Stevia has a long history as a Natural sweetener. Honey leaf, Caa-ehe, Azuca-caa, Kaa-he-e and Ca-a-yupe are just a few of the names Stevia goes by. Most of these names, in one way or another, draw attention to the sweet, nectar-like flavour of the leaf.

Stevia is a native plant to Paraguay and has been used there for hundreds of years by the Guarai Indians mainly as a sweetener but also as a medicine or snack. The plant is estimated to be 150-300 times sweeter than refined sugar. The stevia leaf also contains various vitamins, namely vitamin A and C, Zinc, Rutin, Magnesium and Iron. In China stevia has been used since 1985.

The natural unrefined state of stevia is as an herb. It is a leaf picked from a stevia plant and when chewed will impart an extremely sweet taste sensation reminiscent of licorice that lasts for quite a while. For stevia to have a more practical application as a tea or sweetener, the leaves must be dried or put through an extraction process, which makes the sweet taste even more potent.

Health benefits:

There have been many studies regarding the safety and medicinal use on stevia. A Taiwanese study published in 2002 at Taipei Medical University shows the possibility of use for blood pressure regulation by lowering the blood pressure.

  • People who use stevia have reported to have had lower incidences of cold and flu.
  • Natural therapists have been using stevia for many years to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • According to a report on Australia’s Broadcaster in 2002 the herb can be made into drops and added to meals to regulate Glucose levels.
  • Jenny Hawke stated that in her interview with Brian Marley, a natural therapist with a background in biochemistry, from Brisbane Australia uses stevia on patients saying that it “Assists the liver in controlling blood sugar levels in the body.” He also says that refined sugar has a negative effect on the liver and can cause chronic fatigue and immune deficiency syndrome. Stevia can help kill sugar cravings and avoiding the negative effects of sugar.
  • Another article later in 2002 from Nihon University shows that stevia can be considered as an alternative therapy for Hypertension. Stevia can also aid weight loss by reducing appetite and can be used to help suppress tabacco and alcohol cravings.
  • Two recent studies by Jeppen et al, From Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark have found that Stevia could have potential in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. For many years in South America Stevia has been suggested as treatment for diabetes. It has also been suggested that it can help people reduce the use of insulin.
Use in food preparation:

Stevia is a heat stable sweetener and may be used in baking.  Stevia has been used in Japan to sweeten soy sauce, pickles and soft drinks. A drop of stevia can sweeten a large amount of food or liquid.

Stevia has been proven to have many benefits and has been used for many years to sweeten food in a healthier way.

Written by Lee-at Joel, 29 October 2018

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