Also called "sweet leaf" or "sugar leaf," stevia has been used since ancient times as both a sweetener and medicine. Stevia sweetener has many health benefits over conventional sugar and other sugar substitutes. Stevia sweetener is derived from the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant.Stevia ChemistryGlycosides, steviosides and rebaudiosides, stevia's sweetening agents, are extracted from the leaf of the plant. These agents are not metabolized by the body, therefore the caloric intake is zero.
Stevia in Many FormsStevia leaves are found in most health food stores: whole, crushed, in tea bags or as a fine green powder. For use in dressings and marinades, baking cookies or sweetening iced tea, stevia sweetener is available in liquid, powder and extract form.
Stevia Versus SugarTwo teaspoons of sugar register about 32 calories; the same amount of stevia sweetener has zero calories. Stevia powder has concentrated sweetness, so much that it must be measured "by the pinch," as opposed to sugar which is measured by the cup. Stevia is about 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Vitamins and MineralsOften labeled as a dietary supplement, stevia leaves contain proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and vitamins A and C.
Diabetes and Weight LossBecause stevia has no calories or sucrose (the active agent in sugar), the sweetener is an attractive substitute for those interested in weight loss. The glycemic index of stevia sweetener also registers zero, which may appeal to diabetics looking for a healthy, alternative sweetener.
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Body Building: Stevia