Stevia is an herb found in South America (specifically Paraguay) that has been used as a natural sweetener for at least 1500 years. The leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant have zero calories, carbs and a zero glycemic index. It is also about 30 times sweeter than table sugar. Studies have shown that these leaves also contain other nutrients such as protein, fiber, carbs, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A and C, and other oils as well. The sweet glycosides in the leaves do not break down in heat, which makes this a desirable sweetener to use in cooking/baking.
Stevia has been around for many years, and is probably one of the safest sweeteners on the market. Since it boasts a zero glycemic index, it is safe for even diabetics and hypoglycemic to ingest. People with weight problems, blood pressure or blood sugar problems can generally use this sweetener without any problem. Since our body cannot metabolize the sweet glycosides from the leaves, no calories are absorbed from the sweetener. Research shows that Stevia can help to regulate and balance blood sugar. Other studies have shown that Stevia can help to lower blood pressure, without affecting normal blood pressure. It also can prevent growth/reproduction of certain bad bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. People have reported significant oral health improvement when adding Stevia concentrate to their toothpaste or using it as a mouthwash when diluted with water. Other reported benefits of Stevia use are improved digestion, GI function, soothing upset stomachs and quicker recovery from illness.
Stevia is considered to be a great aid in weight loss, because it has no calories, and also can curb cravings for fatty foods and sweets. Hunger pains are reduced when 10-15 drops of Stevia concentrate are ingested about 20 minutes before eating. Evidence shows that Stevia may actually “reset” the hunger signals in our bodies by interrupting the...