Stevia Looks Like Sugar, Tastes Like Sugar, Acts Like Sugar
Stevia – A natural sugar substitute with zero calories
Stevia is a remarkable plant that is native to South America. The indigenous people of the Americas have used stevia not only as a sweetener but also as a form of medicine for hundreds of years.
The leaves of the plant are an excellent source of intense and purely natural sweetness. Its really best known as a source of natural sweeteners and stevia is also used as a flavor enhancer. However what really makes it exceptional, is its totally calorie free. It may potentially help to fight the global obesity and diabetes epidemic. The sweeteners made from stevia are up to 200 times sweeter than refined table sugar.
Stevia has had a major impact on the food industry because unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is an entirely natural product. Industry and consumers alike are drawn to its sugar-like qualities, but with zero calories which equates to to zero guilt.
Major corporations now using Stevia
In Europe since 2011, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved stevia for consumption. The Coca Cola corporation at this time uses stevia in combination with other sweeteners in more than 25 products worldwide, such as fruit juice, sugar and other low and no calorie sweeteners. Sprite is the first drink in Ireland to contain new stevia-based sweetener it reduces the drinks sugar and calories without losing its refreshing lemon and lime taste.
Stevia comes in many forms
Fresh Stevia Leafs in it’s natural, unrefined state can be chewed and it will provide an extremely sweet taste sensation. For a more practical application as a sweetener for tea, the leaves must be dried or put through an extraction process.
Dried Leaves are considerably sweeter than fresh ones, and this form is commonly used in the production of herbal tea. Dried stevia leaf comes in bulk as well as packaged like tea bags or finely powdered, it has a greenish colour and can be used in a wide variety of foods and drinks, such as tea, coffee, and even cereals. It comes with a distinctive flavour similar to liquorice, which blends well with a variety of aromatic spices, which include ginger and cinnamon.
Stevia is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar
Stevia Extract is a white powder. In this form (by weight) is approximately 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. The white powder is an extract of the natural sweetening agents (glycosides) of the stevia leaf.
The stevia powder is so intensely sweet; it is recommended that a pinch should only be used in your tea, coffee or just about any other food. Once used, the product should be stored in the refrigerator.
Stevia is regarded as a much heather alternative option to refined sugar, when preparing tea a pinch of the dried stevia leaf can be added to the pot to make a lovely sweet tea.
Stevia is becoming more readily available in Ireland, in its dried and extract form. It can also be easily grown in your own home if you have a green finger.