Stevia: How Sweet it Really is

Q: What is stevia?

A:  Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana specifically, is an herb in the sunflower family. Stevia extracts are known to be incredibly sweet, having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar. So, it’s no surprise that it’s commonly referred to as the “sweet leaf” or “sugar leaf.”

Stevia: How Sweet it Really is

Your morning java is so much sweeter with a naturally derived sugar substitute. Bye-bye, excess calories. Hello, skinny jeans!

Q: What’s the difference between stevia and other sweeteners?

Sugar: The biggest difference between stevia and sugar is that stevia contains zero sugar and zero calories!  Unlike sugar, stevia has no affect on blood glucose levels, and does not promote fat storage within the body.

Sucralose: Sucralose (you might know it as Splenda) is made from sugar molecules, but it’s chemically modified to prevent your body from metabolizing the substance, which in turn keeps the calorie content at zero. The primary difference between stevia and sucralose is that stevia does not undergo any chemical modifications. It is simply extracted from its plant source.

Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that provides a taste and texture similar to sugar but has approximately 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. Even at that, it can’t compete with zero-calorie stevia.

Q: How can I use Stevia?

A: Stevia comes in a variety of forms, but it’s most commonly used in liquid form. You’ll even find liquid stevia in flavors from sweet vanilla and chocolate to the more tart lemon and orange. Stevia  powder  is also quite popular, which comes in packets that are small and convenient for those who are always on the go.  

Stevia can be used every day to replace sugar in your diet. Start by replacing the sugar in your morning tea or coffee with a few drops of stevia. Start off with just a drop or two and sweeten to taste. Keep in mind that stevia is incredibly sweet and potent. It can also be used to sweeten cold drinks such as lemonade or your favorite smoothies.

Stevia is also used in protein powders of all kinds, including whey, rice, pea, hemp  and    vegetarian. With so many great options out there, it may be time to kick the artificial sugars to the curb — once and for all!

This simple and delicious recipe below may help get your creative juices flowing and give you that one good excuse to make a change to your diet. Even better, you can whip this up in less than a minute!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding

Ingredients

1 cup plain, low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. raw cacao powder
1 Tbsp. Vitacost PBSlim Powdered Peanut Butter
1 tsp. chocolate liquid stevia

Directions: In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended. Add more stevia to achieve desired sweetness.

Got a question for our Vitacost.com product experts? Email  productinfo@vitacost.com.  

About Vitacost Product Experts

Health & wellness Q & A from Vitacost.com' product experts Matt Albretsen and Ryan Halvorsen. Submit your question at productinfo@vitacost.com

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7 comments on «Stevia: How Sweet it Really is»

  1. Sarah says:

    When I read this my jaw dropped! Stevia is very sweet but also extremely bitter. In order to make it palatable is goes through no less than a 40 step process developed by the Pepsi Company, who, by the way, used a loophole in congress to make the stuff legal. If you research back you will find that this has been around for years but was banned by the FDA because of health concerns, especially cancer in rats. So, it definitely is NOT natural (it is not extracted directly from the plant) and the verdict is still out on it’s safety. I personally try to avoid it because I don’t like to be a guinea pig for Pepsi Company and others who have no concern of our health and just want to make a buck.

    1. Debbie says:

      Thanks Sarah, did not know that about Pepsi, but logic sure implied to me that a green leaf that magically turns into a white powder is being chemically processed in some way(s). But I mainly don’t use Stevia because I don’t like the taste; I don’t understand why these products that are supposedly so much sweeter than sugar taste so bitter.

  2. Louise says:

    I grow my own stevia and eat it in a two step process in the summer. Pick it. Put it into my mouth. In the winter it is a three step process because I have had to dry it (air-dried on paper towels).

  3. Jaffy says:

    Sarah, when did Pepsi start using stevia in anything??? I think you’re thinking of sucrolose. I’d love to see the study that says stevia causes cancer. That’s simply one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Please do some more research. :)

  4. Marie says:

    Pretty sure Sarah is referring to a product called “Purevia” which is made by Pepsi. This is NOT true Stevia. Nor is “Truevia” made by Coke. Both contain far more sugar alcohols than they do Stevia. There are several good truly natural brands out there, but I swear by Sweet Leaf brand. It is Stevia and Inulin (plant fibers) – nothing more. And yeah, I wouldn’t lick it. It IS bitter taken straight and there are some things it is not a good substitute in (I tried cranberry sauce with it this past TG – never again). But in my daily iced tea, it’s great.

  5. Jason says:

    Jaffy: please reread what Sarah has said. She is stating that Pepsi had helped in the manufacture and/or promotion of this product. Also you are in error as both Pepsi and Coca-Cola have used this product in theis. Further, she is not stating that it does cause cancer. She is stating that it cause cancer in rats so that the jury is still out as to its safety.

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