Stevia – A sugar substitute!


Stevia is a naturally occurring sweeter, that is used as a substitute for table sugar. The fact that it is natural (organic) and derived from plants make it appealing, as compared to the artificial sweeteners (Read abt artificial sweeteners here – )

Stevia is derived from a plant called Stevia Rebaudiana (മധുര തുളസി) that is commonly seen in Latin American countries. However, recently they are widely cultivated – even in India!

The chemical compound that is responsible for the sweetness in these leaves, known as stevia-glycosides is extracted, processed and used as a Zero calorie sugar substitute. Stevia Glycosides are sweet in nature, however, the human body cannot metabolise it and hence they do not add any calories to the meal. They are also nearly 200 – 300 times sweeter than table sugar and hence just a little bit of stevia is enough to give the same amount of sweetness

Available in cubes, powder & liquid form, they do not induce a glycemic response from the body – meaning, the blood sugar levels do not increase even if one takes stevia-based sweets. This makes stevia a popular substitute for sugar among the diabetic population. The fact that it contains ZERO calories makes it a popular choice among the weight loss junta!

Additionally, they are heat stable, pH stable and does not ferment making it a popular choice for baking and cooking purposes for diabetic & weight loss requirement (as it saves calories)

Stevia, however, has a slight after taste which is sweet and bitter. This is why stevia is not always a great option for cooking/baking. However, based on the amount of processing done on stevia, each brand of stevia has an after taste in varying degrees. The stevia plant is also highly processed to extract the sweet glycoside compound.

The amount of processing is almost as much as the table sugar, that sometimes the “natural & organic” label of stevia is often questionable!

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