Sweet Facts You Should Know About Stevia

San Antonio TX. Did you know that more than 200 years ago, the Guaraní people from South America started adding dried stevia leaves to sweeten their traditional drink called yerba mate, as well as teas and medicine? They also chewed the leaves for their sweet taste. Today, stevia is grown in countries such as China, Kenya, Paraguay and the United States and its extract is currently taking off as a zero calorie sweetener of natural origin in foods and beverages all around the world.

 Stevia is also friendly with the environment. Since stevia is intensely sweet – according to the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), it can be up to 350 times sweeter than sugar – and is an extract, it typically requires only a fifth of the land and much less water to provide the same amount of sweetness as other mainstream sweeteners. For example in Kenya, stevia is typically grown only on a third of the land, with the rest of the land being devoted to other crops. So stevia may provide supplemental income to more commonplace crops.

The GIS says that if you have a green thumb you can also grow stevia right in your home garden. Just like any other herb or flowering plant. Wait until after all danger of frost has passed before planting. Stevia is a tender perennial that loves the warm sun and dies back in a freeze. However, in not so cold weathers, the roots usually survive the winter and will come back in the spring. In colder weathers it can overwinter with protection.

The sweet compounds that give stevia its sweetness are called steviol glycosides. To capture their sweetness for meals, steviol glycosides go through a process of extraction, filtration and dehydration. The stevia extract formed by steviol glycosides, after going through this purification process, is what is used as sweetener in foods and beverages. The crude extracts are not approved for use by Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

 Stevia extract adds a delicious sweet taste to food and beverages without adding calories because its steviol glycosides pass through the body without effect.

 Stevia is safe to consume for the whole family. Major global regulatory organizations have determined highly purified stevia extracts to be safe for consumption by the general population.

Swap a full calorie food or beverage for one that is partially or fully sweetened with stevia. You can choose from more than 5000 food and beverage products from around the world. You can identify them by their ingredient label which must say: stevia leaf extract; stevia extract; rebaudioside A; Reb A; or steviol glycosides.

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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.

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