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Stevia: a practical guide to reduce sugar in your life with this plant

It is worth mentioning that this article does not replace a medical or nutritional consultation, it is only a guide to learn about some benefits and uses of stevia based on scientific evidence. When in doubt, always consult your doctor or nutritionist. Let’s continue.

There are several “replacements” for sugar. In fact, many people replace the sugar per panela, thinking that it is healthier or that it is less caloric; And it is not like that. Panela and sugar are basically the same. Where they differ is that panela has a less refining process than sugar, but it does not make it a safe replacement for people with diabetes or who do not want extra calories. Then we have honeys, such as bee, agave, maple, etc. You are also have calories and the glycemic index (the impact of food on blood glucose) of these will vary according to their origin. The one with a lower glycemic index are agave and cabuya honeys.

In the world of sweeteners there are caloric and acaloric (those that do not have calories). They can also be classified into natural and artificial sweeteners. The latter still generate controversy if they are totally safe or if they affect the intestinal microbiota.

On this occasion, we will talk about the steviaa natural and non-caloric sweetener, to which several benefits have been attributed and which is so sold by the food industry that we will find it in many varieties.

Stevia seems to be a safe sweetener since it does not generate toxicity or increase the desire to eat.

the sweet plant

The stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is obtained from a shrub native to the northeast of Paraguay, where it was called ka’a-hée (sweet herb). In 1887, it was introduced to Europe, and it was not until 1889 that it was described and classified by the Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago Bert. This plant also grows in Brazil, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

Currently, more than 200 types of stevia are known, however, Stevia rebaudiana is the most popular, the most studied and the only one that, because it has stevioside compounds, works very well as a sweetener. Today, it is being cultivated in Canada, the United States, China, Korea and Mexico.

The stevia It has no calories and has no effect on blood sugar, which makes it an ideal sweetener for people who have diabetes or who are on a weight loss regimen.

Some papers suggest that it could have other health benefits such as controlling hypertension, preventing liver damage or leveling the sugar in blood, however, they are still not conclusive because their hypotheses have been tested in rats or in very small populations, and more studies are needed to confirm it. In the meantime, we can conclude that it is safe and globally accepted as a non-caloric sweetener that will not raise blood sugar. In the case of children, pregnant and lactating women, the recommendation will always be to avoid sweeteners and prefer the natural sugar from fruits.

Use of stevia

The stevia It can be used in baking, cooking or simply to sweeten drinks. Currently, we can find stevia in powder, in pills, in a dropper, in a leaf, and among other varieties. Each of them fulfills a function in the world of cooking. For example, powdered stevia works well to sweeten drinks, desserts, among others. The pills only go well with drinks. Stevia drops are perfect for desserts because they dissolve quite well in the mix.

Stevia can be used in confectionery.

If you are looking for something more natural, you can buy stevia leaves and make your own stevia powder. stevia. Many people prefer this because this way they avoid the refinement process that is used in the other presentations and since many times, the stevia is combined with other artificial or natural sweeteners.

forms of presentationUse of stevia in gastronomy and food industry
fresh leavesThey are used in sauces and infusions, they become between 15 and 30 times sweeter than sugar. When chewed, it leaves a licorice flavor and a slight bitterness at the end.
Dry leavesIt is used for infusions or to prepare liquid extracts. They are 10 to 15 times sweeter than sucrose.
leaves ground into powderThey can be found loose and in greenish tea bags, used as a flavor enhancer and as a sweetener in tea, salads, fruit, coffee, etc. Ground stevia leaves do not dissolve
dark extractConcentrated dark green syrup made from dried leaves based on water and alcohol. It has a sweetening power 70 times higher than sugar. Enhances the flavors of food. It is used to sweeten drinks
clear extractA translucent white solution of stevioside crystals dissolved in water, alcohol, or glycerin. It is used to sweeten drinks and desserts.
tabletsThey dissolve quickly. They usually contain steviosides along with other ingredients. Used as beverage sweeteners

(Table adapted from Stevia (Rebaudiana) as a caloric sweetener”)

Our recommendation is that when you buy your stevia, read the label and verify that it does not have other caloric sweeteners that could increase the sugar in blood. For example, maltodextrin is a caloric sweetener, and many times it comes with stevia in the same bottle.

Something important to mention is that there are still ethical problems in the food industry about this product, especially when making it a powder or extract, therefore, it is important that when buying it, it is always with a sanitary registry.

Now that you know the pros and cons of stevia, you can decide to use it in the preparation of your favorite drinks and desserts.

Source: Elcomercio

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