STEVIA – Could Be A Sweetener To Use

The last few entries have had to do with other sweeteners such as Splenda, high fructose corn syrup and asparmatame. I decided to discuss these since these are very frequently used products that are found in our diet and we should really know how they affect our bodies. So, we have to discuss Stevia. This is a plant derived product that comes from the leaf of  a shrub called Stevia rebaudiana which comes from the sunflower family that is found primarily in South America. It has been used by the natives in around Paraguay and Brazil for over 1500 years. It has been used widely in South America for about 300 years. It is extremely popular in Japan especially for the last 20 years.  It was not until 2008 that the FDA approved stevia as a food additive but, prior to this allowed this as a food supplement. Yet the FDA approved aparmatame despite the problems with asparmatame. Hmmm….

The leaf itself is 30-45 times sweeter than sugar and in concentrated form is about 300 times sweeter than sugar. The glycosides that make up stevia are stable at high temperatures so it can be used in baking and cooking. There are no known bad side effects to stevia. However, stevia can reduce blood pressure and reduce blood glucose levels so patients taking medications for high blood pressure or diabetes should monitor their blood pressure and glucose levels more carefully. It has also been found that stevia inhibits the growth of different bacteria and may help with dental decay, gum problems and some intestinal problems. In 2008 the Cocoa- Cola company came out with their stevia containing product called Truvia and PepsiCo came out with their stevia product called Pure Via.

it is probably best to use unadulterated stevia and use in small amounts. Constantly stimulating your sweet tooth may cause you to want to consume more food. At this time someone who is pregnant or breast feeding may want to avoid this product to be on the safe side.

Dr. Reade