The Natural Sweetener Stevia Plant And Its Health Benefits

About Stevia

Stevia is a genus of about 240 plants, herbs and shrubs, belonging to the sunflower family, Asteraceae. These plants are native to South America Central America and Mexico.

Some common names for stevia are : sugar leaf, sweet leaf, honey leaf etc. In India, it is called "meethi patti' meaning sweet leaf. Stevia plant is mainly grown for its sweet leaves and being a natural sweetener, stevia is a healthy replacement for chemical sweeteners like splenda, aspartame and saccharine, even the common table sugar.


Stevia

stevia leaf powder
stevia leaf powder | Source

Stevia Around The World

Stevia plant is widely grown in Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela and Paraguay. Stevia has been used in Venezuela for over 1500 years and the Guarani tribes of Paraguay have used stevia since centuries to sweeten unpalatable medicinal drinks. It has also been used in Japan for several decades now. The European Union approved its use as a sweetener in 2011.

In the U.S. and Canada stevia is available labelled as a dietary supplement.

Whole leaf stevia and crude stevia extracts are not permitted by the FDA to be used as food additives in view of their safety to health notably in the area of effects on the cardiovascular, reproductive and renal system and control of blood sugar.

Some products like Truvia and PureVia containing the glycoside rebaudioside A, which is obtained from the stevia plant, have been cleared as a food additive.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2006 declared that Stevioside and Rebaudioside A are not genotoxic in vitro and in vivo and that the genotoxicity of Steviol and some of its oxidative derivatives in vitro, is not expressed in vivo.

Stevia has also been used as a natural sweetener in many other countries like China, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Israel etc since decades and many research papers have been published around the world regarding the safety of stevia.


Stevia Plant, Leaves And Tablets

Click thumbnail to view full-size
the stevia plantdry stevia leavesstevia in tablet form
the stevia plant
the stevia plant | Source
dry stevia leaves
dry stevia leaves | Source
stevia in tablet form
stevia in tablet form | Source

About Stevia Plant And Leaves

Stevia is a small shrub about 2 to 3 feet in height and of the about 240 odd species, only Stevia rebaudiana possesses the natural sweetness which is a distinguishing characteristic of stevia.

Stevia leaves are 30 times sweeter than sugar while the leaf extract rebaudioside A is 300 times sweeter than sugar. The leaves contain 2 glycosides of which Stevioside comprises 10-20% and Rebaudioside A comprises 1-3%.

Stevia rebaudiana is the most lucrative herbal plant that gives great returns in commercial cultivation and is the most cultivated species.

The glycosides, Stevioside and Rebaudioside impart the sweet taste. When these are consumed the Rebaudioside is converted to Stevioside and this is broken down into glucose and Steviol. The glucose is used by the bacterial in the colon while the Steviol that cannot be digested further is passed out of the body without being absorbed.



Health Benefits Of Stevia

Some of the health benefits of stevia are given below :

  • Stevia has anti hyperglycemic, anti hypertensive, anti inflammatory, anti tumor, anti diarrheal, diuretic and immuno modulatory properties. It also has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  • Calorie and carbohydrate free making it an excellent choice for diabetics and those wishing to control their weight.
  • Rich in nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, chromium, zinc, riboflavin and protein.
  • Very stable at high temperatures of even 100 degrees Centigrade, over a broad range of pH from 3 to 9 and is non fermentative.
  • Has hardly any effect on blood glucose levels when consumed while it it may even enhance glucose tolerance.
  • Has zero glycemic index as compared to 70 for sugar and 80 for artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Equal, Sweet N Low, etc.
  • The leaves contain many sterols and antioxidant compounds like triterpenes, flavonoids and tannins. It contains kaempferol and this nutrient has been found to reduce the risk of cancer and this has been reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
  • The chlorogenic acid prevents conversion of glycogen into glucose as well as decreases the absorption of glucose in the digestive tract making stevia effective in reducing blood sugar levels.
  • Stevia can lower blood pressure due to its glycosides some of which dilate the blood vessels and also increase sodium and urine excretion.
  • Stevia prevents cavities and tooth decay as being a non carbohydrate sweetener, the Streptococcus mutans bacteria, the causative organism, finds the environment unfriendly for its growth.
    Certain compounds found in stevia inhibit these bacteria as well.
  • Stevia also heals cuts and wounds more rapidly without leaving scars, improves digestion, increases energy levels and mental acuity.


Stevia Availabilty

Stevia is not available in the sweetener section but in the supplement section and one can buy it in the health food stores too.

Fresh stevia leaves when chewed have an extremely sweet taste reminiscent of liquorice. The dried leaves are more sweeter in taste than fresh leaves and this form is used to prepare herbal tea. Drying and powdering the leaves helps to draw out more of the flavor and sweet taste from the leaves. The powdered leaves can be used in foods and beverages.

Stevia is also available in the form of a white powdered extract. In this form it is the sweetest. It is also available in liquid concentrate form that is made by various methods.



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4.9 out of 5 stars from 13 ratings of The Natural Sweetener Stevia And Its Health Benefits

Disclaimer

The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.


References

  • http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/166/8/924
  • http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/9241660546_eng.pdf
  • http://steviacultivation.blogspot.in/
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia
  • http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Transparency/Basics/ucm214864.htm
  • http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/stevia-plant.html
  • http://healing.about.com/cs/herbaltherapy/a/stevia.htm
  • http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2006/9241660546_eng.pdf
  • http://www.steviabenefits.org/index.html
  • http://www.stevia.com/Stevia_Article.aspx?Id=2269


Growing Stevia from Seed

What Is Stevia and its benefits

How to Make a Stevia Liquid Extract

How to Make Your Own Pure Stevia and Liquid Stevia

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

More by this Author


Comments 42 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Very interesting information. I wish we had this plant here where I live. I would definitely use it as a sweetener. Well done once again my friend.

blessings always,

bill


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I was told to cut back on my sugar intake three months ago and switched to stevia. I bought the drops and used it in my coffee and tea. I noticed shortly after using it I got bad headaches. I think it was because I was using too much of it so I cut back to one drop per cup and found that the headaches stopped. I didn't know that it could lower blood pressure. I'll have to have my Dr. check my blood pressure next time I see him as I have low blood pressure to start with. Glad to know all the health benefits to using stevia.

Voted up, useful and interesting.


wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 3 years ago from Alabama

I have a definite sweet tooth. Stevia is beckoning me.

Thanks for the great info on this.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

An interesting and informative Hub on the Stevia plant I always look forward to reading something new from you


Suzie HQ profile image

Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi Rajan,

How appropriate you should choose this subject, Stevia. I have included the ingredient in my new mouthwash recipes hub and in the mouthwash list of ingredients so would love to link this informative work of yours to them! This is great for all the benefits and history of this sugar substitute.

Voted up, useful, interesting, shared and pinned!


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

I am particularly interested in Stevia as we bought some stock. I know it has a slight bitter taste, but what great benefits it possesses. Going to vote this up and pin....As always Rajan a great job.


Vickiw 3 years ago

I have no doubt that this has numerous health benefits, but it is so sweet, and has that artificial sort of flavour that I have never been able to come to terms with. Strange, because I know it isn't artificial. Maybe it is the extraction process!


hawaiianodysseus profile image

hawaiianodysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

Hi, Rajan!

Wonderful hub! We have Stevia in packets, similar to sugar packets, and now that I know more about it, I'll be sure to use it more often. Your information, as usual, is invaluable and timely.

Aloha, my friend!

Joe


mercuryservices profile image

mercuryservices 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

Stevia is the sweet cure.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@Bill-unfortunately, stevia doesn't grow in too cold a climate. I appreciate your visit and comments, my friend. Have a nice day!

@Susan-I believe a few drops a day will not affect the blood pressure much but it's always good to get a check up done. Thanks for reading and commenting.

@WND-glad you liked the info. Thanks for visiting.

@Devika-thanks for being a regular supporter of my hubs. It is always good to see you.

@Suzie-the linking to my hub would be an honor. I'll be checking out this hub of yours. I appreciate your visit, votes and sharing. Thanks.

@Carol-glad you came across this hub at just the right time. Thanks for the visit, vote and pinning.

@Vicki-maybe, we have been so conditioned to the taste of sugar! Thanks for stopping by.

@Joe-thanks for the comments and I'm glad you'll be using it more often. Aloha, my friend.

@Alex-thanks for the visit.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

I have some Stevia in my pantry. I use it all the time. I'm trying to stay away from all the other sweetners. Voted up five stars and share.


Que Scout profile image

Que Scout 3 years ago from Sydney Australia

The Australian Pepsi Next is sweetened using an extract from stevia and has no artificial sweeteners. It is marketed as having "30% less sugar".

Pepsi Cola is too sweet any day of the week but when they released Next with stevia it tasted better.

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepsi_Next

And from Pepsi themselves see http://www.schweppesaustralia.com.au/Our-Brands/Pe...


Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

I have used Stevia Sweetner. It is very, sweet and has a taste of it's own. Great hub on the Stevia Plant.


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and useful. Another informative and interesting hub. Wish we could grow this plant here. Passing this on.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

I use only pure organic stevia grown in the U.S., available in powder (for hot beverages) and liquid (for cold and for cooking). The human palate can become accustomed to a new taste within two weeks. I like stevia, particularly because I know it's healthier for me than alternatives. Too many people seem unaware (though it's publicized) that sugar causes health problems, and chemical sweetners, such as aspartame and even sucralose, have dangers.

When buying stevia, don't trust the products by Coca-Cola (Truvia) or PepsiCo (Purevia), or Stevia in the Raw, all of which contain unhealthy fillers. These companies only climbed on the stevia bandwagon for profit, not to help people maintain health. The first two companies contributed millions to pay for false advertising and confuse California voters to help defeat the proposition that would lead to labeling GMOs, so that tells you how unethical they are!

Terrific hub, Rajan Jolly, and thanks for the reference links (though I don't trust ANYTHING from the FDA, which is a corrupt agency controlled by a former Monsanto attorney and dedicated to protecting the interests of Big Business, NOT consumers!) Okay--I'll climb down off my soapbox! : )

Voted Up++ and shared.

Jaye


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

Wonderful information. Good to have another natural alternative to aspartame.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

I was talking just the other day with a friend who would like to bake one of my sweet bread recipes but she is diabetic and has to avoid sugar. Will be sending this hub to her as well as sharing it with my followers. Interesting to note all of the other health benefits associated with this plant. Up, useful and interesting votes and will also pin.


Sonya-Artis profile image

Sonya-Artis 3 years ago from Kansas City, MO/Ft. Lauderdale, FL

I will try this. Based on what Susan said above, I will start slow and small. Thank you for this article.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

Thanks for highlighting this herb with interesting info for people who are not familiar with it.

We especially like this sweetener with fruit drinks or recipes that use fruit as a main ingredient. I love it in most teas, but not my coffee!

I've had good success growing it and was glad to see how easily it reseeds itself in our area for new plants the next year.


StephSev108 profile image

StephSev108 3 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thank you for a great Hub!


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

This is very interesting, and I bet many people are going to view this one! Stevia is a popular subject. I always get confused which sweetener is which, but at least now I'll remember Stevia is one of the more natural ones. It's great that a sweetener can be made from a plant. Thanks for sharing this with us, Rajan. I enjoyed reading it.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@moonlake-glad to know you are using this stevia. Thanks for the read and share.

@Que Scout-thanks for the links and read.

@Nithya-good to know you use stevia. Thanks.

@Rasma-thanks for stopping by and sharing.

@Jaye-I certainly appreciate your visit and thanks for the useful comments. Appreciate the sharing.

@Flourish Anyway-glad you like the info. Thanks.

@Peggy-thanks for the votes and sharing. As you can see Jaye has a lot of good to say about stevia.

@Sonya-it's better to always makes changes slowly and progress further. Thanks.

@RTalloni-good to learn that you've been growing it and also using it. Thanks for the visit and comments.

@StephSev-thanks.

@Kathryn-glad you like the info and I appreciate your comments. Thanks.


tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

Lots of interesting information. I did buy some powdered stevia at one time but I don't think I ever used it. I was interested in using it in baking, but didn't really try it out. A bit interested in Pepsi Next which we don't get here, but I see Jay Wisdom isn't convinced.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

tebo, Jaye is right! these processed stevia sweeteners have added fillers which detract from the full benefits of stevia. I'd rather use the powdered leaves or buy organic stevia.

It's good to see you here and my thanks for stopping by.


alifeofdesign profile image

alifeofdesign 3 years ago from New Hamphire

Rajan, I have never eaten stevia and was curious about it. I'm pleased that I saw your hub - it was informative.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Graham, I'm glad you like the info presented here and also that you came across this when you needed it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

So packed with valuable information as I have come to expect with your articles! How to make one's own is so interesting and useful. Where to buy this product. I'm wondering how one might use it as a substitute in baking since it is measured by the pinch rather than the spoonful . .

Voted up, interesting, useful, and will share!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Forgot to mention that I gave you 5 more stars, too!


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Rajan, I have been using the Stevia sweetner for years, and I love it. I have not purchased regular sugar in at least 25 years.

This is a great hub, Rajan.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@Au fait-thanks for your appreciation. I think a bit of trial and error method will give you an estimate of how much stevia to use. I certainly appreciate both your visit and comments and of course the votes and sharing. It's good to see you again.

@Shyron-This is a very useful input and will pretty much help those readers who are in a dilemma whether to use stevia or not. Thanks so much and I much appreciate your visit and comments.


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago

Rajan, I forgot to mention that I purchase Sweet Leaf Stevia at Sprouts, it not only cost less, it is always available. I bought it from the healthfood store GNC when I lived in Illinois.

@Tebo, look up Stevia cooking on the Internet. I am with Jaye on the soft drinks.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks Shyron! This info will be useful for those looking to purchase Stevia.


Elias Zanetti profile image

Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

I recently heard about stevia as more and more people prefer it over sugar as a natural sweetener. Thanks for the hub and the information you shared with us.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks Elias. Glad you like the info!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

Stevia is quite popular here in Peru. It's most common in the white powder form, although you can also find the leaf. We use it in combination with brown sugar or honey so the stevia flavor isn't so noticeable. It does help decrease our sugar intake. Many commercial products in Peru, such as yogurt, contain stevia. It's good to know about all the health benefits. This is another informative article. Voted up, 5 stars and shared. Thanks!


lemonkerdz profile image

lemonkerdz 3 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

Stevia is all over the place here in cusco. i recently started using it especially in fruit juices that we make up, it saves you on kilos of sugar and is so much better.

Thanks for sharing this hub.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks, Rajan. My family needs to do a better job of using stevia rather than sugar. Thanks for the reinforcement!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

With this information I'll be trying stevia and adding it into my baked goods. Thank you for an informative and useful article.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

@stevia-good to know many commercial products in Peru use stevia as a substitute for white sugar. Thanks for reading and sharing.

@lemonkerdz-glad you are using stevia. Thanks for reading.

@rebecca-Glad you like the info. Thanks.

@PegCole-thanks and good to note you are thinking of using stevia.


Indian Chef profile image

Indian Chef 3 years ago from New Delhi India

Hi rajan, thanks for introducing me to this plant. I had never used or heard about it. I am surely going to try it out. Voted up, interesting, rated 5 stars and shared.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA. Author

Thanks, Indian Chef.


Chuck Bluestein profile image

Chuck Bluestein 3 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

I have been using stevia for over two decades.

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