Stevia, originally from Paraguay (ka’a he’e or “the sweet herb” in Guaraní), is a plant of the sunflower family and has become one of the crops with the greatest potential in the world. Stevia has a sweetening capacity equivalent to 300 times that of sugar, its properties are unique in the world.
Stevia is a sweet plant that has been used for millennia to sweeten foods and, also, a plant with medicinal properties.
Nowadays, the use of artificial sweeteners is very common, since it is a tendency to consume foods that are promoted as “the healthiest” for our body. But we must be able to recognize the truths and lies of these, as they are found in most products that claim to be “light.”
Among the most commercial are: Splenda (Sucralose), Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfame. When consuming them, it has been possible to show an increase in craving for sweets and carbohydrates, which causes you to eat more during the day and hinder weight loss. Also, they can lead to high insulin levels, which consequently causes your body to store fat.
To introduce changes in your diet, you should always have the supervision of a specialist doctor. If you are hypotensive, your doctor will surely recommend other options.
Although the negative effects are not entirely scientifically proven, they are said to be allegedly responsible for the following conditions:
- Some are related to potential cancer risks.
- Negative effects on the kidneys, liver and other organs.
- They stimulate anxiety.
- Gastrointestinal disorders.
- Developmental problems in fetuses and children.
What is the best sweetener?
Among the best options we can choose Stevia Rebaudiana, a herbaceous shrub from which the sweetener that can be used safely and regularly is obtained.
Stevia is native to the Amambay mountain range between Paraguay and Brazil and was consumed by the Guaraní Indians before the arrival of the Spanish, which is why it can be said that it is one of the oldest sweeteners on record. This plant can be consumed in liquid, granulated form and as a dry powdered leaf.
From various sectors, the use that large industrial corporations are making of stevia has been denounced , since they are supposedly selling stevia sweeteners, when they contain only 1% of Stevia and the remaining 99% is Erythritol.
In this report by Miquel Figueroa, the farmer Josep Pàmies exposes his experience with Stevia, how we can cultivate it in our own home, as well as the problems of its supposed legalization in Europe.
Among the therapeutic properties of Stevia are:
- It has 0 calories, it is totally caloric.
- Benefits people with hypertension, Stevia acts as a hypotensive and cardiotonic, that is, it regulates blood pressure and stimulates the heartbeat.
- Stevia is vasodilator, which means that it increases the diameter of the blood vessels, consequently it improves circulation and is of great help for people suffering from diseases of vascular origin.
- This plant is ideal for diabetics, as its composition allows it to be a fairly healthy substitute for sugar.
- Stevia has antibiotic properties, the leaves of this plant provide antibacterial protection against bacteria of the oral mucosa and fungi, such as vaginal Candidiasis. Additionally, it is used in toothpastes and gum because its use helps prevent cavities.
- In addition, people who consume Stevia are less prone to colds and flu.
- It is also used as a healing and antiseptic in wounds and burns.
- Advisable to lose weight since it reduces anxiety about food (take 10 to 15 drops 20 minutes before meals) and by regulating insulin the body stores less fat.
- Stevia reduces the desire or appetite for sweets and fats.
- Enhances the aroma of infusions or food where it is added.
- It can help in the detoxification of tobacco and alcohol, since stevia tea reduces the desire for these two toxins.
- Prevents and inhibits the reproduction of bacteria and infectious organisms.
- Stevia leaf is between 30 and 45 times sweeter than sugar.
- It is more advisable for food use or for cooking since at high temperatures, it is more stable than the rest of sweeteners.
It is well documented that consumption of Stevia counteracts fatigue and, as it tastes sweet and has no calories, it helps to lose weight and reduce cravings for high sugar foods. This is in addition to its favorable effects on fat absorption, and also that it can serve as an antacid.
Stevia facilitates digestion, so it is recommended for people who suffer from gastrointestinal problems; It is a mild diuretic and helps lower uric acid levels.
To attack the effects of aging, Stevia also acts as a powerful antioxidant, about seven times more powerful than green tea. In its liquid form, it is used for aesthetic skin treatments, as it helps to tighten the skin, smooth out wrinkles, and help heal skin blemishes, including acne.
In addition, its sweet flavor is very pleasing to the palate and is more durable than that of sugar. Small portions are recommended because it is 300 times sweeter than sugar. You can add it to your sweet dishes and use it daily in a moderate way, without any contraindication. It will give you a feeling of well-being and will bring many benefits to your health.
Stevia leaf concentrate in aqueous liquid base is very useful as a cosmetic. When applied as a face mask, it effectively tightens and smoothes the skin, tightens wrinkles, and aids in the cure of various skin problems, including acne, seborrhea, dermatitis, and eczema.
Presentation of stevia.
You can find stevia in several formats:
- In leaves: they are used as tea or mixed with other herbs as a sweetener. In some countries it is sold in powder form or in sachets like tea. Thus, it sweetens 30 times more than sugar.
- Concentrated aqueous solution of stevia: here we have a very practical way to take it since with 2 drops in the infusion it sweetens there is more than enough. Sweetens, in this concentration, 70 times more than sugar.
- Stevioside Concentrate: here we will only take this active principle isolated from the plant that increases its ability to sweeten (200 times more than sugar) but deprives us of the rest of the medicinal properties of stevia. It usually comes in the form of a white powder.
Nutritional information for stevia.
Dried stevia leaves contain 42% water-soluble substances. The most important active principle is Stevioside. It also contains protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, zinc, rutin, vitamin A and C.
How to grow Stevia.
Stevia is a plant of tropical origin so it has a different behavior from the natural one in Mediterranean climates. Therefore, the multi-year plant can sprout 4-5 years.
Every spring it starts again with force, sprouting new and numerous shoots from under the roots. From spring to mid-August, it can be reproduced by cuttings. With this system, a Stevia plant can be made from 200 to 500 plants, cutting during the entire vegetative time. If you want to grow stevia, I recommend this manual.
Stevia rebaudiana became known outside of Paraguay when a Swiss botanist named Moisés Santiago Bertoni discovered it in 1887. He learned about its use as a sweetener and medicinal plant.
The wisdom about stevia belongs to the Guaraní people.
Although today this high-purity additive (E-960) extracted from stevia can be found anywhere on the planet and in thousands of processed foods, the truth is that the wild stevia plant is practically extinct.
In the 1970s, two Japanese scientific expeditions reached the hometown of stevia and brought 500,000 wild plants to Japan. The business was on.
Today, it is a business that multinationals have taken over.
Remember to consult with your doctor before starting any treatment with medicinal plants.