Questions and Answers
Q) What is Stevia?
A) Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb in the Chrysanthemum family which grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves, including up to 10% Stevioside, account for its incredible sweetness, making it unique among the nearly 300 species of Stevia plants.
There are indications that Stevia (or Ca-he-he) has been used to sweeten a native beverage called mate since Pre-Columbian times. However, a Natural Scientist names Antonio Bertoni first recorded its usage by native tribes in 1887.
Q) Is Stevia safe?
A) Stevia is an all-natural herbal product with centuries of safe usage by native Indians in Paraguay. It has been thoroughly tested in dozens of tests around the world and found to be completely non-toxic. It has also been consumed safely in massive quantities (Thousands of tonnes annually) for over the past twenty years.
Q) Can Stevia replace sugar in the diet?
A) Yes. Refined sugar is virtually devoid of nutritional benefits and, at best, represents empty calories in the diet. At worst, it has been implicated in numerous degenerative diseases. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar and has none of sugar's unhealthy drawbacks.
Q) How sweet is Stevia?
A) The crude Stevia leaves and herbal powder (green) are reported to be 10-15 times sweeter than table sugar. The refined extracts of Stevia called steviosides (a white powder, 85-95% Steviosides) claim to be 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. My experience is that the herbal powder is very sweet while the refined extract is incredibly sweet and needs to be diluted to be properly used.
Q) Can Stevia replace artificial sweeteners in the diet?
A) Yes!. Stevia offers a safe, all-natural, alternative to these "toxic time-bombs." And industrial usage in Japan proves that this substitution is both practical and economical.
Q) How many calories are in Stevia?
A) Virtually none. And the refined Stevia extracts are considered to be non-caloric.
Q) Will Stevia raise my blood sugar levels?
A) Not at all. In fact, according to some research, it may actually lower blood sugar levels. However, this research has yet to be confirmed and contradictory results make any conclusions premature.
Q) Can I use Stevia if I am diabetic?
A) Diabetes is a medical condition which should be monitored and treated by a qualified physician or health care practitioner. However, Stevia can be a part of a healthy diet for anyone with blood sugar problems since it does not raise blood sugar levels. If in doubt, ask your doctor.
Q) Can I combine Stevia with other sweeteners?
A) Most certainly. However, sweeteners in general should be used in moderation in a balanced healthy diet. And refined and artificial sweeteners should be avoided altogether.
Q) Will Stevia harm my teeth?
A) Apparently not. Two tests conducted by Purdue University's Dental Science Research Group have concluded that Stevioside is both fluo-ride compatible and "significantly" inhibits the development of plaque, thus Stevia may actually help to prevent cavities.
Q) Can Stevia be used in cooking and baking?
A) Absolutely! Industrial research in Japan has shown that Stevia and Stevioside extracts are extremely heat stable in a variety of everyday cooking and baking situations.
Q) Does Stevia contain vitamins and minerals?
A) Raw herbal Stevia contains nearly one hundred identified phytonutrients and volatile oils, including trace amounts of Rutin (from the Callus) and B-Sitosterol (from the leaves). However, in the quantities typically consumed, the nutritive benefits will be negligible. The extracts of Stevia, being more refined, will contain far fewer of these phytonutrients and volatile oils.
Q) How are Stevia extracts prepared?
A) Extracts of Stevia leaves can be prepared by a number of methods some of which are patented. One researcher states: "Production of Stevioside involves water extraction from the dried leaves, followed by clarification and crystalization processes. Most commercial processes consist of water extraction, decoloration, and purification using ion-exchange resins, electrolytic techniques, or precipitating agents."
Q) What can’t I do with Stevia?
A) Stevia does not caramelize as sugar does. Meringues may also be difficult since Stevia does not brown or crystalize as sugar does.
Q) Will Stevia change the color of my food?
A) The green herbal powder may impart a slight amount of color to your food, depending on how much is used. If you are concerned about color, you should use the white powdered extract or a similar "clear" liquid extract of Stevia.
Q) Where can I buy Stevia herbal powder and extract?
A) At your local natural food store. As Stevia gains consumer acceptance, it is also beginning to appear in supermarkets and grocery stores, generally in its refined form.