Stevia Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni)
Stevia leaves and flowers
- Common Names
- Stevia , Sweet leaf
- Botanical Name
- Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni)
Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Stevia
- Medicinal Uses: * Diabetes
* Diet/weight Loss
- Properties: * Appetite Depressant
- Parts Used: Leaves
- Constituents: ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene,calcium,chromium,fiber,iron, magnesium,niacin ,phosphorus,potassium,riboflavin,selenium,silicon ,steviol,stevioside,thiamin ,zinc
How to Use: Stevia
About: Stevia is a herbal sweetener that is good for you, stevia leaf adds no calories, and has no harmful side effects. The sweet leaves of this plant are a pleasant and guilt free alternative to sugar. The active photochemical in stevia leaves, stevioside, is at least one hundred times sweeter than sugar, the exact amount varies from leaf to leaf and plant to plant. There have been some studies, mostly animal, that suggest that stevia may be able to lower blood sugar and has a place in the prevention and treatment of type II diabetes1. Stevia's value for anyone wishing to cut down on calories from sugar as part of a healthy diet is unquestionable.
If this all sounds too good to be true, it is, stevia has a downside in the slightly bitter, licorice-like aftertaste. This is especially pronounced when you use liquid stevia extract, or powdered crystals. You can tell by the clear color of these extracts that a lot of processing has gone on, and it is a safe bet that nutrients and health benefits have been lost in the changes, along with stevia's natural green color. The best stevia I ever tasted was from a plant I grew on the patio one summer. Using the whole, fresh or dried leaf gives the best flavor to herbal teas, the taste is milder, sweeter, and the whole herb retains the complete range of medicinal properties. The downside is that use of the whole leaves is pretty much limited to flavoring teas, you can't use whole stevia leaves in baking for instance, or carry a handy bottle with you for work or travel.
Stevia can work as a complete sugar replacement, but you need to have dried leaves, crystals, and liquid extracts on hand, and in a perfect world a few stevia plants as well.
Preparation Methods & Dosage :Brewing the fresh or dried stevia leaf with herbal teas results in less of a bitter aftertaste.The liquid or powdered extracts are more convenient, but may lack some of the health benefits of the whole leaf. Stevia does not caramelize like sugar, which limits its use in baking.
In the Kitchen: Stevia does not crystallize or caramelize like sugar, but can be used in baking. Most commonly used to sweeten beverages.
- Plant Class:Tropical Perennial, or hardy annual. Herbaceous Shrub
- Flowers/Fruit/Seeds:White Flowers are delicate, small, tubular
- Parts used: Leaves
- Leaves:Wandlike stems are hairy and covered with opposite, dark green, and toothed leaves. The plant is not aromatic, but the leaves are sweet
- Flowering Season:
- Distribution: native to the highlands of Paraguay and sections of Argentina and Brazil
Regional Traditions :Central and South America *
How to Grow Stevia
Stevia is a tropical plant that prefers lots of rain and hot, humid weather. Starting from seed can be difficult, you will have more success purchasing seedlings. Like other tropical plants it should be brought indoors for the winter. Prune often to keep plant from getting too leggy, and to harvest the sweet tasting leaves.
- . Antidiabetic activity and phytochemical screening of crude extract of Stevia rebaudiana in alloxan-induced diabetic rats , Pharmacognosy Res. 2010 Jul;2(4):258-63, (July 2010): ,
- Jotham Suez, Tal Korem, David Zeevi, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, et al . Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota , Nature (2014) doi:10.1038/nature13793, (Sept 2014): Consumption of commonly used NAS formulations drives the development of glucose intolerance through induction of compositional and functional alterations to the intestinal microbiota.,