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Stevia is a bushy shrub that belongs to the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni. It comes in 150 different species, all of which are native to North and South America.
The current largest exporter of stevia products is China. On the other hand, it is now grown in a variety of nations. Garden centers frequently sell the plant for home cultivation.
Because it is 200 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, it is used as a sweetener. To offer the same level of sweetness as other common sweeteners, it typically takes around 20% of the land and significantly less water.
There are eight glycosides in it. These are the sweet components of it that have been extracted and refined. These glycosides include the following:
- A, B, C, D, E, and F are the rebaudiosides
- Dulcoside A
The most abundant components are stevioside and rebaudioside A (reb A).
Stevia plants can be grown at home, and the leaves can be used to sweeten foods and beverages. Reb-A sweeteners come in a variety of forms, including liquid, powder, dried leaves, fresh leaves and granulated.
Some of the Common Name of Stevia:
- Candy leaf
- Sugar leaf
- Sweet leaf Sweet herb
- Stevia cane
Over 130 nations have approved stevia as a sweetener and food ingredient. These approvals were based on substantial research into the effects of it on the human body.
It has received positive feedback from a variety of regulatory agencies and health-related groups. The following people have given their approval to it:
- US Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
- Europe Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
- Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)
- French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA)
- Health Canada (HC)
- Indonesia National Agency of Drugs and Food Controls (BPOM)
- Flavor Extracts Manufacturers Association (FEMA)
- European Commission and the European Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health
Although it was also banned at some place. You can read full story here: WHY WAS STEVIA BANNED?
Possible Health Benefits
Using stevia as a sweetener instead of sucrose, or table sugar, has the potential to provide significant health benefits.
On the FoodData Central (FDC), it is classified as “calorie-free.” Although it does not have zero calories, it is substantially less calorific than sucrose and hence qualifies as such.
It contains naturally occurring sweet-tasting components. This trait may be advantageous to those who enjoy foods and beverages derived from natural sources. It is a healthy alternative for diabetes control or weight loss due to its low-calorie count.
Some benefits are like:
- Lower blood sugar,
- Maintain cholesterol levels,
- Maintain blood pressure levels
How to use Stevia as a Table Sugar
In your favorite recipes and beverages, it can be substituted for table sugar.
It can be used in a variety of ways, some of which are delicious:
- In coffee or tea
- In homemade lemonade
- Sprinkled on hot or cold cereal
- In a smoothie
- Sprinkled on unsweetened yogurt
Unless you’re using it in baked goods, some stevia brands, like Stevia in the Raw, can be used to replace table sugar teaspoon for teaspoon (as in sweetened liquids and sauces). However, there are more usage of stevia.
Although it can be used in baking, it may leave a licorice flavor in cakes and cookies. Stevia in the Raw suggests using their product to replace half of the total sugar in a dish.