Here you will find out all the details about a sweetener called stevia: what it is, what benefits and possible harm to health from its use, how it is used in cooking and much more. It has been used as a sweetener and as a medicinal herb in various cultures around the world for centuries, but in recent decades it has gained particular popularity as a sugar substitute for diabetics and for losing weight. Stevia was further studied, studies were conducted in order to identify its medicinal properties and contraindications for use.
What is stevia?
Stevia is a grass of South American origin, the leaves of which, due to their strong sweetness, are used to produce a natural sweetener in powder or liquid form.
Stevia leaves are about 10-15 times, and leaf extract is 200-350 times sweeter than regular sugar. Stevia has almost zero calorie content and does not contain carbohydrates. This has made it a popular sweetener option for many foods and drinks for those who want to lose weight or are on a low-carb diet.
Origin and distribution
The ancient Indians were the first to learn about the benefits of stevia. They found that stalk powder or shredded leaves have a sweet taste and help patients recover faster after suffering a serious illness.
After the Indians, the aborigines who lived in South America learned about the benefits of the grass. Later, the plant began to spread to other territories, they learned about it in Japan, Israel, Korea, China, Brazil. However, South America is considered the birthplace of stevia.
The plant belongs to the genus Asteraceae, is a perennial. Its appearance resembles a bush with straight stems and leaves, which reaches a height of 60−80 cm. It is quite unremarkable, grows in countries with tropical and subtropical climates.
Stevia needs a lot of sunlight for comfortable growth, enough moisture, and loose soil saturated with oxygen.
Every year, bushes of grass die out and after a while grow again. During flowering, the top of the plant is covered with small white flowers that resemble small bells with five petals in shape.
The roots of stevia are quite long, reach 40 cm, not meandering, have a large shaft and smaller branches. The fruits of the plant are presented in the form of boxes that appear on the stems, inside there are seeds, their length does not exceed 2 mm.
Today, grass can be found in Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Korea, China, Malaysia. In Russia and the CIS countries, stevia does not grow. Despite this, products based on it can be bought at some pharmacies and even supermarkets.
The composition and procurement of raw materials
The benefits of stevia to the human body are due to its rich and unique chemical composition. The main components will be the following:
- Valuable essential oils
- glycosides, for example, stevioside, which provides a sweet taste (the leaves of stevia are several times sweeter than sugar, and directly stevioside - 120 times),
- flavonoids, which are natural and safe antioxidants,
- organic acids
- fatty acids (linolenic and linoleic),
- valuable vitamins: tocopherol, retinol, riboflavin, thiamine, carotene, ascorbic acid,
- minerals, including calcium, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copper, silicon, phosphorus,
Due to the unique chemical composition, the grass has extremely positive properties, allows you to treat many diseases, but only with proper use.
The collection of healing raw materials begins before flowering, when buds form on the bushes, but do not open. For therapeutic purposes, mainly plant leaves are used. It is during this period that the largest number of glycosides is concentrated in them.
You should collect the leaves, spread them out in a thin layer and dry them in a natural way, excluding the ingress of moisture or direct sunlight. For quick and high-quality drying, the room should be well ventilated.
After complete drying, the raw materials must be collected in paper bags, glass jars and stored in a dry, cool place. If moisture and sunlight will not get into the storage area, the leaves will not lose their healing qualities for 2 years.
For many years, scientists have studied the composition and properties of the plant, its effect on the body, since many of its qualities were in doubt.
The first was the question of the effect on patients with diabetes. Stevia is a natural sweetener, and also has almost zero calorie content, so its need for diabetics is not disputed.
In 2005, the first results of studies confirming the safety of herbs for patients with diabetes were published. In 2010, the findings of another group of scientists became known. Experts studied not only the effect of stevia on diabetics, but also the effect on a healthy person.
As a result of the experiments, it was found out that people with normal blood sugar levels also tolerate herbs based on medicinal herbs, and their condition even improves.
Separately, experiments were conducted with the participation of patients suffering from varying degrees of arterial hypertension. The results became known in 2003. In all those who took part, blood pressure decreased, as well as an improvement in well-being, a decrease in the need for large doses of antihypertensive drugs. Some patients on an ongoing basis began to take funds with stevia, which significantly improved the condition of the cardiovascular system.
The chemical composition of the leaves of the plant has a beneficial effect on the work of the internal organs and systems of the person, especially with the correct course application.
The main useful properties will be the following:
- strengthens the vascular wall, has a relaxing effect on blood vessels,
- lowers blood pressure and heart rate,
- stimulates cell renewal and regeneration, normalizes metabolic processes in them, which prevents premature aging,
- It has a tonic effect on the body, improves the general condition, adds an amount of energy,
- helps to remove harmful cholesterol from the body, leading to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques,
- stimulates the release of the intestines from toxins and toxins,
- reduces the level of glucose in the blood due to the rapid processing of sugar, which enters the body with food,
- promotes the rapid formation of cell membranes,
- normalizes metabolic processes, helps to reduce body weight,
- positively affects the state of the visual apparatus, prevents a decrease in visual acuity,
- envelops the intestinal wall, allows you to maintain a healthy microflora,
- strengthens the immune system, prevents frequent colds and viral pathologies,
- promotes the release of the body from parasites.
In addition, stevia-based drugs have anti-inflammatory and bactericidal effects.
Indications for use
Certified doctors do not deny the positive effect of funds based on a unique plant on the functioning of internal organs and systems.
This allows them to be used in the diagnosis of the following diseases:
- pathologies of the cardiovascular system: atrial fibrillation, tachycardia, angina pectoris, coronary heart disease in remission, primary and severe hypertension, atherosclerotic changes affecting the coronary vessels,
- endocrine disorders: thyroid disease, diabetes mellitus, metabolic disorders, provoking an increase in body weight, up to obesity,
- infection of the gastrointestinal tract with parasites, indigestion, decreased absorption of nutrients in the small intestine,
- chronic colitis and enteritis with regular relapses,
- violation of the intestinal microflora after prolonged use of antibacterial agents or undergoing chemotherapy,
- frequent constipation or loose stools, causing dehydration,
- the development of dermatitis or eczema, the chronic course of dermatological diseases,
- weakened immunity, frequent respiratory diseases,
- vitamin deficiency caused by an unbalanced diet.
Stevia can be used by patients who experience intense emotional and physical stress, are tired at work. Grass with regular use makes a person strong and energetic.
For patients with insomnia, the plant will also be useful, since it helps to normalize the psycho-emotional state. According to studies, stevia helps reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 23%. This allows its use to patients with chronic pancreatitis to prevent the progression of a pathological condition.
Contraindications and harm
Despite the benefits of the plant for human health, it is not always permitted to be used. Pregnant and lactating women are not recommended to use the grass for therapeutic and prophylactic purposes. It can affect the development of the fetus and the quality of breast milk.
Stevia's ability to lower blood pressure makes it impossible to use in the treatment of patients who suffer from persistent hypotension. A critical decrease in indicators leads to a significant deterioration in the patient's condition.
Patients with a tendency to allergic manifestations should also not use stevia for treatment. A contraindication is the period of recovery of the patient after heavy operations on internal organs.
When using a large amount of plant-based products, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, a sharp decrease in blood pressure numbers, dizziness, headache, and drowsiness are possible.
An allergy to grass is manifested in the form of a rash on the skin, itching, peeling, irritation, redness. Usually the symptoms disappear after stopping the use of funds. If symptoms worsen, consult a doctor immediately.
The best recipes
The pharmacy sells dry grass, powder, and stevia tablets. However, the most effective are infusions, decoctions and teas, prepared independently from raw materials. Popular recipes for home use are the following:
- Infusion can be prepared from 20 g of dry grass and a glass of boiling water. It is necessary to insist a day. After this, the infusion should be filtered, and the remaining thicker pour 125 ml of boiling water. After 8 hours, strain the resulting infusion to the first serving. You can take the medicine for a tablespoon per day or add to tea. The duration of the course depends on the condition of the patient and the degree of neglect of the pathology.
- To learn syrup, an infusion prepared according to the previous recipe is used. It is necessary to pour the liquid into a saucepan and steam over low heat until a thick syrup is obtained. You can check the readiness if you put the syrup on a plate, the liquid should not spill. Syrup is most often used by diabetics, instead of sugar, it helps to control blood glucose levels. You should monitor the dosage of the drug, do not exceed the daily norm of 20 ml.
- A decoction can be prepared from 2 tablespoons of dry grass and half a liter of boiling water. Cook for at least 20 minutes, leave for 1 hour for insisting, filter. The finished medicine is used for the treatment and prevention of vascular disease, digestive tract, heart. The daily norm is 2 tablespoons.
- Alcohol extract is obtained by heating herbs in combination with alcohol or vodka. 20 g of raw materials will need a glass of liquid. After this, the mixture should be kept on low heat for 20-30 minutes, cool, filter. The resulting product is added to tea 10 drops twice a day. Patients with gastric ulcer should not use a prescription.
In addition, stevia can be used to make tea. To prepare one serving, you will need 5 g of dry raw materials and a glass of boiling water. Tea must be infused for about 20 minutes. The finished product is filtered and consumed, replacing it with ordinary tea.
Before using any of the products at home, consult a specialist and exclude the possibility of developing an allergic reaction to the plant. When used correctly in moderation, adverse reactions rarely develop and quickly disappear after discontinuation of the drug.
Stevia is a small perennial grass belonging to the Asteraceae family and the genus Stevia. Its scientific name is Stevia rebaudiana.
Some other names for stevia are honey grass, sweet biennial.
There are 150 species of this plant, all of them native to North and South America.
Stevia grows 60-120 cm in height, it has thin, branched stems. It grows well in temperate climates and in parts of tropical regions. Stevia is grown commercially in Japan, China, Thailand, Paraguay and Brazil. Today, China is a leading exporter of these products.
Almost all parts of the plant are sweet, but most of all sweets are concentrated in dark green jagged leaves.
How to get it
Stevia plants usually begin their life in a greenhouse. When they reach 8-10 cm, they are planted in the field.
When small white flowers appear, stevia is ready for harvesting.
After harvesting, the leaves are dried. The sweetness is extracted from the leaves by a process that involves soaking them in water, filtering and cleaning, as well as drying, resulting in a crystallized extract of stevia leaves.
Sweet compounds — stevioside and rebaudioside — are isolated and extracted from stevia leaves and are further processed into powder, capsule or liquid form.
What a smell and taste
Raw uncooked stevia is often bitter and unpleasant. After processing, bleaching or bleaching, it acquires a soft, licorice flavor.
Many of those who have tried the Stevia sweetener cannot but agree that it has a bitter aftertaste. Some even believe that bitterness intensifies when stevia is added to hot drinks. Getting used to it is a little difficult, but possible.
Depending on the manufacturer and the form of stevia, this taste may be less pronounced or even absent.
How to choose and where to buy
Stevia-based sugar substitutes are sold in several forms:
The price of stevia varies greatly depending on the type and brand.
When buying stevia, read the composition on the package and make sure that it is a 100 percent product. Many manufacturers supplement it with artificial sweeteners based on chemicals that can significantly reduce the benefits of stevia. Brands that contain dextrose (glucose) or maltodextrin (starch) should be treated with caution.
Some of the products designated as “Stevia” are not in fact pure extracts and may contain only a small percentage of it. Always study labels if you care about health benefits and want to buy quality products.
Stevia extract in the form of powder and liquid is 200 times sweeter than sugar than its whole or dried crushed leaves, which are sweeter somewhere around 10-40 times.
Liquid stevia may contain alcohol, and are often available with vanilla or hazelnut flavors.
Some powdered stevia products contain inulin, a natural plant fiber.
A good option for stevia can be bought at a pharmacy, health store, or this online store.
How and how much is stored
The shelf life of Stevia-based sweeteners usually depends on the form of the product: powder, tablets or liquid.
Each brand of stevia sweetener independently determines the recommended shelf life of their products, which can be up to three years from the date of manufacture. Check the label for more details.
The stevia herb is very low in calories, contains less than five grams of carbohydrates and it is believed that it is almost 0 Kcal. Moreover, its dry leaves are about 40 times sweeter than sugar. This sweetness is associated with the content of several glycosidic compounds:
- rebaudiosides A and E,
Basically, two compounds are responsible for the sweet taste:
- Rebaudioside A - it is it that is most often extracted and used in powders and sweeteners of stevia, but usually this is not the only ingredient. Most of the stevia sweeteners on sale contain additives: erythritol from corn, dextrose, or other artificial sweeteners.
- Stevioside is about 10% sweet in stevia, but gives it an unusual bitter aftertaste that many people don't like. It also has most of the beneficial properties of stevia, which are attributed to it and are best studied.
Stevioside is a non-carbohydrate glycoside compound. Therefore, it does not possess such properties as sucrose and other carbohydrates. Stevia extract, like rebaudioside A, turned out to be 300 times sweeter than sugar. In addition, it has several unique properties, such as a long shelf life, high temperature resistance.
The stevia plant contains many sterols and antioxidant compounds such as triterpenes, flavonoids and tannins.
Here are some of the flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidant phytochemicals present in stevia:
- chlorogenic acid
- caffeic acid
Stevia contains many vital minerals, vitamins, which are usually absent in artificial sweeteners.
Studies have shown that campferol in stevia can reduce the risk of developing pancreatic cancer by 23% (American Journal of Epidemiology).
Chlorogenic acid reduces the enzymatic conversion of glycogen to glucose in addition to reducing intestinal glucose uptake. Thus, it helps lower blood sugar. Laboratory studies also confirm a decrease in blood glucose and an increase in the concentration of glucose-6-phosphate in the liver and glycogen.
It was found that some glycosides in the stevia extract dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion and urine output. In fact, stevia, at slightly higher doses than as a sweetener, can lower blood pressure.
Being a non-carbohydrate sweetener, stevia did not contribute to the growth of Streptococcus mutans bacteria in the mouth, which are attributed to caries.
Stevia as a sweetener - benefits and harms
What makes stevia so popular with people with type 2 diabetes is that it sweetens food without raising your blood glucose. This sugar substitute has virtually no calories and carbohydrates, so not only diabetics, but also healthy people are not averse to introducing it into their daily diet.
So, as already mentioned, the scientific name for Stevia is Stevia rebaudiana in honor of the 16th century scientist Stevus, who first described and studied this plant while working at the University of Valencia. Also often this plant is called honey stevia or honey grass due to the high content of sweet substances - glycosides.
The birthplace of honey grass is South and Central America, where it grows on vast territories of plains and mountainous regions. Currently, stevia is cultivated in South America (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay), Mexico, USA, Israel, as well as in Southeast Asia (Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia).
Stevia itself is a perennial herbaceous plant from 60 cm to 1 m high. In the first year of life, stevia usually grows upward, and from the second year it gives numerous side shoots that give the plant a characteristic appearance of a small green shrub. The shoots of the first year are tender, with abundant fringe, and all the older stems become stiff. Leaves are lanceolate, without petiole, attached to the stem in pairs and slightly pubescent. Leaves have 12 to 16 teeth, grow in length up to 5 - 7 cm and in width up to 1.5 - 2 cm.
It is stevia leaves that are currently used for the manufacture of sweeteners and in recipes of traditional medicine. That is, the plant is grown for the collection of leaves. From one stevia bush, 400 to 1200 leaves per year are harvested. The fresh stevia leaves taste very sweet with a light, pleasant bitterness.
In the natural habitat, stevia blooms almost continuously, but the largest number of flowers on the plant occurs during the period of active growth. The flowers are small, on average 3 mm long, collected in small baskets. Stevia also gives very small seeds, similar to dust. Unfortunately, seed germination is very low, so for cultivation a plant is best propagated by cuttings.
Is it possible for stevia in diabetes and healthy people
Stevia can be used by diabetics as an alternative to sugar. It is better than any other substitute, as it is obtained from a natural extract of a plant and does not contain any carcinogenic or any other unhealthy substances. However, endocrinologists recommend that their patients try to reduce their intake of sweeteners or avoid them altogether.
For healthy people, stevia is not required, since the body itself is able to limit sugar and produce insulin. In this case, the best option would be to limit your sugar intake rather than using other sweeteners.
Currently using stevia
Such widespread use of stevia is characteristic of the countries of South America, China, Taiwan, Laos, Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Israel, Japan and the USA. The prevalence and widespread use of the plant was due to the fact that the stevioside contained in it is the sweetest and most harmless product available today. So, stevioside, unlike sugar, does not increase blood glucose, has a moderate antibacterial effect and does not contain calories, so stevia and its extracts or syrups are considered an ideal product for inclusion in the menu as a sweetener of any dishes and drinks instead of all the usual sugar. In Japan, for example, about half of all confectionery, sugary drinks, and even chewing gum is made using exactly the powder or syrup of stevia, and not sugar. And in everyday life, the Japanese use stevia instead of sugar for any dishes and drinks.
Stevia instead of sugar is useful to absolutely all people, but it is absolutely necessary to replace it with sugar for those who suffer from diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and metabolic disorders.
Stevia is also very widespread in Asia and South America due to the fact that it is relatively easy to cultivate, provides a rich harvest of leaves and does not require large expenditures for the production of a sweetener from it. For example, in Asia, about 6 tons of dried stevia leaves are harvested per hectare per year, from which 100 tons of extract are made. A ton of stevia extract is equivalent to the amount of sugar obtained from 30 tons of sugar beets. And beet yield is 4 tons per hectare. That is, it is more profitable to grow stevia to produce a sweetener than beets.
Indians living in what is now Brazil and Paraguay have been eating stevia leaves for centuries, which they called sweet grass. Moreover, stevia was used both as a sweetener for mate tea, and as a seasoning for ordinary dishes. Also, the Indians used stevia to treat various diseases.
But in Europe, the USA and Asia, no one paid attention to stevia until, in 1931, the French chemists M. Bridel and R. Lavie isolated sweet glycosides — steviosides and rebaudiosides — from the leaves of the plant. These glycosides give a sweet taste to stevia leaves. Since glycosides are completely harmless to humans, in the 50-60s of the last century, stevia was noticed in different countries as a potential sugar substitute in order to try to reduce sugar consumption by the population and reduce the number of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity. Moreover, stevia can be used for diabetes, as it does not affect blood glucose levels.
In the 70s of the last century, Japan developed a methodology for the industrial cultivation of stevia and obtaining an extract from it, which can be used instead of sugar. The Japanese began to grow stevia in order to replace cyclamate and saccharin, which turned out to be carcinogenic sweeteners. As a result, since about 1977 in Japan, from a third to half of the products are produced using stevia instead of sugar. And the fact that the Japanese are long-livers is known to all, in which, perhaps, there is merit and stevia.
In the former USSR, they began to study stevia only in the 70s, when one of the botanists who worked in Paraguay brought the seeds of this plant to their homeland. Bushes were grown in Moscow laboratories and thoroughly investigated.
The final report on the properties of stevia was classified, as it was decided that instead of sugar, members of the country's top leadership and their families would use exactly stevia. But at present, some declassified information can be obtained from this report, which indicated that regular consumption of extract from stevia leaves leads to a decrease in blood glucose and cholesterol levels, improved blood flow (dilution), and normalization of the liver and pancreas. It was also noted that stevioside has a diuretic and anti-inflammatory effect. In the same document, scientists pointed out that consumption of stevia extract in diabetes prevents hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic crises / coma, improves glucose uptake by cells and, ultimately, reduces the dosage of insulin or other drugs with a hypoglycemic effect (lowering blood glucose). In addition, the positive effect of stevia in diseases of the joints, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system, skin, teeth, obesity, atherosclerosis was shown.
Based on the research results, it was decided to replace sugar with stevia extract in the diet of members of the country's top leadership and the state security committee. For this purpose, the plant was grown in the republics of Central Asia, and the plantations were carefully and strictly guarded. The stevia extract itself was classified, and in the countries of the former Union almost no one knew about this wonderful sweetener.
Stevia diet pills - negative review
In the 1980s, animal studies were conducted, which concluded that stevia can be carcinogenic and cause fertility problems, but the evidence remained inconclusive. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified purified stevia extract (in particular rebaudioside A) as safe.
However, whole leaves or crude stevia extract was not approved for addition to foods and drinks due to lack of research. However, numerous reviews of people claim that whole-leaf stevia is a safe alternative to sugar or its artificial counterparts. The experience of using this herb for centuries in Japan and South America as a natural sweetener and a means to maintain health confirms this.
And although Stevia leaf is not approved for commercial distribution, it is still grown for home use and is actively used in cooking.
What is stevia and where does it grow
Stevia (Stevia Rebaudiana), or honey grass, is a subtropical perennial shrub with 2–3 cm leaves and miniature white flowers, which was originally found in the southern and central parts of the American continent. According to tradition, Paraguay, Mexico and Brazil are considered the birthplace of honey stevia grass, but it has spread throughout the world, including in southern Russia.
The origin of the herb is mysterious: according to one version, the botany and the doctor Stevius, who lived in the 16th century, are attributed to the botanist and doctor Stevius, who owes their name to the famous Russian scientist Steven.
And the name "honey grass" was assigned to stevia from the Guarani Indians, who appreciated its properties both as a sweetener and as a medicine.
And the source of the unique sweetness of honey grass - glycosides - were isolated by French researchers in 1931. Later, in the 70s of the XX century, its properties as a sweetener for the manufacture of drinks were adopted by the Japanese food industry, then herbal tea based on it became very popular. Honey grass has been widely used in culinary experiments in the USA as an additive to desserts, pastries, and dairy products.
The composition and calorie content of stevia
Stevia is characterized by a sweet taste due to its glycosides, mainly stevoid, which includes glucose, sophorose and steviol, which give the herb a unique sweetness. A stevisoid is obtained from an extract of grass and is used in the food industry as an additive labeled E960, which is classified as safe.
The glycoside complex in the composition of the grass is also supplemented:
- rebaudiosides A, C, B,
Stevia also boasts a wealth of useful components in its composition:
- vitamins A, E, K, C, P (routine), PP (nicotinic acid) and group B,
- essential oils
- mineral substances: potassium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron and silicon.
The sweet properties of stevia exceed beet sugar by 25 times, with negligible calories:
One hundred grams of grass contains 18 kcal, which is especially appreciated in dietary nutrition.
Comparison of which is better: stevia, xylitol or fructose
|Stevia is the only natural, non-nutritive, zero-glycemic index alternative to sugar.||Xylitol is found in mushrooms, fruits and vegetables. For commercial production, extracted from birch and corn.||Fructose is a natural sweetener found in honey, fruits, berries and vegetables.|
|Does not increase blood sugar and does not cause an increase in triglycerides or cholesterol.||The glycemic index is low, slightly increasing blood sugar when consumed.||It has a low glycemic index, but at the same time there is a rapid conversion into lipids, the level of cholesterol and triglycerides rises.|
|Unlike artificial sweeteners, it does not contain harmful chemicals.||May increase blood pressure.|
|Stevia can help with weight loss because it does not contain calories.||When consumed in excess of foods containing fructose, obesity, heart and liver problems occur.|
Stevia for weight loss
Stevia glycosides, with their zero calorie content, are superior to sucrose in their beneficial properties, which has found application in weight loss diets.
The easiest option is to include the E960 stevoid in the diet and use it to sweeten dishes. You can buy it in specialized stores or pharmacies.
You can also use a non-synthesized version - an infusion of dry stevia herbs,
For 200 ml of water, take 20 g of crushed grass, mix, bring to a boil, cook for 5 minutes. and insist another 10 minutes. After pouring the composition into a heated thermos and insist in it for 12 hours. After that, the liquid is filtered into a sterilized glass container. The rest of the herb is poured with 100 ml of boiling water and insisted for another 8 hours. The infusion is attached to the previously prepared, mixed by shaking.
Add to drinks and dishes.
The third option for using stevia for weight loss is grass tea in bags or powdered dry leaves in bulk. The drink will be beneficial with the regimen 2 times a day half an hour before meals.
For cooking, use 1 filter bag or 1 tsp. chopped herbs in a glass of boiled water. Insist for 10 minutes.
In tablets, stevia is taken up to 3 times a day for half an hour before meals, 1 to 2 pieces, washed down with warm boiled water or dissolved in a small amount of clean water. The maximum allowable dose is 6 tablets per day.
The benefits and harms of stevia in diabetes
The beneficial property of stevia to help lower blood sugar is used in diabetes.
In the insulin-dependent form (type 1), grass is taken as an additional general preventive drug, while type 2 diabetes mellitus does not imply dependence on insulin, so stevia benefits directly by inclusion in the diabetic menu or as a prophylaxis.
Forms of the use of stevia in diabetes:
- Infusion - brewed according to the standard recipe, as for weight loss,
- Liquid extract to be taken in 1 tsp. with food or drinks,
- Tablets - take up to 3 times a day according to the instructions.
In addition, the benefit for diabetics can be manifested in the bactericidal properties of stevia, which help to heal wounds and trophic ulcers without scars in the diabetic foot: in this case, shallow wounds are moistened with grass concentrate.
A quick version of the infusion is prepared as follows:
Ground honey - 2 tbsp. l placed in a bag of 2 layers of gauze, pour boiling water (1 tbsp.) and keep on low heat for half an hour. Then poured into a bottle. The contents of the gauze bag are re-filled with half a glass of water, they also insist for half an hour, mixed with the first broth. The resulting infusion is additionally filtered.
Stevia during pregnancy and breastfeeding
The benefits and harms of stevia as a sweetener in pregnancy and lactation is a moot point. On the one hand, the use of healthy honey grass can undoubtedly normalize the digestive tract, improve metabolism, help the heart and blood vessels, and increase immunity.
On the other hand, during this period, the body is especially sensitive to various food agents and is able to show an increased reaction, including phytopreparations.
Therefore, the decision to use stevia in the menu should be strictly in accordance with the advice of a doctor.
During lactation, you can be less afraid of the use of supplements from stevia, however, it is important to test the ability of the components of the herb to cause an allergic reaction during the day.
In the absence of general indications and a negative result of an allergy test, you can gently add grass to food, while controlling your well-being.
The plant will also benefit in restoring weight after childbirth, strengthening the body as a whole.
Is it possible to give stevia to children
Given that children love sweets, the properties of stevia as a natural organic sugar substitute will help well in the child’s diet, especially in cases of contraindications to the use of sugar-containing products. Herbal extract, which is devoid of taste, perfectly solves such problems.
You can also use tea with stevia, which will benefit the prevention of viral diseases and strengthen the immune system.
Stevia Release Forms
Today, stevia is present on the market in various convenient forms:
- effervescent tablets in dispenser packages,
- crystalline powder resembling sugar,
- liquid syrup
- standardized extract
- in the form of dry shredded grass,
- dry finely ground leaves in filter bags.
For fans of growing plants, you can get stevia on the windowsill - the benefits of freshly brewed leaves will exceed the use of the drug in tablets.
How to take stevia
With a healthy state of the body, there are no dosage restrictions in taking the supplement.
Stevia in powder is usually packaged in bags of 1 and 2 g. It should be diluted in water, focusing on a proportion of 1 g per 1 tbsp. warm water.
Sweetener in tablets has the ability to slowly dissolve, so it will take a little time when stirring with a spoon.
Stevia syrup is added at the rate of 4 drops per glass of liquid product or to taste - in solid products: it is not only convenient, but also beneficial, unlike adding sugar.
In cooking, stevia is used with the use of a natural sweetener, sweetening drinks and dishes, homemade pastries, sweets, cold desserts.
The benefits of stevia as a natural preservative are used in the preparation of products, while the grass is able to neutralize the harm of fungi and microorganisms.
It is important to know some features of its preparation:
- Before using stevia in baking, you should first test its taste: it is specific to the plant, somewhat reminiscent of licorice, therefore it is not suitable for everyone. It is worth pre-brewing tea and only then decide whether the herb is suitable as a spice in dishes.
The easiest way to make tea from stevia is to use tea bags that you can buy at a supermarket, specialty store, or pharmacy. Sachets are poured not with boiling water, but with water brought to a temperature of 90 ° C: so the benefits of stevia will be better revealed.
The color of freshly brewed tea is brown, and the brew of several hours is dark green.
You can also prepare stevia for tea yourself if the plant is grown in a summer cottage. The most suitable time for harvesting will be flowering, when the stevoid is maximally concentrated in the grass. Leaves are cut. Dry and grind into powder.
1 tablespoon of chopped stevia herb is poured with 1 liter of water brought up to 90 ° C. Cover and insist 20 minutes. To prepare the tea leaves take half a liter of water.
Another option for making tea as a sweetener in drinks instead of sugar is boiling the stevia herbs for 15 minutes, and then insisting in a thermos for 10 hours. To do this, take 1 cup of water for 1 tablespoon of stevia "with a hill".
The beneficial properties of tea with stevia herb are that it:
- strengthens the body, normalizes immunity, blood circulation, blood glucose and blood pressure,
- helps in scarring stomach ulcers, improves bowel, liver and kidney function,
- eliminates gastritis and caries.
The benefits of stevia
The benefits of stevia are determined by the various substances contained in it. So, sweet glycosides - stevioside and rebaudiosides provide a sweet taste of leaves, extract, syrup and powder from the plant. When used as sweeteners instead of sugar, funds based on stevia (powder, extract, syrup) distinguish their following useful properties:
- Provides food, drinks and drinks with a sweet taste without any flavors,
- Contain almost zero calories,
- They do not decompose upon heating, long-term storage, interaction with acids and alkalis, therefore they can be used in cooking,
- They have a moderate antifungal, antiparasitic and antibacterial effect,
- They have an anti-inflammatory effect,
- Do not harm with prolonged use, even in large quantities,
- For assimilation, they do not require the presence of insulin, as a result of which they do not increase, but normalize the level of sugar in the blood.
In addition to the fact that stevioside helps to normalize blood sugar levels, it also balances the impaired metabolism, eases the course of diabetes, nourishes the pancreas and gently restores its normal functioning. With the use of stevia in patients with diabetes mellitus, the risk of developing hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic conditions practically disappears when the blood level either drops sharply or rises due to an overdose of insulin or excessive consumption of carbohydrate foods. Stevia also improves glucose uptake by cells without insulin, which makes diabetes easier and even reduces the dosage of insulin or other sugar-lowering drugs.
By improving glucose utilization by stevia cells, it reduces blood cholesterol, reduces the load on the liver and normalizes the functioning of this organ. Therefore, stevia is also useful for people suffering from various liver diseases, such as hepatosis, hepatitis, impaired bile secretion, etc.
The presence of saponins in stevia provides liquefaction of sputum and facilitates its excretion and expectoration in any pathology of the respiratory organs. Accordingly, stevia can be used as an expectorant for bronchitis, pneumonia and other diseases accompanied by the formation of sputum in the respiratory organs. This means that this plant is useful to all healthy people who have caught a cold or got bronchitis, pneumonia, seasonal flu / SARS, as well as those who suffer from chronic bronchopulmonary pathologies (for example, smoker's bronchitis, chronic pneumonia, etc.).
Stevia preparations (dried leaf powder, extract or syrup) have a slight irritating effect on the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, as a result of which the activity of the glands in the production of mucus, which protects these organs from damage by any factors and substances, is enhanced. Accordingly, stevia is useful for people suffering from almost any disease of the digestive tract, for example, gastritis, gastric and duodenal ulcer, chronic colitis, etc. Also, stevia is also useful for food poisoning or intestinal infections, as it accelerates the restoration of the normal mucous membrane of the intestines and stomach.
In addition, stevia saponins have a diuretic effect and contribute to the removal of various accumulated toxic substances from the bloodstream. Thanks to these effects, taking stevia reduces edema and helps to reduce the severity of chronic skin and rheumatic diseases (eczema, gout, lupus erythematosus, arthritis, arthrosis, etc.). It is noteworthy that due to the anti-inflammatory effect, stevia can also be used as a diuretic in inflammatory processes in the kidneys (nephritis), when other diuretic herbs are contraindicated (horsetail, etc.).
By removing toxic substances from the bloodstream, lowering sugar and cholesterol levels, stevia improves blood flow, or, in a common language, dilutes blood. And improving blood flow normalizes microcirculation, provides a good supply of oxygen and nutrients to all organs and tissues. Accordingly, stevia is useful for people with microcirculation disorders, for example, against the background of atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, endarteritis, etc. In fact, blood microcirculation is impaired in all cardiovascular diseases, which means that with these pathologies, stevia will undoubtedly be useful in combination with the main drugs used.
Stevia leaves also contain essential oils that have anti-inflammatory, wound healing and regenerating (restoring structure) effects in cuts, burns, frostbite, eczema, prolonged unhealing of ulcers, purulent wounds and postoperative sutures. Accordingly, leaf powder, extract and Stevia syrup can be used externally to treat various skin lesions. Stevia healing occurs with the formation of minimal scars.
In addition, stevia essential oils have a tonic and antispasmodic effect on the stomach, intestines, spleen, liver and gall bladder. Due to the tonic effect, these organs begin to work better, their motility is normalized, and the antispasmodic effect eliminates spasms and colic. Accordingly, essential oils improve the functioning of the stomach, liver, intestines, spleen and gall bladder, as they begin to contract normally evenly without spastic compression, as a result of which they do not stagnate contents (food, blood, bile, etc.), but rather its normal passage.
Stevia essential oils have antifungal, antiparasitic and antibacterial effects, destroying, respectively, pathogenic viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasitic worms. This effect helps to cure diseases of the gums, gastrointestinal tract, liver, urinary and reproductive systems, as well as dental caries.
Thanks to the essential oils, stevia can also be used for cosmetic purposes, for example, wiping the skin with infusion of herbs. The regular use of stevia as a cosmetic product makes the skin clean, supple, reduces the severity of wrinkles, etc. However, for the use of stevia for cosmetic purposes, it is better to make alcohol or oil tinctures from the leaves, since essential oils dissolve better in alcohol or oil than in water.
Stevia is also useful in cases of joint damage - arthritis and arthrosis, as it reduces the severity of the inflammatory process and helps to restore cartilage tissue.
Taking stevia in combination with drugs of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory group (Aspirin, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Nurofen, Nimesulide, Diclofenac, Nise, Movalis, Indomethacin, etc.) reduces the negative effect of the latter on the mucous membrane of the stomach and intestines, preventing aspirin ulcers. And this is very important for people who are constantly forced to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for example, against the background of arthritis. Thanks to stevia, the harm of NSAIDs to the stomach can be neutralized.
In addition to all of the above, stevia gently stimulates the adrenal medulla, so hormones are produced continuously and in the right amount. Studies have shown that Stevia stimulation of the adrenal medulla promotes longevity.
Summarizing the above data, we can say that the benefits of stevia are simply huge. This plant has a positive effect on almost all organs and systems of the human body, normalizing their work, contributing to recovery and, thereby, prolonging life. We can say that stevia should be recommended for continuous use as a substitute for sugar in diseases of the liver, pancreas, joints, stomach, intestines, bronchi, lungs, kidneys, bladder and skin, as well as pathology of the heart and blood vessels, atherosclerosis, dental caries , periodontitis, periodontal disease, obesity, diabetes mellitus, any violations of the blood microcirculation.
The harm of stevia
I must say that the Indians of South America for 1500 years of using stevia in the diet and as a medicinal plant did not reveal any harm from it.However, in 1985, the results of a study were published stating that steviol (stevioside + rebaudiosides), obtained industrially from stevia leaves, is a carcinogen that can provoke the onset and development of cancerous tumors of various organs. Scientists came to this conclusion on the basis of an experiment in rats, when they studied the liver of laboratory animals that were given steviol. But the results and conclusions of this study were seriously criticized by other scientists, since the experiment was set up in such a way that even distilled water would be a carcinogen.
Further, other studies have been conducted regarding the harmfulness of stevia. Some studies have revealed the carcinogenicity of stevioside and steviol, while others, on the contrary, have recognized them as completely harmless and safe. Recent studies have nevertheless agreed that stevia is safe and harmless to humans. Given this divergence of opinion regarding the harmfulness of stevia, the World Health Organization in 2006 analyzed the results of all studies conducted regarding the toxicity of this plant. As a result, WHO concluded that "under laboratory conditions, some steviol derivatives are indeed carcinogenic, but in vivo, the toxicity of stevia has not been detected and is not confirmed." That is, laboratory experiments reveal some harmful properties in stevia, but when used naturally in the form of a powder, extract or syrup, this plant does no harm to the body of stevia. In a final conclusion, the WHO commission indicated that products from stevia are not carcinogenic, harmful or harmful to humans.
The benefits of stevia syrup in drinks and desserts will be indispensable.
To prepare it, green leaves and shoots are poured with water and boiled for 40 minutes. Next, the liquid is filtered and continued to evaporate over a small fire or water bath until a consistency when the drop does not spread on a plate.
A syrup can be prepared from an herb extract obtained by alcohol or water. The liquid is also evaporated for 4 to 6 hours, controlling that it does not boil - until the syrup begins to flow smoothly in the form of a thin stream on a spoon. The finished syrup is poured into a bottle and stored for up to 1.5 years, at room temperature - the beneficial properties of stevia will be preserved.
For Oatmeal Christmas Cookies with Stevia, you will need:
- Hercules - 200 g
- fat-free cottage cheese - 200 g,
- eggs - 2 pcs.,
- dried cranberries (cherries) - 100 g,
- raisins - 50 g
- whole grain flour - 50 g,
- cognac - 25 g,
- stevoid - 10 tablets or 1 tsp.,
- zest of 1 orange.
- Cranberries or cherries with raisins are soaked in heated water, drained and washed.
- Hercules, flour and baking powder are mixed.
- Beat eggs lightly, put into the dough and then, in turn, add cottage cheese, berries, zest. Top up cognac.
- All is mixed and laid out on parchment.
- Bake for 25 minutes. in the oven at 200 ° C.
Christmas compote with stevia
- water - 1, 5 l,
- quince, apples - 6 pcs.,
- orange - 1 pc.,
- cinnamon - 1 stick,
- cardamom - 3 - 4 grains,
- star anise - 3 stars,
- stevia - 1 filter bag,
- rosehip - 1 sachet.
- Dice apples and quince.
- Peel is removed from the orange, and the slices are cleaned of grain and cut into 3 parts each.
- Bring water to a boil, lay apples, quince and boil a little.
- Orange is added to the boiling mixture.
- When the fruits are cooked (determined by softness), add spices: orange zest, cinnamon, crushed cardamom and star anise.
- Bring the fruit to full readiness, add a bag of stevia and rose hips, cover and remove from heat.
The yield of the finished product is 2 liters.
The use of stevia in cosmetology
The beneficial properties of stevia to improve the condition of the skin and hair have been evaluated by women who use the herb as part of home cosmetics.
Powdered dry honey grass, diluted with warm water to gruel, is also used to prepare masks that increase the smoothness and elasticity of the skin: both independently for nutrition and with other ingredients.
Mask for dry skin
The pulp of the crushed grass is mixed with olive oil - 1 tsp each. of each component, add raw yolk and knock down thoroughly with a fork. Apply to the face until the mask dries. Remove carefully: a dried composition with protein can harm the skin.
Mask for oily skin
A mixture of a teaspoon of stevia gruel is mixed with raw protein and 1 tsp. lemon juice.
The grass also has useful properties and as decoctions for hair.
Rinse with stevia for hair.
Stevia leaves in dry and fresh form - 2 tbsp. l - pour a glass of boiling water and insist for 3 hours. To rinse, mix 1 cup of decoction with 1 liter of water - purified or mineral.
The use of such a procedure every time after shampooing will be useful for enhancing hair growth, increasing its density, giving shine.
Which is better: stevia, fructose or sucralose
Comparing the benefits and harms of the popular sweeteners that replace fructose and sucralose sugar with respect to stevia, conclusions can be drawn regarding the individual preferences of a particular drug.
So, sucralose is characterized by:
- obtaining from sugar in a concentration that gives an increase in its sweet properties 600 times,
- with a zero glycemic index (meaning no effect on blood sugar),
- the substance is able to maintain its properties after heat treatment,
- do not give an unpleasant aftertaste,
- excreted in a day.
Its disadvantages include a limitation in the dosage of 5 mg per kilogram of weight, the excess of which can threaten the harm of extra kilograms.
As for fructose, its features are:
- synthetic origin (using hydrolysis during the decomposition of sucrose),
- excess of the sweet properties of sugar by about 1.5 times, pleasant taste,
- low glycemic index
- ability to enhance the taste of fruits.
The conditional minuses can be identified as a high calorie product, limiting the daily norm to 40 g, exceeding which retains the risks of obesity.
With all these advantages and disadvantages of various sweeteners, it is possible to note in this regard the undoubted advantage of the stevia herb in its healing properties.
For weight loss
There are many causes of overweight and obesity: physical inactivity and increased consumption of energy-intensive foods high in fat and sugars. Stevia is sugar free and has very few calories. It can be part of a balanced diet while losing weight to reduce energy consumption without sacrificing taste.
Stevia - what is it?
Stevia is only called grass. In fact, it is a perennial shrub. Its height reaches 120 cm. The accepted classification assigns the genus "Stevia" to the numerous Astrov family, Astrocranial order, and the class of Dicotyledons.
Fig. 1. Inflorescences of the Stevia plant
Stevia has a stem up to 1.5 cm thick. The bush is well pubescent, its shape is spilled, depending on the place of growth and the method of cultivation. Paired leaves, saturated green, have rounded serrated edges. During the flowering period, stevia is covered with small white, sometimes with a pinkish tinge, inflorescences. Ripened seeds are small, brownish or grayish in color.
The genus "Stevia" includes 241 species, but only one of them - Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni or honey stevia - is grown and processed on an industrial scale. Only leaves of the shrub are processed, they are collected immediately before flowering, when the concentration of sweet substances is highest.
Where is it growing?
Stevia is from Latin America. Stevia prefers light soils with low salinity, a semi-arid climate and plenty of sun. The natural habitat is elevated plateaus and foothills of the South American continent. The largest amount of wild stevia is found in Paraguay. The same countries grow raw materials on plantations, which are considered the best in quality.
Fig. 2. Brazilian Honey Shrub Plantation
Stevia took root well in Southeast Asia. Since the 90s of the last century, it has been actively cultivated in many countries of this region. Today, China is the main supplier of stevia to the global market.
Preventive and therapeutic benefits
The healing properties of the miraculous shrub were noted even by the Indians of Latin America. Such a treatment was popular: chew leaves to clean the oral cavity and strengthen tooth enamel, use the infusion of the plant to disinfect and accelerate the healing process of scratches and wounds.
Modern science has confirmed the antiseptic benefits of stevia and a beneficial effect on teeth. In addition, a number of previously unknown, positive reactions to taking drugs with stevioside have been identified. We list them:
- the substances that make up stevioside participate in the regeneration and restoration of the tissues of the cells of the human body,
- the load on the pancreas is reduced due to a decrease in the need for insulin production,
- metabolism is normalized
- some steviols belong to the class of saponins - surfactants that contribute to the separation of sputum,
- flavonoids strengthen immunity because they are powerful antioxidants,
- vessels and capillaries are strengthened, their elasticity is increased,
- blocks the development of parasites in the body,
- normalization of blood pressure is noted,
- the risk of dental caries is reduced.
Do you know that ...?
In Paraguay, residents consume, on average, 10 kg of sweet grass leaves per year. The country has one of the lowest diabetes incidence rates, and a small percentage of people are obese. Since the leaves of stevia contain all the healing properties necessary for the body.
It is necessary to emphasize the positive effects that are manifested due to two main qualities of the plant extract - low calorie content and inability to significantly affect blood sugar. Stevia has a good effect on:
- Digestion. Steviol relieves stress from the pancreas, which would be forced to produce more insulin to break down excess glucose. Preparations with steviol improve the functioning of the stomach, heal small wounds in it, and fight parasites in the intestine.
- Teeth. Steviosides help in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as periodontal disease and gingivitis. Perfectly protect teeth from caries, strengthen their enamel.
- Wounds and injuries. A solution of stevia treat festering wounds, cuts, trophic ulcers, burns. As a result, pain is relieved and rapid healing occurs. The sheet contains tannins that convert the proteins of the skin and mucous membrane into solid, insoluble compounds. A barrier forms in the way of bacteria. This explains the disinfecting properties of this plant. Residents of the tropics are actively using the infusion of sugar shrubs to relieve itching and swelling in places of mosquito bites.
- General strengthening effect. Stevioside is recommended not only for patients with diabetes mellitus or people suffering from obesity. Healthy people with normal weight will only benefit the plant. Instead of refining, which, in addition to sweetness and a huge amount of calories, gives nothing, you get an additional source of minerals and vitamins. Refuse classical sugar - and in a short time you will feel the general improvement of health, a surge of strength and vigor.
Sweetener Release Forms
Stevia is available in several forms, each of which is convenient for use in different situations:
- in tablets - ½ tbsp. l replaces 200 g of sugar, and a pinch of powdered tablets - 1 tbsp. l., convenient to add to drinks,
- dry leaf extract is a powder supplied in large volumes by Japan and China, in the amount at the tip of the knife replaces 1 tsp. sugar, you can put in any dishes,
- in disposable bags - brewed instead of tea,
- a liquid sugar substitute is an extract, 2 drops of which replace 14 g of sugar (this is 2 tsp).
Stevia sugar is a sweetener in powder or tablet form.
Watch the video in which the plant is described in detail:
Honey grass during pregnancy and lactation
The use of stevia during pregnancy is not contraindicated. Reducing refined sugar and replacing it with products from honey grass relieves dry mouth and a constant feeling of hunger. The plant helps to lower blood pressure.
No special scientific and laboratory studies on the effects of stevia on the body of a pregnant woman have been conducted. But the indigenous population of Latin America for many centuries uses the plant as a useful one.
The use of stevia during breastfeeding has no contraindications if there is no allergy to this product. Breast milk is becoming sweeter.
To add to food, stevia is used in the form of:
Sweets with the addition of stevia have a much lower calorie content than usual. Replacing sugar with honey grass extract is on an industrial scale. Chocolate and sweets are produced with it, for example, ECO, Pobeda, TRAPA brands. Condensed whole milk is also found, but rarely.
How to cook yourself condensed milk with stevia:
- Mix 3 tbsp. l milk powder, 1 tbsp. l corn starch, 2 tsp Stevia powder and 100 ml of milk. Beat with a blender.
- Pour the mass into the mold, add another 100 ml of milk. Boil in a steam bath for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes.
Stevia powder and extract can be used for baking instead of sugar. Stevia recipes:
- Orange cupcake. Mix 2 eggs, 2 tsp. dry extract, 1 tsp baking powder, 120 ml of kefir, 200 g of flour, 75 g of melted butter, orange zest. Try for sweetness, if necessary add more stevia. Put in molds, bake for 20–25 minutes at 180 ° С.
- Cherry Pie. Combine 150 g of ground oatmeal, 2 eggs, 200 ml of yogurt, 20 g of cocoa, 2 g of stevioside. Pour half the dough into the mold, put 200 g of cherries on top, then the remaining dough. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 180 ° C.
According to the video you can make cookies:
Jam can be cooked without sugar, it is replaced with stevia. Recipes for diabetics:
- Wash, peel, cut 1 kg of apples, put in a pan. Add 1 tsp. stevioside diluted in 120 ml of water. Bring to a boil, cool. Boil again, arrange in banks.
- Wash 1.2 kg of lingonberry berries, pour into a container. Add 1 tbsp. l lemon juice, 2.5 tsp stevioside, 150 ml of water and 50 g of apple pectin. Cook for 10 minutes, pour into jars.
Glycosides contained in stevia are able to dilate blood vessels. They also increase sodium excretion and act as a diuretic. 2003 experiments showed that stevia could potentially help lower blood pressure. But further research is needed to confirm this useful property.
So, the healthy properties of stevia require further study before they can be confirmed. However, be sure that stevia is safe for diabetics when taken as an alternative to sugar.
Contraindications (harm) and side effects
The benefits and possible harm to stevia depend on what form you prefer to consume and on its amount. There is a huge difference between pure extract and chemically processed foods with a small percentage of stevia added.
But even if you choose high-quality stevia, it is not recommended to consume more than 3-4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.
Here are the main side effects that can cause harm to health due to excess dosage:
- If you have low blood pressure, stevia can cause it to drop even more.
- Some liquid forms of stevia contain alcohol, and people with sensitivity to it may experience bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Everyone with an allergy to ragweed, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and daisies may experience a similar allergic reaction to stevia because this herb is from the same family.
One animal study found that excessive consumption of stevia reduces the fertility of male rats. But since this only happens when it is consumed in high doses, such an effect may not be observed in humans.
Adding a drop of stevia to a cup of tea from time to time is unlikely to cause harm, but it is better not to use it during pregnancy or during lactation due to lack of research in this area. In cases where pregnant women need sugar substitutes, it is recommended to use them without exceeding the dosage.
Worldwide, more than 5,000 food and beverage products currently contain stevia as an ingredient:
- ice cream,
- pickled foods
- soft drinks,
- chewing gum,
Stevia is well-suited for cooking and baking, unlike some artificial and chemical sweeteners that break down at high temperatures. It not only sweetens, but also enhances the taste of products.
Stevia is resistant to temperatures up to 200 C, which makes it an ideal sugar substitute for many recipes:
- In powder form, it is ideal for baking, as it is similar in texture to sugar.
- Liquid Stevia Concentrate is ideal for liquid foods such as soups, stews and sauces.
How to use as a substitute for sugar
Stevia can be used instead of regular sugar in foods and drinks.
- 1 teaspoon of sugar = 1/8 teaspoon of powdered stevia = 5 drops of liquid,
- 1 tablespoon of sugar = 1/3 teaspoon of powdered stevia = 15 drops of liquid stevia,
- 1 cup sugar = 2 tablespoons stevia powder = 2 teaspoons stevia in liquid form.
The Stevia sugar ratio may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so read the packaging before adding the sweetener. Using too much of this sweetener can lead to a noticeable bitter taste.
General instructions for use
In almost any recipe, you can use stevia, for example, cook jam or jam, bake cookies. To do this, use the universal tips on how to replace sugar with stevia:
- Step 1 . Combine the ingredients as indicated in the recipe until you get sugar. Replace sugar with stevia according to the shape you have. Since stevia is much sweeter than sugar, an equivalent substitution is not possible. For measurement see previous section.
- Step 2 Since the amount of stevia to be replaced is much less than sugar, you will need to add more other ingredients to make up for weight loss and balance the dish. For each glass of sugar you have replaced, add 1/3 cup of liquid, such as apple sauce, yogurt, fruit juice, egg whites, or water (that is, what is in the recipe).
- Step 3 Mix all the other ingredients and follow the further steps of the recipe.
An important nuance: if you intend to make jam or mashed potato with stevia, then they will have a fairly short shelf life (maximum one week in the refrigerator). For long-term storage, you need to freeze them.
To get a thick consistency of the product you will also need a gelling agent - pectin.
Sugar is one of the most dangerous ingredients in food. This is why alternative natural sweeteners such as stevia, which are not harmful to health, are becoming increasingly popular.
Does not increase blood sugar
Natural sweetener, famous for its almost zero calorie content, is of great interest to many scientists.
When answering a question, stevia is useful or harmful, you should refer to the data of scientific research. One of the reasons why some people refuse to use the leaves of this plant as a sweetener is a possible allergic reaction of the body. However, it is scientifically proven that this herb is hypoallergenic. In addition, unlike synthetic sweeteners, stevia does not increase blood sugar, so there is no reason to talk about an increased risk of diabetes from the use of stevia.
Studies of stevia and its effects on the body
In 2005, Planta Medica published the results of a study that confirmed the ability of stevia to lower blood sugar. This effect is achieved due to the presence of a sweet component in the composition of the plant - stevioside. This substance helps to normalize blood sugar levels with regular use of natural sweeteners. In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority Journal published the results of another study examining the relationship between stevia and diabetes. Italian scientists have proven that consuming this plant leads to a decrease in insulin resistance. As a result of this, the product is safe both for healthy people and for patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.
Another positive feature of this plant is the ability to normalize blood pressure. The relationship between the use of stevia and blood pressure was the subject of a separate study by physicians at the University of Taipei in 2003. Experts conducted tests in which people of different ages participated, suffering from hypertension or periodically high blood pressure in the initial stages of the development of this disease. As a result, it was found that regular use of the extract of this plant led to a decrease in blood pressure in all participants without exception. A positive effect was recorded in many participants 2 years after the start of the extract.
Scientists from the University of Texas also conducted a series of studies on the beneficial properties of stevia and the effects of this plant's extract on the body. Doctors have determined that due to the presence of a substance called “kempferol” in the leaves, the use of this plant is an effective prophylactic against some forms of cancer, in particular, the pancreas.
It is believed that taking stevia can cause infertility. However, this has not been scientifically confirmed. On the contrary, in countries where it grows and is regularly used, the birth rate is at a high level.
Some mistakenly believe that this plant is toxic. However, this also does not have a single scientific evidence. Stevia-based organic products are non-toxic, unlike synthetic sweeteners. The negative effect of this plant on the body is possible only if the allowable consumption is significantly exceeded. Individual intolerance to the components that make up the leaves is also possible. However, the percentage of people with individual intolerance to this plant is extremely small.
Stevia - sweetener
The main use of the plant is to replace regular refined sugar. Stevia leaves are added to tea or brewed without adding other ingredients. In addition, various forms of this sweetener are sold in specialized stores and pharmacies.
In what form is it sold
In dried ground form, tablets, in the form of syrup and white powder.
I immediately want to note that white powder and tablets are not Stevia herb, but its extract. Very often, such products contain artificial sweeteners, flavorings, etc. Accordingly, there is little benefit from them. In addition, the white powder is too concentrated, since it is actually a pure refined stevioside. Add it to dishes and drinks is very carefully and in small quantities.
A syrup is obtained by boiling the infusion of leaves to a thick, viscous state. He is also pretty concentrated.
We bring to your attention a table that will help you understand how much stevia should be added instead of regular sugar.
How to use stevia instead of sugar
Due to the harmful additions to the tablets and the white powder, perhaps bad rumors appear about this plant. To avoid negative consequences, we advise you to purchase it in its natural form - a dark green powder of crushed leaves, or to independently prepare a tincture.
Stevia tincture at home
1 tbsp crushed leaves + 1 glass of water. Bring to a boil and hold on low heat for another 5 minutes. After that, immediately pour the broth into a thermos. Leave to brew for 9 - 10 hours, then strain and pour into a sterilized container.
Pour the remaining leaves back into 0.5 cups of boiling water and let them stand for 6 hours in a thermos. Combine the first infusion with fresh. Store the infusion in a refrigerator. Shelf life is 7 days.
Like any plant product, the benefits of stevia for the human body will only be in kind and at a moderate volume. If you switched to proper nutrition, but it’s still hard for you to refuse sweet, then you can safely replace refined sugar with this herb.
Do you use natural sweeteners in your diet? :)