What is Stevia?
No calories, no carbohydrates and no fat, diabetic and candida safe, helps prevent cavities. Stevia is a genus of about 150 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. Used for over 1500 years by the native Indians. With its extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Stevia has negligible effect on blood glucose; therefore it is attractive as a natural sweetener to diabetics and others on carbohydrate-controlled diets.
In the early 1970s, Japan began cultivating stevia as an alternative to artificial sweeteners such as cyclamate, saccharin and aspartame. The plant's leaves, the aqueous extract of the leaves, and purified steviosides are used as sweeteners. In health conscious Japan they are widely used in food products, soft drinks (including Coca Cola), and for table use. Japan currently consumes more stevia than any other country; there, stevia accounts for 40% of the sweetener market, other countries around the world have also been using stevia as a sugar substitute, stevia may be used in cooking and baking as a natural sweetener (there are several good stevia recipe books available from quality book stores), adults and children alike may enjoy dessert recipes without risk of weight gain, tooth decay or hyperactivity, it also does not contain the negative side effects reported with the use of artificial sweeteners. It can also be blended into natural toothpowder or mouthwash recipes.
Why is stevia not well known in North America?
By the mid-1980's, stevia was poised to debut on the American marketplace, with Celestial Seasonings and Thomas J. Lipton Tea Company eager to market herbal teas using this herb that is natural, almost non-caloric and is safe for diabetics.
Suddenly, due to an "anonymous trade complaint" from a company that did not want stevia made available to consumers (generally acknowledged as coming from the makers of aspartame), the FDA banned import of the herb into the U.S., and initiated search and seizures (complete with armed federal marshals) in manufacturing facilities, storage warehouses - anywhere where there was potential distribution or use of the herb. Claiming the herb as "a non-safe food additive" despite acknowledging it has "been used throughout history," the FDA refused to respond to petitions filed by the American Herbal Products and Lipton Tea Company, denying official GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) status, even trying to prohibit the petitions to be filed, a routine procedure that does not require any approval.
The FDA's citing of "studies" regarding the safety of stevia are so incomplete and unrealistic they are deemed absurd by most standards with the professor of one study (Professor Joseph Kuc) stating the "studies need to be redone," conceding his findings "do not constitute an important reason for keeping stevia off the U.S. market." The FDA refuses to even read or acknowledge studies indicating safety and benefits of the herb from Japan and Germany.
Yet, the FDA shows a double standard regarding the tens of thousands of consumer complaints regarding aspartame (Nutrasweet and the like), much less the reports and studies of brain tumors, headaches, blindness and seizures. The potential deadly and toxic effects of this pharmachemical far surpasses any remote possible effects of stevia in even the highest dosages.
We are pleased to let you know that as of 2008 stevia was granted GRAS status in the U.S. and as of 2012 Canada has approved stevia for use in foods and beverages.
How can I purchase Stevia with no "licorice" aftertaste?
Many stevia consumers complain about a licorice like aftertaste caused by their stevia concentrate products. This unfortunate experience can be eliminated with a little knowledge learned regarding stevia There are large differences between stevia products. First in the variety of products:
Stevia spoonable (white in color)
A blend of stevia concentrate and a bulking agent...quality depends on the ingredients used by the manufacturer...try to avoid those with more than two or three ingredients.
Natural Stevia Powder (green)
This is the whole stevia leaf ground up and has a strong aftertaste which cannot be removed...it is the most natural form of stevia with the most nutrient value however most people do not like the strong taste...it can also be acquired un-ground in a "tea" cut which is good for adding to herbal tea mixtures...
A blend of stevia concentrate and water ...some manufacturers will add other ingredients be sure to check labels...you can make your own liquid at a fraction the cost of the pre-made by simply blending concentrate with warm purified water and adding to a dropper bottle...
Stevia Concentrate (white)
The quality can vary hugely and this is where it becomes a little tricky...
Without getting to technical the basic reason is that within a stevia leaf there are four major sweetening components...one which is well known is stevioside...you will see some people boasting 80% stevioside in their product and may think this is a high quality powder but that is misleading...what you want to look for is a high content of Rebaudioside A...preferably 80% minimum...Of the four sweet components within the stevia leaf studies have proved Rebaudioside A has the sweetest , purest taste. It only makes up about 3-4% of the leaf...stevioside is approx 17% ...
Unfortunately stevioside is the most widely used in N. America because it is less expensive and more readily available. In Japan where stevia is consumed widely they use almost exclusively the Rebaudioside A leaving the more bitter stevioside to be used in pet food were the consumer (Fluffy, Fido, Spot etc) is not as concerned with aftertaste. HerbCare Stevia Supreme Concentrate has a minimum Rebaudioside A content of 80%...making it a clean, pure and incredibly sweet taste, (approx 300x the sweetness of sugar) .
When purchasing a stevia concentrate do not be fooled by claims of 80% or 90 % stevioside...to avoid disappointment in this wonderful, healthy and natural herb ask what the Rebaudioside A content is!
Herb Care Stevia Supreme Concentrate... PremiumQuality Stevia !
Our Stevia Supreme contains a minimum of 80% Rebaudioside A content. Rebaudioside A is the sweetest component of the stevia, only making up approximately 3% of a stevia leaf.