completely natural, and has no carbohydrates. In addition to its use as a sweetener, it also has numerous medicinal uses. It does not change in flavor when heated and is therefore perfect for cooking. It was used for hundreds of years in the mountains of Paraguay, and over the last hundred years has enjoyed ever widening popularity globally, and should continue this growth for years into the future.

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