Stevia has properties and benefits that have been made known by all possible means, especially the last decade, it is an herb that can sweeten better than sugar and is healthy for diabetics and people who are on a diet. Know all the uses of stevia, and how you can take advantage of it in the kitchen.
Stevia (Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni), also known as stevia, is a natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners obtained from a woody shrub native to Paraguay and Brazil. It has been used since ancient times, as a sweetener and curative herb by the indigenous people of the Guarani, and in countries like Japan, today, it accounts for 41% of the sweeteners consumed.
Definition of stevia and general data
The rebaudiana (scientific name), pertenecea the sunflower family. The leaves, used properly, are a natural supply of sweetener that, in addition to not generating calories, tends to be sweeter than sucrose, the white sugar.
Stevia is a genus of plants in the Asteraceae family, comprising approximately 240 species. They are found mainly in South America and Central America. It includes around 240 species, including Stevia rebaudiana used to sweeten drinks and dishes, and it is the medicinal herb that we will talk about in this article.
Steviol glycoside crystals are obtained from stevia leaves (Latin: Stevia rebaudiana). To do this, the leaves of this plant are placed under water for a week. The aqueous solution thus obtained is purified and dried until obtaining crystals of steviol glycosides.
Steviol glycosides have a sweetness 200-300 times higher than sugar (sucrose), with a calorific value equal to zero.
They have been used in South America for hundreds of years to sweeten beverages and foods. As of December 2, 2011, steviol glycosides are authorized in the European Union as a food sweetener.
In the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, steviol glycosides have been accepted as sweeteners since 2008. As in Japan, Korea, Brazil, and many other countries, steviol glycosides are approved for use in foods.
The consumption of Stevia, which is currently considered the best substitute for sugars, has been expanding significantly in the world, which is attributable to the fact that its sweetening power is much greater than that generated by white sugar.
What are the properties of stevia?
Stevia is attributed nutritional and medicinal properties due to its content of minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, trace elements and volatile oils, from which a wide range of nutritional and therapeutic benefits is opened.
Among the nutritional benefits, the most common is to sweeten, but today stevia is found in powdered presentation, in syrups, granules, in leaves for infusion and even in pills, which are used in different foods and beverages as a nutritional supplement.
This product can be used for therapeutic purposes, as well as for cooking without its components being affected by temperatures, a condition that other sweeteners do not have.
As already mentioned, this powerful herb not only serves to sweeten, but stevia has benefits that make it a medicinal plant that can help in various aspects of human well-being.
1. Stevia as an ally for those suffering from diabetes
The reason sugar is so bad for diabetics is because it contains large amounts of carbohydrates. In order to illustrate which types of foods are suitable for diabetics and which are not, a system called the " glycemic index " was developed.
What can be summed up from this system is that types of foods with a glycemic index value of less than 50 are considered relatively safe for diabetics; the lower the number, the better.
To give you an idea: apples have a GI of 39. French fries have a GI of 95, refined white sugar has a GI of 80. However, stevia has a GI of 0 (yes, zero); This makes the stevia leaf ideal for maintaining stable blood sugar levels and preventing the symptoms of diabetes from compromising health and we do not have to miss out on the sweet taste in our meals.
The "steviosides" reduce excess glucose in the blood by up to 35%, enhance insulin production and increase the resistance of this substance, being considered as a companion for the improvement of the regulation of diabetes.
2. Consume stevia to lose weight
Different researches affirm that stevia can be beneficial if you want to lose weight or keep it under control.
These studies estimate that stevia would act on the functions of the hypothalamus, which control appetite and fatigue.
3. Antioxidant and anticancer properties
Polyphenol compounds, mainly flavonoids, are responsible for the antioxidant activity of plants. Numerous in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that the introduction of stevia leaves into the diet can positively affect glucose metabolism.
According to recent studies, steviol, a colonic metabolite of this natural sweetener and also a component in stevia rebaudiana bertoni leaves, was found to possess intensive anti-cancer activity on gastrointestinal cancer cells. Steviol strongly inhibited six human gastrointestinal cancer cells as did 5-fluorouracil at 100 µg / mL.
4. The benefits of heartburn and indigestion
The stevia leaf, as an infusion, has been used for centuries in the populations of origin, to calm discomfort and heartburn, to attack indigestion and improve gastrointestinal function.
So, drinking an infusion of stevia leaves after meals is therapeutic and pleasant for the good digestive process, relieving burning and the feeling of heaviness.
5. Benefits against hypertension
Stevioside and stevia extract have a vasodilator, diuretic and cardiotonic effect, thus helping to regulate the heartbeat and pressure.
For generations, the native tribes of South America have been using stevia to sweeten their beverages. Aside from the sweetness that is achieved, they have also been using it to lower blood pressure in people suffering from hypertension.
Today, doctors prescribe its consumption to help control high blood pressure. Numerous tests have shown that stevia does not cause hypotension in healthy individuals.
6. The antibacterial effect
Stevioside, one of the main glycosides found in stevia leaves, protects teeth against cavities. It is not conducive to the development of microorganisms responsible for this disease.
This sweetener ends up canceling the development of this microbial flora. It is recommended to prepare an infusion and rinse or gargle, in addition to its routine consumption as an infusion.
The extracts of this plant are also a potential inhibitor of antrotaviruses, they have strong bactericidal properties against a wide range of microorganisms. In addition to the antibacterial properties, the extracts of this plant also have the ability to inhibit the growth of yeast and fungi.
7. Effective to fight against candidiasis
Candida albicans is present in the intestines of all humans. However, in some people, this population of yeast can grow excessively large and that is when an infection called "yeast infection" occurs, causing symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
The main culprit of candidiasis is the fermentation of sugar in the intestine, and therefore many of the candida diets are based on the elimination of sucrose from a person's eating patterns.
Stevia cannot be fermented by candida albicans and does not promote yeast infection, so it must be perfectly safe to substitute stevia for sugar for people with this condition. Always consult your doctor before modifying your diet however, and be careful to use pure stevia only. Some commercially available brands add inulin or maltodextrin to their products: substances that should be avoided when you are prone to yeast infection.
Now we know the reasons why this natural sweetener has been so widely used for years. By finding out about all the benefits of stevia, you can convince yourself of the gift of nature, that more than a food, it is an ally to boost your health and quality of life.
Presentation of stevia
· In leaves: used as tea (in bags) or mixed with other herbs as a sweetener. In some countries it is sold in powder form or in sachets like tea. Thus, it sweetens 30 times more than sugar.
· Concentrated aqueous solution of stevia: here we have a very practical way to take it since with 2 drops in the infusion there is more than enough. Sweetens, in this concentration, 70 times more than sugar.
· Stevioside concentrate: here we will only take this active ingredient isolated from the plant that increases its ability to sweeten (300 times more than sugar) but deprives us of the rest of the medicinal properties of stevia. It usually comes in the form of a white powder.
Nutritional information for stevia
Dried stevia leaves contain approximately 42% water-soluble substances (that is why it sweetens more when mixed with liquids).
The most important active principle is Stevioside. It also contains protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, zinc, vitamin A and C.
It can be found in service stores, health food stores, health food stores and herbalists. Always make sure it is green powder stevia, not white, since the latter goes through bleaching processes that are harmful to health and remove its true properties.
Benefits of stevia as a natural sweetener
The natural sweetener, derived from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, is available in many forms. The most popular are white (refined) and green (organic) powder extract, but you can also buy dried stevia leaves, liquid stevia extract, or as small pellets to sweeten coffee.
Advances have brought with them various products for human consumption, but none can be compared to natural foods that often replace manufactured or chemically treated products.
One of these super remedies or options is stevia, a supply capable of providing our body with different benefits that must be highlighted and specified.
The sweetener stevia naturally differs from sugar in many ways, and there are several reasons why stevia is a better choice than sucrose, if you 're diabetic or are you just looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
1. Stevia is very powerful
The raw leaves of the stevia plant are approximately 40 to 30 times sweeter than sugar, and the powdered sweetener derived from them is up to 200-300 times sweeter. What this means is that just a little stevia will suffice for most of your sugar-free recipes. The shelf life of the sweet leaf is around 5 years so it is certainly a good investment.
2. It has no calories
Refined sugar is very harmful to health, considered one of the 5 white poisons. Sucrose contains a lot of calories and there are so many sugary products today that it has become almost a full-time task to avoid them. As a consequence, 34% of adults in America are obese, and for our children - who are being exposed to sugar from a very young age - that figure is 17%.
These alarming levels are three times higher than they were thirty years ago. Luckily, the stevia sweetener has no calories at all. While it is by no means a weight loss product, the benefits of stevia and its enormous potential in this area are obvious.
3. Stevia helps suppress cravings
As we all know, sugar is addictive. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose may not have any calories or glycemic index, but they still don't help suppress your cravings for sugary sweets.
On top of that, an increasing number of consumers in recent years have reported negative side effects when using artificial sweeteners, ranging from headaches and dizziness to rashes and stomach-aches.
Stevia, on the other hand, in addition to being a natural sweetener, can help suppress cravings without causing side effects.
Did you know that stevia has been approved as a sweetener in Japan since the 1970s, and is now the most widely used sweetener there, with a market share of over 40%? And all this without any reports of side effects
4. It's good for your teeth
When refined white sugar is consumed, an adhesive layer of bacteria forms on the teeth, causing dental plaque to form and causing cavities in the long term. So-called "polyols" such as erythritol, maltitol, and sorbitol are popular ingredients in chewing gums and toothpastes to prevent dental bacteria from sticking to teeth.
However, there is a downside to these products: they contain a lot of calories and some of them still have a high glycemic index which is harmful for diabetics. In addition to that, they cause bloating and intestinal gas in individuals who are sensitive to them. But stevia has the same benefits as polyols, and it doesn't produce any of their unpleasant effects.
Does stevia have no contraindications?
Regarding side effects or contraindications, it has been shown by repeated investigations that the purified extract of the stevia leaf does not present risks in its use in food for the general population, nor for those who suffer from diabetes.
The habitual consumption of stevia as a substitute for sugars, advances gradually, but consistently in the developed world. Japan has been consuming it for more than four decades, the US began in 2008 and Europe as of 2011. Between the aforementioned dates there was a 400% increase in the addition of stevia in numerous commercial products and in home-prepared foods.
Is stevia the perfect sweetener?
The researchers, although they recommend the preferential use of stevia over any other sweetener, in an effort to improve dietary health, they also state that more years of research are required in order to measure the long-term effects, determine if its composition affects the alteration of hormones that activate brain function.
The new option for healthy sweets
All or almost the entire range of industrial foods (with exceptions such as those aimed at patients with diabetes), contain as an addition of white sugar in yogurts, chocolates and even beer, soft drinks, sweets, breads, sauces, jams, salads, and stop from count, even medications mostly have added sugar.
We all know to a greater or lesser extent the effects of sugar on our bodies. And how difficult it is to leave her!
The EFSA, European Food Safety Authority, recommends the use of stevia as a maximum dose of 4.5 mg / K / day of stevia; in general, an adult person weighing about 75 kg could consume up to 300 mg approximately per day.
The first thing on the way to natural gum growth is to know the root cause of the problem. In 80% cases, gum recession is brought on by some gum disease. And gum disease is an effect of harmful bacteria residing in the warm and moist environment of our mouth. It is the perfect environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply extremely fast.