In the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle leading fight is obesity. One of the "culprits" of excess weight, sugar, it is recommended to exclude from the diet and replace with a harmless and low-calorie sweetener stevia.
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For a long time, sugar cane served as the only source of sugar. Black slaves worked hard on the plantations so that Europeans could treat themselves to sweets.
The monopoly was broken only with the arrival of sugar beet on the sweet market. Meanwhile, in Central and South America, a plant was discovered whose leaves have a sweet taste.
The discovery belongs to the Swiss Mose Giacomo Bertoni, who headed the agronomic college in the capital of Paraguay. After 12 years, receiving a plant as a gift (rather than dry leaves, as it was before), the scientist was able to describe a new type of stevia and get an extract from it.
The natural habitat of stevia is not large: the highlands on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. However, the plant takes root quite easily with the right care and gives rich yields. In a temperate climate, stevia grows as an annual, the plant must be planted every year. Although, setting a goal, you can grow perennials in a greenhouse or on a windowsill. When cultivating stevia is difficult to grow from seeds, for reproduction using the vegetative method - shoots.
Natural sweetener is widely used in Japan, in the United States stevia is positioned as a dietary supplement (not competing with aspartame distributed there). In addition, stevia is extremely popular and in demand in the countries of East Asia, Israel, South America, China, and southern regions of Russia.
A unique plant, or what can replace sugar
Stevia is used as a sugar substitute due to its chemical composition:
- stevioside is a glycoside containing a non-carbohydrate moiety and a carbohydrate glucose residue. It was synthesized from the leaves of the plant in the thirties of the last century, the content is up to 20% of dry weight. It has a slightly bitter taste.
- Rebaudioside A - substances that have an ideally sweet taste, many times more than sugar in concentration. 1 g of the substance, isolated and purified after receiving the extract, replace up to 400 g of sugar.
Benefits of Stevia
Calorie sugar is very high - 400 kcal per 100 g of sand. Excess glucose is converted into fat, which inevitably leads to an increase in body weight and, with excessive consumption of the product, to obesity.
Separately, it is necessary to say about people suffering from diabetes. In diabetes, elevated blood glucose is dangerous not only for health, but for the life of the patient.
For diabetics and people struggling with obesity, chemical sugar substitutes are available:
- Aspartame (E951), beloved by Americans, is 150–200 times sweeter than sugar, has a low calorie content of 4 kcal / g, decomposes when heated, and is not suitable for sweetening tea instead of sugar;
- Sodium cyclamate (E952), 30-50 times sweeter than usual sugar. Studies have proven that cyclamate causes cancer in experimental rats, but for humans, the carcinogenic effect has not been established. However, the substance is listed conditionally teratogenic and is forbidden to use during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Prohibited for use in the United States of America;
- Saccharin (E954) is used instead of sugar as a diabetic product. Its production in recent years has been greatly reduced. Saccharin, when added to foods and beverages, gives them an unpleasant metallic taste, in addition, inhibits the growth of beneficial intestinal flora and prevents the absorption of biotin (vitamin H), necessary for the synthesis of enzymes, collagen, and regulation of carbon dioxide transfer.
Along with chemical, natural sweeteners are used - xylitol, sorbitol, fructose, but their caloric content is little different from sugar.
The main trump card possessed by stevia is extremely low in calories. Stevia extracts have zero calorie content, which allows them to be used for weight loss.
Stevia leaves contain vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, essential oils, bioflavonoids, and other substances that explain the plant's benefits.
Useful properties of stevia:
- gives a feeling of rapid satiety and suppresses appetite;
- absorbed by the body without insulin;
- lowers blood glucose levels;
- normalizes metabolic processes in the body;
- prevents the deposition of cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels;
- normalizes digestion;
- stabilizes blood pressure and protects the myocardium;
- stimulates the immune system;
- has antibacterial action.
Where to buy stevia?
Drugs containing sweetener stevia are sold in a pharmacy and online stores specializing in the sale of healthy foods.
Convenient and practical form of stevioside release - tablets. One tablet of sweetness replaces a teaspoon of sugar, contains 0.7 kcal. Additional sweetness is provided by the polyhydric alcohol erythrinol, the filling agent is dextrose. The tablets contain vitamins and elements.
Tablets are approved for use by people with diabetes and thyroid disorders, they normalize blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure, are indicated for disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and for exacerbation of allergic reactions.
The tablets dissolve well and are used to add sweetness to drinks and dishes in cooking.
Phytotea Crimean stevia is a natural product containing more than fifty nutrients: amino acids, vitamins, trace elements, beta-carotene, pectins and others.
Tea removes from the body radionuclides and salts of heavy metals, strengthens the immune system, lowers the level of glucose and blood cholesterol, blood pressure. Brewed leaves have a sweet taste and additional sugar and its substitutes are not required. To prepare a drink 1 tsp. dry leaves are poured, 2 liters of boiling water and brewed for 5-7 minutes. The leaves can be used as a substitute for sugar in other beverages, baking. Stevia suppresses appetite for a long time, you can add rosehip, chamomile to tea, and chicory to coffee.
Honey stevia - one of the varieties of stevia, used to make sweetener. Stevia powder is used not only to add to tea, but also in recipes for a variety of dishes. It has no contraindications, except for individual intolerance.
How to take the powder?
1 g of stevia powder for sweetness is equal to 2 tsp. Sahara. The powder has zero calorie content.
Dry crushed leaves, packaged in filter bags, are convenient for brewing, since the single dose is accurately measured. 1 bag brew 0.2 liters of water and insist about 5-7 minutes. Since stevia suppresses appetite, it is recommended to drink tea on an empty stomach (if the goal is to reduce weight).
Sweets for joy
Chocolate with stevia - one of the options for low-calorie and healthy delicacies. Its caloric content is 460 kcal per 100 g of product. Does not contain sugar, but the composition includes probiotic inulin. Thanks to him and stevioside, the blood sugar level goes down, cholesterol levels return to normal.
Numerous reviews indicate the benefits of this sweet, unlike regular chocolate. In the health food stores you can find sweets with stevia with the addition of figs, dried apricots, almond and walnuts.
Homemade Stevia Recipes
- Syrup with stevia. To prepare the syrup (extract) at home, you will need 150 g of dry stevia leaves. They are placed in a three-liter jar and poured with vodka so that the liquid level is 1.5-2 cm above the level of the leaves. The bank is sealed and shaken vigorously, then left to stand for a day. The finished syrup is filtered, separating the leaves, and stored in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 4 months. 10 drops of stevia is enough to give the sweetness of a cup of tea or coffee. A glass of sugar when baking will replace 1 tbsp. l syrup
- For home canning:
- jam on stevia - 1 tsp. extract per 1 kg of preserved foods;
- for compotes - from 15 to 80 g of dry leaves;
- for marinades - 3-5 g of leaves per three-liter jar;
- for pickles, add leaves instead of sugar - 5-6 pcs.
- Meringue with stevia. Separate 5-7 egg whites and whip them until a thick white foam holds the shape. Add 10 drops of stevia extract. On a heated baking sheet, covered with baking paper, spoon small balls out with a spoon. Bake at 110 0 C for 40 minutes.
- Casserole with stevia. Mix a pack of fat cottage cheese, 2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp. l butter, 3 g of powdered leaves or 5 drops of stevia extract. Add 1 tbsp. l flour, vanilla and raisins to taste. Put the resulting mass into the mold and bake in the oven at 120 0 С for 25-30 minutes.
- Oatmeal. Pour 150 g of water and 100 g of milk into a bowl, heat slightly, add 2 tbsp. l oatmeal. Cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes after boiling. Turn off, add 1/3 tsp. salt, 10 drops of stevia extract or 2-3 tablets, 1 tsp. butter.
Stevia is a useful plant for those who wish to lose weight, but do not find the strength to give up sweets, and for those whose body, due to endocrine disorders, is not able to process sugar. Various forms of production of stevia drugs allow everyone to choose the best for themselves. Clinical trials have shown that stevia has no side effects, but excessive consumption of a sweetener will harm the body.