STEVIA: Your Own Calorie-Free Natural Sweetener

Family: Asteraceae

Genus: Stevia

Common Name: Stevia Rabaudiana, Sugar leaf, Candy leaf

Stevia is a perennial herb that reaches up to 50-80 cm  in height. The oblong aromatic leaves are arranged oppositely along the stems and are considered to be up to 300 times sweeter than traditional white sugar, containing neither calories nor carbohydrates. Its small tubular white flowers have five  petals and are usually removed to improve the flavour of the leaves. Germination from seed is difficult, comparing  other aromatic plants, and long, reason why most plants are grown from cuttings rather then from seeds. The plant requires rich well-drained soil and thrives in warm humid climates.

Once established, Stevia is a low water, low maintenance plant, but tender young plants are especially sensitive to low temperatures. It’s important then, to wait until the last frost is past and soil temperatures are well above 10/15 °C before transplanting them into your garden. Roots are also sensitive to excessive levels of moisture, be careful to not overwater your plants!

Harvest the entire plant once flower buds have appeared, at the end of September or beginning of October, in the morning when the plant is at its highest sugar content. Organic gardeners in particular, can find in Stevia an ideal addition to their yield for its insect-repelling tendencies. In fact, is a kind of natural defense against aphids and other bugs that find it not to their taste. Growing Stevia yourself is another positive way to protest the corrupted government policies that have for long deprived Western people of its benefits, in favour of the multinationals producing harmful artificial sweeteners such Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharin, Xylitol, etc.

Stevia has a mild, licorice-like taste and is a calorie-free sweetener. If you’re diabetic or trying to lose weight, this aspect may be very appealing. The leaves contain a number of sweet-tasting chemicals known as steviol glycosides, which can be used fresh or dried to sweeten beverages or desserts or can be crushed into powder. Most store bought Stevia powders have been so highly processed with harmful chemicals to resulting in a bright white substance that looks like sugar, that makes almost not worth using it instead of sugar. The benefits of stevia are many, from the amazing taste to its sustainability and natural origin,  zero calories, zero glycemic load, heat stable and tooth friendly just to name few.

 

It is worth to have a natural sweetener that is safe, contains a variety of anti-oxidants and doesn’t raise your blood pressure or insulin levels. But for these benefits, you need the real Stevia and not some over-processed sugar imitation. Once again, the safest way is to grow and harvest your own!

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *