Q:What is Stevia?
A:Stevia Rebaudiana is an herb which grows wild as a small shrub in parts
of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves, including up to 10% Stevioside, account for its incredible sweetness,
making it unique among the nearly 300 species of Stevia plants.
There are indications that Stevia (or Ca-he-he) has been used to sweeten a native beverage called mate since Pre-Columbian times. However, a Natural Scientist names Antonio Bertoni first recorded its usage by native tribes in 1887.
Q:Where is Stevia cultivated?
A:Mainly in Paraguay, Brazil, Japan and China. There are other growers scattered across the Pacific Rim. Stevia is also being cultivated in Southern Ontario and Mexico. Surprisingly, it has been successfully grown in California and the South of England as well.
Q:Can Stevia replace sugar in the diet?
A:Yes. Refined sugar is devoid of nutritional benefits and, at best, represents empty calories in the diet. At worst, it has been implicated in numerous degenerative diseases. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar and has none of sugar's unhealthy drawbacks.
Q:How sweet is Stevia?
A:The crude Stevia leaves and herbal powder (green) are reported to be 10-15 times sweeter than table sugar. The refined extracts of Stevia called steviosides (a white powder, 85-95% Steviosides) claim to be 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar.
Q:Can Stevia replace artificial sweeteners in the diet?
A:Yes! Stevia offers a safe, all-natural, alternative to the artificial sweeteners (toxic time-bombs). Industrial usage in Japan proves that this substitution is both practical and economical.
Q:How many calories are in Stevia?
A:Virtually none. And the refined Stevia extracts are considered to be non-caloric.
Q:Will Stevia raise my blood sugar levels?
A:) Not at all. In fact, according to some research, it may actually lower blood sugar levels.
Q:Will Stevia harm my teeth?
A:Apparently not. Two tests conducted by Purdue University's Dental Science Research Group have concluded that Stevioside is both fluo-ride compatible and "significantly" inhibits the development of plaque, thus Stevia may actually help to prevent cavities.
Q:Can Stevia be used in cooking and baking?
A:Yes! Industrial research in Japan has shown that Stevia and Stevioside extracts are extremely heat stable in a variety of everyday cooking and baking situations.
Q:How are Stevia extracts prepared?
A:Extracts of Stevia leaves can be prepared by a number of methods some of which are patented. One researcher states: "Production of Stevioside involves water extraction from the dried leaves, followed by clarification and crystalization processes. Most commercial processes consist of water extraction, decoloration, and purification using ion-exchange resins, electrolytic techniques, or precipitating agents."
Q:What can't I do with Stevia?
A:Stevia does not caramelize as sugar does. Meringues may also be difficult since Stevia does not brown or crystalize as sugar does. If you need to use a sweetener that crystalizes, I recommend pure, raw honey.