I lost five pounds in five days when I switched from a Stevia sweetener to pure Stevia extract sold by a health food store.
Confused? I was too. So at the urging from a friend I researched Stevia.
When I did the research I was surprised, even angered, but I couldn’t be happier about the ultimate outcome. I have new knowledge– I now buy Stevia products without guessing about its true contents or if I’m making a healthy choice.
Stevia is the genus name for over 240 species of best Coconut Sugar brands herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family native to North and South America. The most widely known species of Stevia is Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni. Although used for centuries by indigenous peoples the little sweet white flowered herb was first cataloged by a botanist, Bertoni, in 1887 in Paraguay.
The name Stevia is pronounced, stÄ-vÄ-É, -vyÉ. In South America it is commonly known as yerba dolce (sweet herb). For centuries the native’s called it “sweet leaf” and “honey leaf.”
Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni’s leaves are the coveted part of the herb because they contain several distinct glycosides, the intense sugary sweetness that distinguishes it from all the other Stevia species. Glycosides are just glucose (simple sugar) molecules bonded to non-glucose molecules. Stevia’s glycosides are unique and are appropriately named, steviol glycosides.
GLYCOSIDES MEDICATIONS AND STEVIA
Many medications originate in plant glycosides. Many plants bond their unique chemicals in glycosides and store them. Humans extract these glycosides, then separate the glucose and chemicals in various ways, then use the chemicals as medications. In the case of Stevia, we have extracted the glycosides to use as a sweetener. The extracted steviol glycosides from the Stevia leaf have no calories, no carbs, no effect on blood sugar levels, is PH stable, resistant to fermentation and is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.
Modern Stevia manufacturers have begun treating Stevia like a medicine; they are making “purified” extractions from Stevia’s steviol glycosides extract.
STEVIA’S HEALTHY POTENTIAL
Medical research conducted on various pure Stevia extracts showed promise for treating obesity, hypertension, high blood pressure, inflammation, insulin efficiency, cellular immunity and nutrition, and healthy cell growth. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concludes that Stevia could also be a rich source of antioxidants and may protect against DNA damage and cancer. Purdue University’s Dental Science Research Group concluded after two studies that Stevia “significantly” inhibits the development of plaque and may help to prevent cavities.
HOW STEVIA BECOMES A SUPPLEMENT / SWEETENER
Today, companies make and sell Stevia in three different forms:
(1) dried leaves finely ground into a powder,
(2) steviol glycosides extracted with water from the dried leaves, or
(3) breaking down the natural steviol glycoside structure into primary compounds. The two most desired primary compounds are Stevioside and Rebaudioside A (Reb A). These patented extraction processes vary, but generally most commercial processes use a proprietary combination of water filtration, solvent filtration (ethanol or methanol ), nano filtration, decolorizing agent, adsorption chromatography, ion-exchange resins, electrolytic techniques, microwaves, and precipitating agents. Industry literature and company websites call their patented extraction processes “purification.”