Stevia - A Natural Sweetener
Stevia plant, which are taken from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant . The extracts are known as Steviosides and Rebaudiosides depending on which part of the plant is isolated. These extracts are approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar unless diluted.
The plant is native to Paraguay and Brazil. Since pre-Columbian times the Guarani Indians in Paraguay have used the Stevia leaves to sweeten medicines and drinks.
It can be found in most health food stores and comes as a white powder or in tincture (liquid) form. Stevia has zero calories and it even helps prevent cavities by reducing plaque build-up. It does not affect blood sugar levels like sugar does and is recommended for diabetics. Stevia is heat stable to 392 degrees Fahrenheit, so, unlike some artificial sweeteners, you can cook with it. It is non-toxic and has been extensively tested in animals and extensively used by humans with no adverse effects.
If you tried stevia when it first appeared in health food stores, you might want to give it a second chance. Many of the earlier products had a strong aftertaste. Now there are some improved products on the market.
Stevia in a glycerine base seems to have the best taste of all the powders and tinctures I have personally tried.
Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac
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