Stevia leaf, botanically called Stevia rebaudiana, is a low-calorie sweetener that has antioxidant and antidiabetic properties. It’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Stevia leaf is a non-carbohydrate Ancient sweetener; it is a small leafy herb of South American origin. Stevia was discovered about 1500 years ago by the people Guarani of Paraguay.
It is commonly called honey leaf plant, sweet leaf, sugar leaf in different countries across the globe. Sweetleaf organic stevia plant has been discovered to be of huge health benefits aside from its sweetening property. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar when refined; it has displaced cane sugar in several parts of the world, especially in East Asian regions and South American countries with China being the highest exporter of stevia products.
Health benefits of Stevia leaf
Aside from having a good sweetening ability, it also contributes greatly to the fortification of human health. These are parts of the reasons you should use stevia instead of cane sugar.
- The truth about stevia is that it is 300 times sweeter than cane sugar with no detrimental effects on human health.
- Stevia leaves extract is non-carbohydrate, thus, reduces the risk of diabetes.
- Stevia plant has many sterols and natural antioxidant compounds like flavonoids, tannin, etc.; which helps to lower blood pressure and control diabetes.
- Stevia plant contains chlorogenic acid; this reduces the enzymatic conversion of glycogen to glucose in addition to decreasing absorption of glucose in the gut. These actions help to reduce blood sugar levels.
- Compounds in stevia extracts have been found to increase sodium excretion, thus, increases urine output, dilate the blood vessels and also lower blood pressure.
- By the virtue of its lack of carbohydrate, organic stevia leaf extract inhibits the growth of bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans in the mouth, which often causes tooth decay and damage.
- Stevia rebaudiana leaf extract contains vital minerals and vitamins absent in other sweeteners like cane sugar.
The use of stevia plant as a natural sweetener has been endorsed by the World Health Organization as safe and beneficial to humans in 2006. An official statement was released to affirm this verdict: “stevioside and rebaudioside A are not genotoxic in vitro or in vivo and that the genotoxicity of steviol and some of its oxidative derivatives in vitro is not expressed in vivo”.
On December 3, 2018, PureCircle, is the world’s leading producer and innovator of stevia sweeteners disclosed that it has discovered high content of proteins, soluble fibers and antioxidants in the stevia plant and plans to begin the commercial production and sale of these new stevia ingredients in the second half of 2019.
Stevia is a naturally sourced, zero-calorie sweetener that can be grown in both temperate and tropical region but well adaptive to the temperate region. It is a small plant that grows up to 2-4 feet. The stevia plant is a good alternative to sugar as it is calorie free; it can be dried or crushed to replace cane sugar in foodstuffs like tea, sweets, sauce, confectionary, and soft drinks. It can be added to jam, yogurt, ice creams, desserts, chewing gum, sweeten bitter medicines.
The sweetening effect in stevia leaf is produced by steviol glycosides, mainly stevioside and rabaudioside; these compounds are 300 times sweeter than sugar. They are heat stable, pH stable and not fermentable, thus, making it have a longer shelf life. In all ramifications, stevia leaf is better and should be used as a sweetener instead of cane sugar.
Processing and preparation of stevia leaf
Stevia leaves can be consumed fresh and raw by adding the leaves directly in drinks as a sweetener. Though, it is formally processed to ground stevia leaves by drying the leaves or stevia leaves extract. stevia leaves in tea and other beverages is normally used in small proportion as it is over 300 times sweeter than cane sugar.
Recommendation and conclusion:
People often ask; is stevia leaf extract safe during pregnancy? Yes, it is. Stevia leaves have been recommended for pregnant women and diabetes patient as it contains no calorie and it is non-carbohydrate. It is safe to use and has numerous health benefits.
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