We all know that sugar is bad for our health and is highly addictive. Because of this, many people are looking for alternative, natural sweeteners to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Stevia, a green leafy plant native to South America, has become immensely popular the last few years. Its extract is 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar and marketed as a 100% natural sweetener that contains zero calories and doesn’t rise blood glucose levels.
That been said, stevia seems to be the perfect sweetener, but unfortunately the refined stevia options – like Truvia, Pure Via, and Stevia In The Raw – we find on the market today don’t resemble the stevia plant at all.
Whole Stevia Leaves Remain Non-approved By The FDA
While the FDA has approved the use of stevia extract (rebaudioside A), under pressure of big, influential corporates like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the leaves remain non-approved as a food additive.
Incredible isn’t it. Especially if you know that stevia leaves have to go through 40 chemical steps to remove rebaudioside A (sweet compound) from the leaves to make the Truvia product they sell on the market. Some of the chemicals they use are known carcinogenics.
So it doesn’t make sense that the FDA approves Stevia extract, but the whole leaves can’t be used as a food additive.
Questionable Ingredients Added To Stevia Extract
Another shocking thing I discovered, not only is the extraction method highly toxic, they also add genetically engineered erythritol, dextrose, and many other chemicals under the name “natural” flavors. So most commercially available stevia products aren’t even 100% stevia extract.
How To Choose The Right Kind Of Stevia
Stevia can be a perfect sugar substitute, but only if you use the fresh or dried leaves in their natural state. You can add the fresh or dried leaves directly to teas or other drinks or grind up dried leaves in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to make powdered stevia.
The only thing you need to do is buy a stevia plant. They are easy to grow and care for. Stevia grows much like mint and can perfectly be kept indoors in pot if you don’t have a garden.
Note that whole stevia leaves are 5 to 6 times less sweet than its chemically derived extract.
If you are buying products that contain stevia, check the food labels and put the once back that say rebaudioside A or stevia extract. Opt for the products that have “made with whole stevia leaf” on their label.
Another thing you could try is to make your own stevia extract. It’s super easy. Dry the leaves in the sun for about 12 hours or use your dehydrator. Place them in a jar and cover the leaves with vodka. Steep for 24 hours and strain. Heat the liquid on low heat for 20 minutes to evaporate the alcohol, make sure the mixture doesn’t boil, and transfer to a dropper bottle. The stevia extract can be stored for up to 90 days in the fridge.
If this is too much work for you, look for 100% pure stevia extracts with no added ingredients or use raw honey instead.
All in all, stevia can be used as a good sugar alternative, but be mindful about which products you choose. Choose fresh or dried leaves or natural preparations.