Stevioside is a natural sweetener that is an extract of Stevia. The sweetness comes from two compounds in the plant called stevioside and rebaudioside, and they are up to 480 times as sweet as sugar.
Stevia is a plan native to South America, and particularly Paraguay. However it can be grown in any sub tropical or tropical climate. Its leaves are about 30 times the sweetness of sugar.
Zero glycemic index. Very sweet. Not harmful to teeth. Very suitable for diabetics. It is a natural product. Seems to assist in the regulation of blood sugar levels, and this is quite apart from the fact it contains no carbohydrates. Is heat stable and suitable for use in cooking and in processed food.
No concerns unless you have a vested interest in the sale of sugar or other sweeteners. Some of the products can have a bitter or licorice flavor. The more concentrated forms are superior. The Rebaudioside A extract is the sweetest and has the least aftertaste.
Of the two compounds Rebaudioside A is the sweeter and has the least aftertaste. This can be extracted naturally using water. However techniques using Ethanol are more economical and have raised concerns in some quarters. However Ethanol is just plain old alcohol by another name, and none remains in the extract. Should not really be a concern.
Sold as almost pure extract. Coca cola have a product called Truvia, and Pepsi have a product called PureVia. Both of these are mixtures of Rebaudioside A and Erythritol in a granulated form that is convenient to use. They both have approx 4 times the sweetness of sugar and almost zero calories.
Has been used for centuries by native Indians in Paraguay in South America. Has been used in Japan since the early 1970s and it now accounts for 40% of the sweetener market there. Diet Coke in Japan is made with Stevia.
Approved in Japan for decades. Approved in EU as E960. Approved in the USA in 2008.
Conclusions and Summary:
Excellent natural zero calorie sweetener with no side effects. Some will prefer the less processed versions, i.e. the raw powdered herb. However this has a rather bitter flavour. Stevia is already making inroads into the sweetener market in the USA. Expect to see other new exciting natural sweeteners on the market soon including Monk Fruit (Luo Han Guo).
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