Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stevia? Doesn't she sing with Fleetwood Mac?

Nope. Stevia ia the “new” tabletop sweetener on the market. Vanessa Dwyer, teaching legend from the north-west of Australia wanted some background info on Stevia. When I say “new”, I mean new to Australia. It has been used to sweeten foods in Japan and China for some time, since 1971 and 1984 respectively. There is general agreement that Stevia is safe to add to foods, but like any sweetener you will always have an ongoing debate. Some will argue that there needs to be more testing and others will say that, as it has been consumed for many years in its native habitat (Paraguay), Japan and China, it is likely to be very safe.

Stevia is a natural sweetener extracted from the leaves of a South American plant from the sunflower family. It is virtually calorie-free. French chemists in 1931 extracted stevioside and rebaudioside, the compounds that impart a sweetness about 300 times that of sugar and, unlike aspartame, it is heat stable. A recent review of the evidence in a toxicology journal concluded that it “is safe for human consumption under its intended conditions of use as a general purpose sweetener”. The Australian scientists have come to the same conclusion, hence it is now available.

Reference: Food Chemistry Toxicology 2008; 46 (Suppl 7): S1-S10

1 comment:

yodasmith said...

Thank you! I recommend stevia to anyone who wants to be healthy! (hopefully that's all of us!) I use SweetLeaf stevia! It has 0 calories, 0 carbs, and a 0 glycemic index!