Stevia: A natural sweetener without calories or carbohydrates
Stevia is a bright future in the market for regular sweeteners with no calories, 300 times sweeter than natural sugar.
Since September 2009, the government authorized the use of the natural sweetener stevia has no calories, with 97% purity rebaudioside A (Reb A), officially opening the first European market for products likely to contain this ingredient ( replacing sugar ) highly anticipated.
Stevia comes in with a speech appealing: zero calories, zero carbohydrates, zero risks of a sudden rise of blood sugar. This no-calorie natural sweetener of the future should delight people aware of the adverse effects of artificial sweeteners and those with a high blood sugar level , with diabetes, who have hypertension or who want to lose weight.
While permission to use stevia for all of Europe still depends on the scientific opinion of the EFSA (European Food Safety) , France took advantage of the possibility of a member of the European Union approve the ingredients for a limited period to two years.
The approval of this natural sweetener, published last week in the Journal Officiel, has been greatly anticipated by the food industry since ANSES (National Agency for Sanitary Security of Food, Environment and Labour, formerly called AFSSA) , issued a positive opinion on the safety of stevia earlier this year. Discover the " food additives do not buy or use ".
WHAT SPECIFICALLY STEVIA? IS SHE HEALTHY?
This is one of the most plants that can restore health on Earth. Stevia is a plant (an herb or shrub, more precisely) native to Paraguay (South America), which grows mainly in semi-arid regions of Paraguay and Brazil. This is a small green plant that bears leaves with a delicious and refreshing taste, sweeter far than sugar. It is a plant antioxidant that brings real benefits to the health of the Asteraceae family, which has 150 to 200 species of herbs.
Various studies have found that the leaves of this plant contain protein, fiber, carbohydrate, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and an oil which contains 53 other nutrients. Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia glycosides do not disappear with the heat, making it an excellent natural sweetener without calories and in condition to prepare
healthy recipes and to cook.
In the 1980s, various studies have highlighted the health risks associated with stevia. However, other independent studies also say the opposite (that the plant is healthy). From 2008, with enough distance, data collected and technological advances; a large study had led the FDA to declare that it had no objection against the use of this plant, with an emphasis on the fact the component that rebaudioside A stevia has no health risk associated, unlike artificial sweeteners (which does not help to lose weight also) .
Stevia is universally recognized by experts as much healthier than aspartame, the artificial sweetener most famous and best-selling in the world (but no independent study has been shown that it is perfectly harmless).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF STEVIA FOR HEALTH?
This herb was best known by fans of alternative medicine, since it was sold for a long time in health-food stores as a dietary supplement. Scientists agree that stevia is much healthier than the traditional sugar and artificial sweeteners because it provides zero calories, zero carbohydrates and does not cause the peak blood sugar ( glycemic index of 0 ).
For comparison, a sugar cube brings 11 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrate and glycemic index estimated at 2 (dietitians recommend keeping your glycemic index, a measure of how much a food raises the blood sugar levels, below 100 per day). A piece of sucralose (Splenda) provides 3 calories, 1 gram of carbohydrate and glycemic index of 1. Furthermore, read: Is there a sugar addiction?
Some studies have suggested that stevia improve health. Two Chinese studies have shown that this herb can greatly reduce blood pressure in people with mild hypertension. A Danish study found that this shrub reduces blood glucose in patients with type two diabetes.
However, the effects found by these studies were mainly observed at doses of stevia much stronger than that used as a sweetener natural. The standard user should not enjoy the benefits of this herb on health if he uses it as a sweetener natural.
Dietary supplements based on this shrub were struggling to meet a public success, partly because of a bitter aftertaste of liquor ice. However, the manufacturers of new sweeteners stevia to say they have found ways around this problem, since the degree of conversion and purity vary significantly now (some stevia products contain added flavors, fibers, etc....). For best taste, recommends using stevia purity of at least 95% (look for products high in rebaudioside A).
WHAT FUTURE FOR THIS HERB IN THE FOOD MARKET?
The global market for sweeteners for food use was estimated at 1.3 billion euros in 2007 by a research firm Leatherhead Food International. The market is dominated by intense sweetener's aspartame and to a lesser extent, Sucralose (a sweetener too recent, the sweeter important).
However, the growing interest in the ingredients from natural sources has led some to consider that enterprises plant stevia can provide the ultimate answer to the battle between those against and those for sweeteners (artificial) .
Reb A (rebaudioside A) is one of the major steviol glycosides found in the leaf of the plant Stevia rebaudiana. This herb is 300 times sweeter than sugar "normal" but provides no calories. The remarkable properties of this shrub make it an attractive choice for manufacturers who want to provide the market with food and drink low-sugar or no sugar.
Food experts estimate that hundreds of tons of stevia be used in food products sold in France in the coming years.
Food manufacturers already anticipated the arrival of this herb in the European market by doing a lot of testing on the possible uses of this shrub. Now they will focus their attention on marketing and launches of foods containing stevia. Manufacturers estimate that the first food products containing extracts of this plant will arrive in the market in late 2009.
In the U.S., where stevia was recognized as a healthy ingredient since December 2008, a small amount of drinks containing this herb was marketed. It is there mostly for niche beverage brands within a wide range of major manufacturers, who wish to test the U.S. market before launching fully. Coca-Cola was launched and beverages with extracts. This shrub called Truvia.
Other products of this herb can be called Stevioside, Rebaudioside; stevia extract; stevia concentrate.
WHAT FORM DO WE FIND THIS PLANT IN THE TRADE?
On the market extracts from this shrub will exist mainly in the form of dried leaf powder (sweetness from 10 to 15, times higher than the traditional sugar) and standardised extract (existing in the form of water-soluble white powder or liquid). This is a standardised extract has been sweetening power 100 to 300 times the sugar.
For the record, know that this plant is also sold in France in various garden enthusiast's decorative plants.
WHAT SHOULD I WATCH WITH THIS SHRUB?
It is recommended that type two diabetics and patients with hypertension and hypotension who want to consume this herb to control with great regularity, their blood sugar levels in blood and / or voltage in case you need to plan a change in dosage of antihypertensive drugs or hypoglycemic (stevia can interact with these drugs).
Some experts also advise women during pregnancy or nursing not to take a lot of excerpts from this shrub.
In rare cases, this natural sweetener may cause allergies in people who are intolerant of Asteraceae plants (which is an allergy to dandelion for example).