Stevia, the green sugar

The green sugar is a natural sweeter and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of a perennial herb, native to Paraguay and Brazil, called Stevia rebaudiana. Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni discovered this plant in Paraguay back in 1887. Japan started marketing it as a sweetener almost 40 years ago, when other chemical sweeteners were banned. The active compounds of stevia are stevioside and rebaudioside A (Reb A), which are 150-400 times sweeter than sugar. These steviol glycosides are not processed by human enzymes, therefore stevia has zero calories.

The extract of the leaves of stevia has numerous benefits:
– it is natural, safe and non-toxic;
– has zero calories;
– has zero glycemic index (GI);
– contributes to healthy glucoregulation (it is used for the treatment and nutrition of diabetic persons because has a negligible effect on blood glucose);
– it is useful for those who are following a carbohydrate-controlled diet, or for those who are overweight/obese;
– contributes to a healthy blood pressure regulation;
– is an effective antioxidant;
– has chemoprotective, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antiviral effects on human health;
– provides immune system support;
– there are no known allergies to stevia;
– it doesn’t have side effects;
– it is used in inflammatory bowel disease’s treatment;
– prevents dental caries;
– the taste of stevia has a lower onset and a longer duration then that of sugar (at high concentrations may have a bitter or licorice-like after taste);
– everyone can use it, including children or pregnant women;
– is heat stable (can be used at baking or cooking – the sugar from the recipe is replaced with stevia sweetener), pH stable and not fermentable.

The daily intake level should be no more then 4 mg/kg/day. This product is available as crystalline powder, effervescent tablets for coffee or tea, or as liquid sweetener.

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