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Stevia
What You Should Know

Stevia is a perennial shrub of the aster family, stevia contains natural compounds-specifically, stevioside and rebaudioside A-that are estimated to be 150 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia sweetens without calories. While it tastes sweeter than honey, it's about as fattening as water. Advocates claim that the herb also offers a host of health benefits but there are some health concerns that you should know about to discern if this is a good choice of sweetener for you.

Choosing a stevia sweetener brand can make a big difference as to what is actually in it and how it was processed. The best way to get stevia is to use it in it's natural form (dried leaves). However, that is not terribly practical for most people and how they wish to use it. There are three ingredients that stevia manufacturers add that you may want to avoid.

  • Rebiana (a.k.a. Reb-A) is the trade name for a for high-purity rebaudioside that is processed using forty-two steps using such chemicals as methanol, acetonitrile, acetone, isopropanol, tert-butano and it is not pure stevia.

  • Maltodextrin is typically made from potato starch, corn and rice and has been deemed safe by the FDA as a food additive. It is basically a food filler that provides no nutrition may and may cause health issued for those who suffer from gluten intolerance. It can have the protein removed making it gluten free, so make sure to check the packaging to see if that has been done if you have gluten concerns.

  • Dextrose (a.k.a. dextroglucose) is the commercial name for crystalline glucose which is produced from starch. Dextrose is high on the glycemic index as it produces a rapid release of insulin into your bloodstream and has been determined to contribute to weight gain.


What to Look for in Stevia

There are a few brands that start with non GMO stevia leaves and then use cold water to extract the stevia. Examples of such brands are NuNaturals and Sweetleaf. If you really want to go natural you can always get the dried stevia leaves and put them in tea strainers to enjoy the sweetness in your beverages.


Health Warnings About Stevia

Stevia is generally safe for most people and that is why it has become such a popular natural sweetener. A benefit for most people is that it lowers blood pressure so for people that have high blood pressure this can be a great asset. However, for those with already low blood pressure this may cause problems in lowering it further. Signs of this include dizziness, fainting, head rushes and poor circulation.

Stevia can also cause allergies for those who are allergic to plants in the Asteraceae or Compositae family such as chrysanthemums, ragweed, marigolds, daisies and others. Allergic reactions can typically be seen in skin rashes and headaches.

Stevia also lowers blood sugar levels which can be a positive thing for health in some people, while in others it may interfere with blood sugar control.


Stevia Soda

The stevia soda that we found to taste fantastic is by:

  • Virgil’s Zero Sodas made by Reed's, Inc.
  • Zevia Soda made by Zevia

 

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