There's no doubt you have noticed that a new eye-catching product has been invading the sweetener section of your supermarket: stevia. This superfood is a totally natural sweetening alternative to sugar, and it is even suitable for people suffering from diabetes.
Stevia is actually a plant that is now being used to sweeten our favourite dishes in a healthy way. It has become so popular thanks to its many health benefits, as it fights common diseases like hypertension or obesity.
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- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our selection: The best stevia products
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about stevia
- 4.1 What is stevia exactly?
- 4.2 What is stevia used for?
- 4.3 Is stevia a sugar substitute?
- 4.4 How many calories are present in stevia?
- 4.5 What are the health benefits of stevia?
- 4.6 Is stevia suitable for everyone?
- 4.7 What is the recommended dose of stevia?
- 4.8 In what forms is stevia available on the market?
- 5 Shopping Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Stevia can sweeten much more than table sugar, and it offers the fantastic advantage of not having any calories.
- This means that it is completely appropriate for a balanced diet. It is therefore a great way to reduce sugar intake without sacrificing taste.
- Unlike other species of plant, stevia cannot be consumed in its natural form. A chemical process is required to extract the steviol glycoside, the chemical compound used as sweetener.
Our selection: The best stevia products
The following section will introduce you to some of the best stevia supplements currently available on the market. If you learn to analyse the different characteristics of each product, you will know how to identify the one that best suits your needs.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about stevia
Stevia is one of those supplements that allow you to enjoy certain foods or drinks to the fullest without compromising your health. In fact, we do not consume the plant itself but rather an extracted compound called steviol glycoside.
What is stevia exactly?
Stevia is a plant with bright green leaves. However, this medicinal plant cannot be directly consumed: the sweetener that bears its name is actually a processed compound. The plant needs to go through a chemical process to obtain this element called steviol glycoside, which is what will then be used to sweeten food or drinks.
What is stevia used for?
Stevia is a natural sweetener that has managed to overcome other conventional sweeteners. This is in great part due to its calorie-free virtues (despite its very sweet taste), and the fact that it does not affect blood glucose levels. This is also the reason why it is even recommended for people suffering from diabetes.
Is stevia a sugar substitute?
Experts claim that stevia is 300 to 400 times sweeter than white sugar. It has gained a strong following since it does not influence blood sugar levels and has a captivating sweetness. Note that the aftertaste can be bitter, which may be uncomfortable for certain people.
How many calories are present in stevia?
This calorie-free quality has led stevia to be recommended as part of weight loss diets.
The lack of calorie in stevia also means that consumers do not have to sacrifice taste, and it has no effect on blood glucose levels. This is why stevia is an ideal substance for those who have dietary restrictions, and the satiating effect of its sweet taste is an additional advantage.
What are the health benefits of stevia?
And we can't emphasise enough on this: stevia has zero calories. Taking stevia in moderate quantity can even help alleviate blood pressure. Finally, this superfood is considered to be a powerful antioxidant.
Is stevia suitable for everyone?
Moreover, it is equally appropriate for people suffering from diabetes, hypertension or obesity. Stevia is even recommended for children and pregnant women.
Unlike most sweeteners, its use during weight loss diets is not contraindicated.
What is the recommended dose of stevia?
For practical purposes, let's assume that an adult can take between 4 and 5 tablespoons of stevia a day without any problem, which would be equivalent to about 70 grams of sugar.
In what forms is stevia available on the market?
Stevia in granulated form is the most commonly used, in great part because it allows consumers to adapt more quickly to this sugar substitute. These white powders are sprinkled or added with a spoon to drinks or food.
On the other hand, liquid stevia usually comes in a container with a dispenser. The label of the product itself should inform you of the recommended quantity. Two to three drops are generally enough to sweeten your coffee or tea. Stevia can also be found in tablets or capsules, although these forms are much less frequent.
Let's now have a look at some important criteria for buying stevia. These are the key factors you should pay attention to when selecting your stevia supplement:
Size of the container
This is one of the first things you should consider when buying a stevia supplement. In order to do so, there are several factors you will have to weigh, such as your personal use and frequency of ingestion. Remember that it may have an expiration date depending on the form it comes in, so we strongly suggest you choose an amount you know you will be able to consume within the given period.
It is always essential to take the time to analyse the ingredient table of any supplement. The plant extract called steviol glycoside must be the key ingredient, and you should search for the highest possible percentage of this extract. Other natural ingredients such as water or vegetable glycerine are usually present in stevia supplements.
It is naturally very important to see on the ingredient table if the product contains any additives or chemical preservatives, such as potassium sorbate, maltodextrin or ethanol. These different components can have, amongst others, preservative or sweetening functions. Note that these are all chemical, and the main goodness of stevia, which is to consume a natural product, will be lost.
This natural sweetener does not have any known side effects if consumed within the doses recommended by experts. This is why it is considered to be absolutely safe for our health. The only potential problem comes from products containing additives or artificial ingredients, which could be harmful.
There is no doubt that price is one of the top purchasing criteria. This is why you should carry out an extensive search to identify the most appropriate stevia supplement for you with the best quality/price ratio. This also includes researching for brands that are both the most reliable and affordable. Stevia can be considered somewhat expensive, and this is due to the fact that it is considered a relatively new superfood. However, that doesn't mean you won't find a product that suits both your needs and your budget.
Last but not least, you should always check the expiration date of the stevia supplement. Granulated stevia shouldn't be a worry because its shelf live is much longer than that of liquid stevia. For the latter, store it inside your refrigerator after opening and make sure to consume it before the expiry date, which is usually three months later.
As you have discovered in our article, stevia is a supplement known for its many benefits for our health. This is the reason why it has become the most popular sweetener; every day, more and more people are replacing sugar with stevia.
The high consumption of sugary foods and drinks is the cause of the upward trend in obesity and other disorders related to our metabolism. This has led to the appearance of natural substitutes like stevia, offering the same taste without endangering our health.
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(Source of featured image: Tsartsianidis: 15210071/ 123rf.com)