Odds are, stevia sweetener has been used for centuries south of the border instead of sugar, but the scientific and medical communities in the U.S. are only just now beginning to agree that the substance is a safe and effective aid in dieting.
Pullman, WA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/06/2013 -- Stevia is derived from a perennial shrub in the chrysanthemum family that is native to Central and South America. It has been used around the world as a no-calorie sweetener. Asian women, for example, have been using it for decades so they could continue to enjoy the sweetness while still losing weight. America, however, has been slow to adopt it.
It was only in 2008 that an extract of the stevia plant was approved for use instead of sugar by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board. The World Health Organization has since deemed it safe and the National Institutes of Health called it an appropriate sweetener for diabetics since it gives the pleasure of sweetness without causing a rise in blood sugar.
In fact, the American Diabetes Association cautions about using other sugar surrogates because many can contain as many carbohydrates as regular sugar. Carbohydrates often contribute to weight gain, so dieters can take this recommendation to heart, as well.
According to an article published by Texas A&M University, stevia aids weight loss because the way the body breaks it down and metabolizes it, there is nothing left over, so it is essentially calorie-free.
One gram of stevia contains not only zero calories, but also it has absolutely no fat, carbohydrates, sodium, or protein. Yet stevia extract is about 200 to 300 times as sweet as sugar, so its use must be calibrated if it is to directly substitute for sugar in recipes. For example, a teaspoon of liquid stevia can replace a full cup of sugar.
Company CEO Robert Brooke states, "Using fermentation technologies to enhance stevia extracts in a manner similar to what we have already demonstrated may be critical for production of the most desirable next-generation stevia sweeteners. Recent industry news validates the strategic importance of our stevia production platform and 'Beyond Reb A' program, which we continue to refine and secure in preparation for commercial deployment."
Stevia, then, is rapidly gaining sweet respect in America. For many dieters it has earned a place at the table.
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