Stevia is the herbaceous plant family with more than 200 species growing in the tropical and sub-tropical America, mostly Central and South and some parts of North. Stevia plant is evergreen shrub with soft green deeply veined leaves, that contains large amounts (up to 5% in dry weight) of stevioside – a sweetener estimated to be 300 times as sweet as sugar. Stevia the sweetener is regarded as the Stevia rebaudiana, both plant and leaves, which can be grown and used with or as tea (traditionally, it was paired with the yerba mate in many parts of South America) or powdered and dried as sugar substitute. It is not too difficult to grow, and with a very sweet raw leaf.
Influence On Body And Health
The Stevia plant is generally referred as sweet leaf, sweet leaf or sugar leaf in different countries as per different languages. The plant derives these names as it has been traditionally used as a natural sweetener by the people in many countries. However, it is now becoming popular in a many countries due to the fact that it is a natural substitute to the artificial sweeteners. It is also employed as a dietary supplement in many countries. The Stevia plants have shown positive effect on the patients suffering from hypertension and obesity. It has been a magical item for all those diabetic patients and people who were on diet control and who were dependent on the artificial sweeteners. It has also been claimed that Stevia has the capability of increasing or enhancing the blood glucose tolerance in the body. The plant is very useful and feature rich. It is being cultivated in a host of countries with China being the largest producer and exporter of Stevia plants.
Stevia can also help in weight loss because it does not have calories. This is a very good thing because there are millions of people struggling to lose weight today. It will help in reducing your craving for fatty and sweet foods which can give you excess weight. It is also a very good thing for people suffering from hypertension.
– Dried leaves can be crushed / ground into a green powder that is about 10 to 20 times sweeter than sugar.
– Ground Stevia powder can be converted into a syrup by dissolving 1 teaspoon of the powder into 2 cups of water.
– Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, lower the heat and simmer until it has been reduced to a slightly thick syrup.
– After the liquid cooled down, it can be poured into a small bottle and stored in the fridge.
– Stevia enhances the flavor of lemon, tomato and fruit, gives a creamier texture to homemade ice cream and remains stable when combined with acidic food.
– High temperatures does not destroy Stevia’s sweetening properties.
– Use in hot dishes/ baked foods.
– Stevia’s sweetness is more noticeable when used with neutral/mild flavored foods and is not as apparent in strong/bitter-tasting foods like coffee and cocoa.