What is Stevia?
As a sugar substitute, it is available as a concentrated liquid, crushed leaf or concentrated white powder. The liquid and leaf forms have a slight herbal overtone, which reminds some of anise (licorice). The greenish-black concentrated liquid is 70 times as sweet as sugar. Common uses include adding to milk to sweeten cereal, tea, coffee and hot chocolate. The liquid can also be used in baking, but can discolor light colored foods, such as yellow cakes.
The alternative health community has been waiting decades to have access to stevia in commercial food products. Stevia Rebaudiana is a no-calorie herb known for its incredible sweetness. It is a member of the Chrysanthemum family and it grows wild as a small shrub in Brazil and Paraguay. It has been used for centuries as a safe, natural sweetener.
Stevia has been studied extensively around the world and there have been no reports of negative side effects. In fact, stevia is safe for everyone, including diabetics, and is known to have the ability to balance the blood sugar and reduce the craving for sweets. Japan has been using it as the main sweetener in their food supply for many years.
Comparison with chemical sweetners:
Toxic artificial sweeteners have been consumed daily by millions of Americans over the past several generations. Numerous negative side effects have been documented in the thousands. These artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame, and more recently, sucralose have become a mainstay in the American diet. They have been used as additives in so many products, it is difficult to find any sweet foods that don't contain these toxic substances.
The problem has been that stevia has not been used in making commercial products due to pressure from the sugar and artificial sweetener industries. It has only been available to the public as a liquid or powder from health food stores, so most people have never even heard of it. The FDA's position in the 1990's would only allow stevia to be labeled as a food ingredient, not as a sweetener.
Where and what to buy?
If you want to use stevia as a sweetener, go to a health food store to buy it, or order it on the internet. There are several companies that make liquid and powdered versions. Some experimentation may be necessary to find the amount that suits you as a sweetener. If you use too much it may taste a little bitter.
It's a matter of personal preference. Less is sometimes better. I use the Sweet Leaf brand called SteviaClear and like it very much. I use 3-5 drops to sweeten my water bottles. I also use a couple of drops in cereal and protein shakes, on strawberries, and on anything else I want to sweeten.
The NOW Company also makes a good product.
The FDA just released a letter affirming that the stevia preparation by the Cargill Company, known as Truvia is generally recognized as safe for use as a general purpose sweetener. Coca-Cola Co. and Cargill have developed the new no-calorie sweetener called Truvia. It will be available on the market very soon.
Although, I am sure these companies are more concerned with their bottom line than our health, I believe this new product will be a huge improvement over the toxic artificial sweeteners that have been used so abundantly in our food supply.
As the public becomes more aware that a safer, great tasting, no-calorie, no-carb, healthy alternative is now commercially available, I'm sure the food industry will start using stevia in more products.
Now's Stevia Extract
Wisdom Herbs SteviaPlus