Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb from the Chrysanthemum family. It's commonly known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf or simply stevia. This sweet leafed herb grows wild as a small shrub in Paraguay and Brazil, where it's been used for hundreds of years, to sweeten foods.
The "candy leaf" stevia species is native to New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.
Raw Stevia is unlike other sugar substitutes. It's gaining popularity on the market as a natural sugar substitute.
True stevia rebaudiana is green, not white. It has a sweet taste. High concentrations can be bitter, with a licorice type of after taste. Stevia has no calories, no carbohydrates and a zero glycemic index. It's 10 - 15 times sweeter than sugar. High stevia extracts are 200 - 300 times sweeter than sugar! Use stevia sparingly! Stevia can come in powder, liquid or granulated forms.
True stevia is highly nutritive with fiber, phosphorous, iron, protein, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, vitamins C and A.
SKIN CARE BENEFITS and CAUTIONS
Active components in the stevia leaf are believed to contain healing enzymes, beneficial for skin. Since it doesn't interfere with hormonal activity, it's less likely to contribute to acne break-outs than regular sugar. Stevia has been known to tighten skin, reducing wrinkles. Caution, a skin rash may be an allergic reaction. In this case, consult your physician.
Stevia is used to make commercial and homemade skin care products. These homemade lip balms, (shown right), have a bit of sweetness due to stevia. It's so highly concentrated, it only takes a miniscule amount for added sweetness. Stevia is inexpensive and found in grocery stores.
REAL STEVIA vs. FAKE STEVIA
Are you really getting true, pure, raw stevia? The market is flooded with fake stevia. Look at ingredient labels. Do you see added ingredients and hidden sugars? There's nothing pure or natural about fake stevia. Do you see substances like dextrose or erythritol added?
Dextrose is derived from genetically engineered corn. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol. It occurs naturally in grapes, melons, mushrooms and fermented foods; wine, beer or cheese. At the industrial level, they're genetically derived with a long manufacturing process.
Highly refined stevia extract, Truvia, is a non-nutritive sweetener. Some say it helps reduce weight, but there's no real evidence. It may cause side effects like bloating or nausea. The 40 step process used to make Truvia should cause you to steer clear of it.
WHAT DOES THE FDA SAY?
Political controversy surrounds stevia. In 1991, it was banned by the FDA deeming it as an unsafe food additive. It was believed this ruling was in response from the pressure of the artificial sweetener industry. It remained banned until 1994, when it was approved as a "dietary supplement", but not as a food additive. Whole leaf stevia and crude stevia extracts have not been approved by the FDA, as "food additives", due to possible health concerns; controlling blood sugar, kidneys, reproductive, renal and cardiovascular systems. December 2008 stevia was granted "GRAS", (generally recognized as safe), status by the FDA.
CAUTIONS to CONSIDER
-- Stevia may cause low blood pressure. Those taking blood pressure medications should consult your doctor before using stevia.
-- Stevia can interact with medications: anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-viral, appetite suppressants, cholesterol lowering and other medications.
-- Consult your health care provider, if in doubt, before using stevia.
Maybe you'd like to grow your own stevia at home. Watch video below to learn tips for growing stevia. Watch a second video sharing homemade recipes. Learn how to make powder and liquid stevia at home.
TIPS FOR GROWING STEVIA REBAUDIANA
HOW TO MAKE PURE, POWDERED AND LIQUID, STEVIA AT HOME!