Stevia powder is creating a stir among the health food community. It’s being used as a safe, tasty substitute for other artificial sweeteners, and has been used by South American natives for years to help many ailments. With benefits for those with diabetes (see the stevia diabetes review here), children, people trying to lose weight, and those who appreciate healthy natural food in general, it’s easy to see why this substance is so popular.
What is Stevia?
It is essentially an herb. The Stevia plant can be found growing wild as small shrubs in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. It’s cultivated in both these places, China, and Japan. It is used as a sweetener because of its leaves, which are often 10 to 15 times sweeter than sugar. Some Stevia extracts can be as much as 300 times sweeter than sugar!
Why isn’t Stevia Powder marketed with other sugar substitutes?
Is Stevia safe? The Powder remains classified as an “unapproved food additive” by the FDA. Although available in many countries, an import alert was issued in 1991 concerning Stevia. This made it nearly impossible to import or sell the herb in the United States. Competition with aspartame may have been one reason the FDA issued an alert about the powder. The FDA based the import alert on concerns raised by a preliminary study on this substance, but another study later that year showed the invalidity of the first. They then altered their stance on it, allowing it as a food supplement but not a sweetener.
How can I use?
The powder can be used for cooking, baking, and as a sugar substitute. Hundreds of Stevia recipes can be found on the internet. This benefit is particularly helpful for people with diabetes, people trying to lose weight, or anyone else who needs to watch their sugar intake. In Japan, is used in a number of dishes, like seafood and vegetables. It may be easier to use a liquid solution for some kinds of cooking, but this can easily be made by adding water to the powder.
Where is it available?
To find some Stevia, whether you’re looking for the liquid or powder form, a natural food store is the best place to go. Supermarkets and grocery stores typically don’t carry it. It’s worth the search though. The Powder is essentially calorie-free, sweeter than sugar, and can be used to replace sugar in almost any recipe. With so much sugar in our diets these days, it can only help to try out a healthy alternative like this.