Today I would like to talk to you about Stevia, the natural sweetener with zero calories most used in the world.
It can safely replace sugar , does not get fat, does not increase blood sugar and is also suitable for diabetics. You can use it to sweeten drinks, but also to prepare sweet recipes, such as cakes, biscuits, or other baked goods.
Let’s see what it is, how it is so sweet and how to use it instead of sugar .
- What is Stevia .
- Sweetening properties of Stevia .
- Stevia: which to choose? Powder, liquid or extracts?
- How to use Stevia .
- Does Stevia hurt? Is it carcinogenic?
- Where to buy Stevia
1 – What is Stevia
The botanical name is Stevia Rebaudiana and it is a perennial plant native to Paraguay (South America), known and used for millennia by the Guarinì Indians, both as a natural sweetener and as a medicinal plant , or as a natural remedy for many ailments.
Due to its very high sweetening power – up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose (white sugar) – and due to the fact that it contains no calories, the use of Stevia as a sugar substitute has spread rapidly, first throughout South America, then in the USA and later also in Asia and Europe.
In recent years, after the many diatribes about the presumed dangerousness of this plant, more detailed studies have been carried out that, besides confirming its absolute harmlessness , have highlighted its numerous therapeutic properties, which could be useful in the treatment of very pathological diseases. diffuse such as hypertension and diabetes .
For more information on the properties and benefits of Stevia I recommend reading this article: The hidden properties of Stevia, much more than just a sweetener
2 – The sweetening properties of Stevia
How does Stevia to be so sweet, even though it does not contain sugars?
The secret of its sweetening power is given by its active ingredients: stevioside, rebaudioside A, rebaudioside C, dulcoside A.
They are above all the stevioside and the rebaudioside A that possess this sweetening power, respectively of 110-270 and 180-400 times higher than the sucrose, that is compared to the common white sugar.
These sweetening substances are present in all parts of the plant, but are more available and concentrated in the leaves, which, once dried, have a sweetening power much higher than sugar and all without bringing calories and without raising the glycemic index , characteristic that makes stevia also suitable for diabetics .
Not only that, there are numerous studies that show how Stevia is able to reduce glycemia , improving the sensitivity of cells to insulin and thus facilitating the entry of glucose into cells.
Finally it must be said that Stevia also has the property of increasing the sense of satiety , so it is particularly suitable for people with obesity problems, or overweight .
Stevia instead of sugar: here are the advantages
Using Stevia as an alternative to sugar , as well as a substitute for other sweeteners, even natural ones, such as honey, maple syrup or agave syrup, has certain advantages.
Let’s see specifically which:
- It is a 100% natural and vegetable product;
- It contains no calories;
- It does not raise the blood sugar (or rather it regulates it);
- It does not cause dental caries (on the contrary, it prevents it);
- It quenches hunger;
- A minimal amount of Stevia is enough to sweeten drinks and sweets;
- Withstands high temperatures and can be used to prepare baked goods;
It has a slight aftertaste of licorice that not everyone likes.
Diabetics taking insulin and hypertensive people taking drugs to reduce pressure should be careful with taking Stevia because they may experience hypoglycaemia and hypotension (ie, too low blood glucose levels, or too low blood pressure). ).
In these cases it is always better to seek the advice of your doctor.
For everything else, it is an absolutely safe product, also suitable for children and pregnant women .
3 – Stevia: which to choose? Powder, liquid or extracts?
Beware of rip-offs
On the market the Stevia can be found for sale in various formats , for example stevia powder, tablets, liquid, etc.
I urge you to pay attention to the cheats, because often what is passed off as “pure Stevia”, pure in reality it is not, and it is not even so natural .
To produce white powders, or tablets based on Stevia, what originally is nothing more than a seedling, is subjected to laborious chemical processes , with the ultimate purpose of extracting steviol glucosides (stevioside and rebaudioside A).
The end result of this process will be a refined product, whose nutraceutical properties have nothing to do with Stevia in its natural form .
Furthermore, it should be noted that most companies in Stevia sachets and powders add other ingredients and wholesome sweeteners, or whose provenance is totally obscure.
Looking at the labels of some well-known companies, besides the steviol glucosides, we can find one or more of these ingredients:
- silicon dioxide,
- magnesium stearate,
- sodium carboxymethylcellulose,
- natural flavors.
These substances serve to hide the licorice aftertaste of Stevia, to increase the volume and to reduce costs, all unfortunately to the detriment of the health of their customers .
If you are looking for a truly natural and healthy product, I strongly suggest you avoid products containing these ingredients.
If you really do not like Stevia’s licorice aftertaste, at this point you might as well opt for other natural sweeteners , such as organic and unpasteurized honey, coconut sugar, molasses, agave juice, or syrup maple.
With the word ” pure Stevia ” it should be understood (unfortunately it is not) only and only dried Stevia, reduced to powder, to be used as it is, that is to say its natural state .
It ‘a product difficult enough to find for sale in health food stores, or in pharmacies and certainly will not find it in supermarkets.
The easiest thing is to make it with your own plants of Stevia, collecting the leaves and drying them in the shade, in an airy place.
Alternatively you can try the Stevia produced by our farm, you can find it on this page , both in powder and dried leaves.
4 – How to use Stevia
Stevia is a natural sweetener that you can safely use as a sugar substitute:
- to sweeten drinks (for example tea and herbal teas)
- to prepare delicious jams without sugar .
- in the kitchen for the preparation of desserts, cakes or other baked goods .
Let’s see now how best to use and how to measure the Stevia.
The stevia to sweeten the drinks
To sweeten tea and herbal teas, or other hot drinks:
- dosages: a pinch of powdered stevia for a cup of hot water (or other beverage);
- add stevia to the hot liquid;
- let it rest 6-7 minutes and then drink.
I strongly advise against using stevia to sweeten coffee . In this case the taste is definitely bad. AA this point better to use brown sugar, or honey.
Stevia instead of sugar in desserts
With stevia you can also prepare delicious cakes, pies, biscuits, etc. It is all about knowing how to dose it.
In fact, I remind you that it is an extremely sweet substance and its quantity compared to sugar must be drastically lower, otherwise you may get a sweet that is inedible.
So let’s see how to use stevia instead of sugar in desserts in the correct way.
In this regard, below I leave you a recipe from which you can take inspiration to prepare your first cake stevia .
Apple pie with Stevia
Ingredients : 300 gr of wheat flour (you can replace it with a gluten-free flour, such as quinoa or buckwheat), 4 grams of stevia powder (about 2 teaspoons), 2 eggs, 3 apples, cinnamon powder as needed , salt to taste, a sachet of baking powder.
Procedure : In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the stevia powder and the oil. Continue until you get a frothy mixture and then add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Stir to mix the ingredients and then pour the mixture into a well oiled cake tin. Peel the three apples and remove them from the core. Cut them into slices and use them to cover the surface of the mixture. Finally bake everything at 180 ° C for 30 minutes. When the apple pie with stevia is cooked, let it cool.
5 – Does Stevia hurt? Is it carcinogenic?
Until a few years ago, Stevia’s sugar, at least in Europe, was considered a natural outlaw sweetener .
In fact, rumors were circulated, revealed to be totally unfounded , on the persevered toxicity of some of its active ingredients.
Items probably circulated by the same companies that are interested in making sugar, or other artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, not being supplanted by a natural product such as Stevia, which among other things can easily be cultivated in the garden, or in pots .
Fortunately, today it has been clarified once and for all that Stevia is neither toxic nor carcinogenic to humans .
This was confirmed by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), which in 2007 declared the total food safety of stevia.
And then the Efsa, the European Food Safety Authority, with the European Regulation 1131 of 2011, where it includes Stevia among the permitted additives, indicated in the nomenclature with the ” code E960, steviol glycosides “.
However it is always advisable to remember that the processes to which the leaves of Stevia are subjected, for the extraction of the sweetening principles, are not always natural.
In this regard, I always recommend paying attention to the labels when you buy a product based on Stevia, so as to ensure that, in addition to stevia, there are no other potentially harmful products, such as aspartame, acesulfame, maltodextrin and / or other elements not properly natural and far from healthy.
In any case, the best choice is always that of the pure product , that is the dried leaves of Stevia, or the powder obtained from the shredding of the dried leaves, possibly of biological and Italian origin !
In fact, I remember that Stevia is a plant that can be easily cultivated even in our country.
6 – Stevia, where you buy
Our farm grows plants of Stevia Rebaudiana in the period from late March to late October. After that the plant on the surface dies, and then grows spontaneously with the arrival of the following spring.
Our Stevia is cultivated organically , in our fields, in the countryside and in the open air, among the beautiful hills of Fermo (Marche region).
The leaves are then harvested and dried in a dry and shady place, to be then sold to the public, both as dry leaves and as Stevia powder.
You can buy our products here:
NB : All information published on this site is informative and should not be considered as advice, or medical prescriptions, or other.