Stevia plant is a small, sweet-leaf herb of South American origin used by native Guarani tribes of Paraguay for centuries without any adverse effects; a fact which has been endorsed recently by World Health Organization.
Recent scientific trials firmly establish that this sweet-leaf herb has, in fact, many health benefiting plant-derived phyto-chemical compounds that help control blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure in addition to its use as natural sweetener. Together with the rise in demand for low-calorie food alternatives, stevia has drawn the attention of health conscious fitness lovers all over the planet.
Slender, branched stems with deep-green serrated leaves
Nutrient Value & Health Benefits:
Stevia herb parts are very low in calories. Parts by parts its dry leaves are roughly 40 times sweeter than sugar. The sweetness of sugar in stevia is due to several glycoside compounds including stevioside, steviolbioside, rebaudiosides A-E, and dulcoside.
- Steviosideis non-carbohydrate glycoside compound. Hence, it lack of properties that sucrose and other carbohydrates have. Stevia extracts, like rebaudioside-A, are found to be 300 times sweeter than sugar. In contrast to sugar, however, stevia extracts have several unique properties such as long shelf life, high temperature tolerance, non-fermentative; but contain near-zero calories.
- In addition, stevia plant has many sterols and antioxidant compounds like triterpenes, flavonoids, andtannins. Some of flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidant phyto-chemicals present in stevia is kaempferol, quercetin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, isoquercitrin, isosteviol…etc. Studies found that kaempferol can reduce risk of pancreatic cancer by 23% (American journal of epidemiology) .
- Chlorgenic acid reduces enzymatic conversion of glycogen to glucose in addition to decreasing absorption of glucose in the gut. Thus, it helps reduce blood sugar levels. The lab studies also confirm a reduction in blood glucose levels and an increase in the liver concentrations of glucose-6-phosphate and of glycogen.
- Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion, and urine output. In effect, stevia, at slightly higher doses than as sweetener, can help lower blood pressure.
- Being a non-carbohydrate sweetener, stevia would not favor the growth of Streptococcus mutans bacteria in the mouth which is attributed to be a causative agent for dental caries and tooth cavities. On the other hand, certain compounds in stevia are rather found to inhibit caries causing bacteria in the mouth.
- In addition, being a herb, stevia contain many vitals minerals, vitamins that are selectively absent in the artificial sweeteners.
Stevia plant uses in traditional medicine
- Stevia extract has been in use by native South Americans (where it is known as caa-he-éé or kaa jheéé) to reduce weight; to treat wound infections, inflammatory conditions, swelling in the legs and as a tonic to treat depression.
Tips For Use:
Farm fresh stevia plant leaves can be used directly in drinks as sweetener.
You can easily dry it then make a powder to use in cooking. Find the easy instructions here on our website by searching ‘Stevia’.
Remember to use dried stevia sugar in small proportions, as it is nearly 30 times sweeter than cane sugar. Roughly, one teaspoonful of dried leaves powder is equivalent to one cup of sugar; therefore, use it in small quantities adjusting the amount to achieve your desired levels of sweetness.
You can also make stevia syrup by adding a cup of hot water to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely crushed leaves. This mixture is allowed to settle down for 24 hours, filtered, and then refrigerated. You may also want to buy stevia sugar rebaudioside-A which is a white, crystalline powder, approximately 300 times sweeter than cane sugar.
Here are some serving tips:
- In Japan and in many East Asian regions, stevia plant parts are being used to sweeten tea, sweets, sauce, confectionary, and soft drinks.
- Stevia extracts are further refined for use as table sugar. It can then be added in jam, yoghurt, ice creams, smoothies, deserts, chewing gum, and sorbets and also to sweeten bitter medicines.