Why is Stevia Zero Calorie?
San Antonio, TX. . Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener of natural origin, extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana. It has been used for more than 200 years by the Guaraní people from Brazil and Paraguay, to sweeten their local mate tea and as medicine. Currently the sweet compounds of the stevia plant can be extracted from the leaf and can be used in products to achieve a very similar taste of sucrose, but with no calorie intake. These sweet components within stevia leaves come from a group of compounds called steviol glycosides, which share a common steviol backbone.
Dr. Priscilla Samuel, from the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), states that stevia, as being zero calorie, is currently being used as a tool to reduce energy and sugar intake, which can contribute to reduce overweight. The GSI states that reason for stevia being zero calories is because steviol glycosides are poorly absorbed in the body and pass through the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and small intestines, fully intact. Once steviol glycosides reach the colon, gut bacteria hydrolyze steviol glycosides into steviol by snipping off their glucose units. Steviol is then absorbed via the portal vein and primarily metabolized by the liver forming steviol glucoronide, and then excreted in the urine. Several research studies on stevia have shown there is no accumulation of stevia (or any by-product of stevia) in the body during metabolism. Stevia has zero calories essentially due to this poor absorption in the digestive tract.
The stevia extract formed by steviol glycosides, after going through a purification process, is what food and beverage manufacturers use in their products. This process of purifying the glycosides gives stevia a more sugar-like taste compared to unprocessed crude stevia extracts. Importantly, the crude extracts are not approved for use by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The GSI states that stevia is available as a sole sweetener or blended with other zero calorie sweeteners. Often it is blended with sugar in reduced-calorie foods and beverages. This is the case of SVETIA® Calorie-Free Sweetener, which blends its main ingredient, stevia extract, with cane sugar as a bulking agent or carrier, which provides so few calories per serving that SVETIA® meets the Food and Drug Administration’s criteria for no-calorie foods (less than 5 calories per serving).
SVETIA® Calorie – Free Sweetener is made with cane sugar and stevia extract. One packet of SVETIA® contains only one gram of carbohydrates. People with diabetes are advised to check with their registered dietitian or physician.