Nutrition Tips - Stevia


STEVIA? A beginners guide to an emerging sweetener

What is Stevia?
You may have heard the word Stevia being brandied about as a natural low energy sweetner.  Stevia is part of the sunflower family and is grown in South America.  It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, it also has a longer sweet taste on the palate meaning that a little stevia goes a long way!  Stevia has a negligible effect on blood sugar levels and therefore has been promoted to people with diabetes, who are overweight or who are trying to reduce their sugar intake.

Stevia is used widely in some countries such as Japan as a sweetner, where as it’s a newcomer on the market in Australia.  Here it is sold as drops, in powdered form and also as a blend with cane sugar.  CSR Smart sugar is a white or raw sugar and Stevia blend, which is twice as sweet as regular sugar so you only use half as much.  Nativa is a brand of powdered 100% Stevia which you can buy in bulk or in individual serves.  In high doses, a distinctive aftertaste may be noticeable however stevia is safe for use in baking as well as in hot drinks, on cereal or wherever you would use normal sugar!

Stevia’s safety has been questioned due to one early study however this has now been refuted as a study of poor design and rash conclusions.  WHO support its use in diabetes and high blood pressure and stevia is regularly used in Japan as a common sweetner and for medicinal purposes.

Stevia can be found in supermarkets and health food stores.