- an Alternative for Sugar? (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni)
is an outstanding, sweet tasting herb that has remarkable health promoting
qualities, yet it is an herb that has been surrounded by much controversy
in the United States.
of Stevia is largely due to its complex stevioside molecule that is
composed of glucose, sophorose and steviol. A second compound called
rebaudioside, which is present in Stevia, also contributes to Stevia's
sweetness. Stevia has a taste that is unique and has been described
as very sweet with a slight licorice, almost bitter aftertaste. Generally,
high quality Stevia contains very little of this bitterness. The sweetness
of Stevia is much different than the sweetness of other natural sweeteners,
sugar, or artificial sweeteners, but it is delicious. For some people
the taste may require some "getting used to," but most people
quickly develop a taste for it.
is a small shrub that is native to Paraguay where the native Gaurani
Indians have used it for over 1500 years as a sweetener, a digestive
aid, tonic, and topical aid in wound healing. In the late 1880's,
a scientist named Moises Santiago Bertoni heard of the herb from Gaurani
Indian guides while he was exploring the eastern forests of Paraguay.
When he found the herb himself he announced his discovery of the "new
species" in a botanical journal and was credited with "discovering"
has many favorable and exciting health benefits and it is completely
non-toxic. The herb is nutrient rich, containing substantial amounts
of protein, calcium, and phosphorous, as well as sodium, magnesium,
zinc, rutin, vitamin A, vitamin C, and over 100 phytonutrients.
is a helpful aid in weight loss due to the fact that it contains no
sugar, no calories and has been shown to reduce craving for sweets
and fatty foods. People have reported that consuming 10-15 drops of
whole leaf concentrate 20 minutes before meals diminished hunger sensations.
Also, those consuming the Stevia teas have experienced a reduction
in their desire for tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Because it contains
no sugar and will not feed yeast, those who are dealing with candida
can use it freely. The herb normalizes blood sugar levels and therefore
promotes a consistent energy flow, unlike sugar, which causes a rapid
peak in blood sugar followed by a crash then a craving for more sugar.
Stevia has been used successfully by diabetics and those suffering
from hypoglycemia and it has been prescribed by physicians in Paraguay
in the treatment of both conditions and for high blood pressure as
well. It is interesting that Stevia doesn't effect normal blood sugar
levels or normal blood pressure.
University School of Dentistry and the Purdue University's dental
research group have both researched Stevia and found it to retard
plaque accumulation on the teeth and suppress bacterial growth that
causes cavities. Many individuals have experienced improved dental
health when they have included Stevia in their brushing routine, by
adding the concentrate to their toothpaste and diluting it in water
as a daily mouthwash.
Stevia has excellent healing capabilities. If placed on a cut or scrape,
it stings initially followed by a significant reduction in pain and
accelerated healing with no scarring. Whole leaf Stevia extract can
be used as a facial mask by smoothing the dark liquid over the entire
face, allowing it to dry for 30-60 minutes, then rinsing. This will
help tighten the skin, smooth out wrinkles and heal skin blemishes
and acne. This has been reported to be effective when used on seborrhea,
dermatitis and eczema, as well. Stevia is also beneficial for the
hair and scalp; good results have been obtained by adding Stevia concentrate
to shampoo, and also applying concentrate to the hair after shampooing,
allowing it to remain on the hair for a few minutes, then rinsing.
has proven beneficial for many when used as a dietary supplement.
Numerous people have reported that taking 20-30 drops of the whole
leaf Stevia concentrate with each meal brought their blood glucose
levels to normal within a short period of time and many have also
experienced increased energy levels and mental acuity, and improved
digestion and immune response.
that each individual's condition and requirements are different. If
you have a serious condition and wish to consume Stevia at high therapeutic
levels, work with a nutritionally minded health care professional
to determine how to include Stevia in your treatment program.
is available in several forms, the less refined being the most healthful.
It can be purchased in dried leaf form, Stevia leaf powder, tea, or
as a liquid tincture, extract, or concentrate. The leaves and powder
are light to medium green and are not water-soluble. Stevia in this
form is approximately 15 to 30 times sweeter than common table sugar
(sucrose). The liquid forms made from the whole leaf are very dark
in color, dark brown to almost black, and come in different purities
and strengths depending on the type and manufacturer. Read labels;
additives are sometimes used in these products, and some are made
with alcohol, some with water. Recently whole leaf Stevia has become
available in tablet form, which provides a convenient means of supplementation
when at work, traveling, or the like.
forms of Stevia, which are the isolated steviosides, come in a white
powder or a clear extract. The steviosides do not retain all of the
health benefits of the unrefined Stevia products. Stevioside is generally
200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. These refined Stevia extracts
are safe and preferable to artificial sweeteners or sugar.
Stevia's extraordinary sweetness, many manufacturers are now offering
"Stevia blends," which are Stevia (usually in the form of
stevioside) blended with malto-dextrin or other fillers. These are
generally about four times sweeter than sugar and claims are made
that these are easier to bake with. Again, read labels so you know
what you are getting.
and taste of all forms of Stevia can vary greatly due to a variety
of factors including where and how it was grown, processing methods,
and if it is diluted or "blended." It has been said that
the best tasting and most health promoting Stevia comes from Paraguay.
This is due to the rich, fertile soil, pure water and air, the long
hours of sunlight, and the expertise and knowledge of the Paraguayan
farmers in growing and processing the plants. Chinese Stevia products
have proven to be inferior in purity and some have been found to contain
high levels of pathogens. Stevia plants and seeds are available from
a few mail order nurseries in the United States for those that have
a green thumb or are adventurous and would like to grow their own.
The plants can be grown in pots or in the garden.
sweetener and flavor enhancer, Stevia is very useful for baking and
cooking because it is heat stable to 392° Fahrenheit and will
not degrade. It is also excellent in smoothies, tea, breakfast grains,
or sprinkled on vegetables and salads. It does have some limitations
and baking and cooking with these various forms may require some experimentation
to determine which forms and amounts suit your taste and recipes.
If you prefer to use the whole leaf products for the health benefits
and aren't bothered by the green color it conveys to foods, then use
those. If green is bothersome then use the stevioside products. Because
Stevia contains no sugar it cannot be used effectively in yeast breads,
as they require sugar in some form, to activate the yeast and Stevia
won't caramelize so can't be used for meringues. Baked goods containing
Stevia will not brown in the same manner as conventionally sweetened
cookies, muffins, and other baked items. The easiest way to judge
doneness is to stick a toothpick into the center to determine if the
item is sufficiently dry.
there been so much controversy concerning Stevia, a very useful herb
with such great health benefits? Stevia was used in the United States
in the 1980's as a sweetener. Celestial Seasonings, one of the world's
largest herbal tea companies used it as a flavoring in many of their
teas until 1986, when without warning the FDA raided their warehouse
and seized their entire stock of Stevia. The FDA gave no reason for
this action; the company was simply told they could no longer use
Stevia in their teas.
to the 1980's Stevia was on the FDA's GRAS (Generally Regarded as
Safe) list. Strangely, it was removed from that list at the same time
Aspartame entered the scene and saccharin was found to be a carcinogen.
In 1991 the FDA banned Stevia, claiming (as it still does) that it
was an "unsafe food additive," even though it has been used
extensively in South America, Japan, China, Germany, Malaysia, Israel,
and South Korea, and is available in many other countries. Stevia
extracts are used in the Far East as a sweetener in items produced
by American companies, such as Diet Coke and sugar free versions of
Wrigley's gum and Beatrice Foods Yogurts, as well as for its therapeutic
value. The FDA was forced to lift the ban on Stevia due to the Dietary
Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. Since that time Stevia
has been legal in the U.S., but only if specifically labeled as a
dietary supplement. It cannot be used commercially in food products
as a sweetener or labeled as a sweetener. In 1998, the FDA made a
raid on a Stevia producer located in Texas and attempted to burn all
of the books in their warehouse. One book relays the story of FDA's
suppression of Stevia and another is a cookbook, which makes use of
Stevia as a sweetener, not a supplement. There has been much speculation
about the FDA's actions and policies concerning this beneficial herb,
but evidence points to the very real probability that these things
are the result of lobbying pressure exerted by chemical companies
producing synthetic sugar substitutes.
because Stevia is so much sweeter than sugar, much less of it is required
in recipes. Below is a conversion table to help in determining the
proper amounts, followed by a couple recipes.
Stevia leaf powder
Stevia Extract (powder)
1 Cup cooked, mashed yams
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup shredded onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
Juice from 1 orange or blood orange
10 drops of whole leaf Stevia concentrate (or to taste)
at 375°. Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Form into balls
then flatten into 3-inch patties. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Ghee (clarified butter - use organic) works well for greasing the
pan, because it doesn't burn or stick. Bake patties for approximately
20 minutes, or until they are dry enough to turn over. Bake on second
side for an additional 20 minutes.
whole wheat flour
1 Cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1-12 teaspoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons Stevia powder
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4-cup soy or rice milk
1/4 cup oil
1 Medium apple, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup raisins
oven to 375°. Mix first seven ingredients thoroughly. In a separate
bowl mix remaining ingredients. Gradually mix dry ingredients into
moist ingredients. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake 25-30 minutes
or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center
Click here to visit a non-profit project dedicated to providing
accurate and credible information about stevia, the all-natural, zero-calorie
here to visit SugarFreeStevia.net,
another recommended site for detailed information about stevia. Be
sure to check out the recipes.
is available at most natural foods stores or can be purchased from
the following sources:
Natural Brands (Paraguayan Stevia & tea)
1203 W. San Pedro St.
Gilbert, AZ 85233
3040 Ridgewood Road
Atlanta, GA 30327
2220 West 2nd Avenue #1
Eugene, OR 97402
Botanical's (Paraguayan Stevia)
16 Rossi Ave.
Pawcatuck, CA 06379
7650 U.S. Hwy. 287, #100
Arlington, TX 76001
plants are available from:
Route 3, Box 93
Rogersville, MO 65742
357 Highway 47
Goodwood, Ontario L0C-1A0
(905) 640-6677 or (905) 640-6641
Sweep Herb Farm
205 Mt. Bethel Road
Port Murray, NJ 07865
The Stevia Story: A Tale of Incredible Sweetness & Intrigue Atlanta,
Georgia, B.E.D. Publications Company, 1997
James Stevia Overview http://www.fastlane.net/~kirkland/Stevia/notes.htm
(February 10, 1999)
Daniel, Ph.D., 1992 Life With Stevia: How Sweet It Is http://www.healthfree.com/herbgarden/stevlife.htm
(February 8, 1999)
David Stevia Rebaudiana: Nature's Sweet Secret Bloomingdale, Illinois,
Vital Health Publishing, 1996
(February 7, 1999)
Is… http://sweevia.com/whatis.html (February 7, 1999)
Stevia: from Herbal Advantage, Inc. Conversion Table http://www.herbaladvantage.com
(February 8, 1999)
Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to
the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.