Stevia - Natural Zero Calorie Sweetener

Stevia is a natural sweetener prepared from a green leafy plant stevia rebaudiana. Stevia is becoming popular all over the globe as it is a natural and safe sweetener. It contains no calories and is suitable for people suffering from diabetes. The leaves of wild Stevia plants contain many different types of natural glycoside ingredients which include dulcoside A & B, rebaudiosides A-E, steviolbioside and stevioside. These ingredients are held responsible for producing sweet taste.

The sweet nature of stevia is free from any calories and it provides 200-300 times sweeter taste than table sugar. It does not cause dental caries or plaque. Extracts from the leaf of the Stevia plant have been found to be high in antioxidants that prevent the DNA damage that leads to cancer, according to an Indian study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Stevia extracts were found to contain a variety of antioxidants including apigenin, kaempferol and quercitrin. Stevia has also shown anti-hypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-diarrheal, anti-tumor, diuretic and immunomodulatory effects in many studies.

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO), jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published the “Safety Evaluation of certain food additives” that included steviol glycosides, which is naturally found in stevia. According to the WHO report, there are ten different glycosides naturally found in plants responsible to provide sugar, the major ingredients are stevioside and rebaudioside A.

Health benefits of Stevia
Stevia is used as low calorie, low carbohydrate natural sweetener for food and drinks as well as in the treatment of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Increase intake of table sugar is one of the major causes of obesity. It is found that people who eat more carbohydrates or take table sugar in their diet become fat quickly. This happens due to the fact that carbohydrate is easily digestible and person eating a high carbohydrate diet start feeling hungry in a short period of time after eating food. This leads to overeating and increased weight. Stevia has been used as a natural sweetener by the people who want to remain fit and want to avoid table sugar. This is a natural zero calorie sweetener and does not promote obesity.

High blood pressure
Stevia also has shown health benefits for people with hypertension or high blood pressure. Stevia is used as a popular herb for controlling high blood pressure.

Studies have shown that stevia has beneficial effects in diabetic rats. It helps the beta cells of the pancreas to secrete more insulin. A study comparing sucrose, aspartame and Stevia revealed that Stevia reduced both blood glucose and insulin after a meal compared to the other two sweeteners.

High cholesterol
Studies show that intake of stevia also helps in reducing the levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins) and helps in increasing the amount of HDL (high density lipoproteins).

Among natural sweeteners, stevia is considered to be the best as it is safe as compare to other natural sweeteners.

Note: Sometimes, a bitter taste comes up after using the food products with stevia sweetener. The bitter taste occurs due to the presence of tannins and flavonoids. These similar types of constituents are found in tea and coffee that produce bitter taste in them.