Stevia-An herb sweetener with 1 carbohydrate and 0 calories
Stevia has a lot of potential if the manufacturers can get it to the point where it is more usable in its substitution for sugar. Substituting stevia for sugar can help people to lose weight and help people with the many diseases that go with being overweight.
Some of the benefits of stevia are: 0 calories, 1 carbohydrate, non-toxic, non-fermentable, does not impact blood sugar levels, plaque retardant, i.e. prevents cavities. Another major benefit, this applys only to the herb stevia and not the extracted steviosides commonly used in cookbooks, is chromium. Stevia is in the top 10 list of plant foods high in chromium. Chromium is a popular mineral supplement people take to lose weight. It helps insulin to work better and so can help prevent the loss of blood sugar control. It is also necessary for fat metabolism.
Ninety percent of the American population are deficient in chromium. While obtaining chromium in foods is safe, care must be used in supplementation . Toxicity results in anxiety, fatigue, glucose intolerance and adult onset diabetes. Recommended amounts 200-400mcg, this is often increased for weight loss and diabetes up to 600 mcg.(check with your Dr.). Please note mcg is micrograms not milligrams.
I finally, after alot of experimenting, came to this conclusion. If possible, I use the herb stevia to sweeten, as opposed to its white powder extract. Take 1/2 cup powdered stevia and soak it in 1 cup warm water overnight. Next day strain, bottle and refrigerate the stevia liquid up to 1 month. To sweetened a 1/2 gallon herbal tea use 2 Tablespoons. To substitute in recipes I've had to compromise, 3 T liquid stevia plus 1/3 cup natural sugar equals 1 cup sugar. For some recipes, especially if you're new to this, you may want to use less liquid stevia.
Stevia is a good example of synergism, the whole is better than the sum of its parts. In using the herb you obtain chromium and many other nutrients, some probably undiscovered. While steviosides will probably help many people, once it can be used without sacrificing the flavor and texture we all like, it will be devoid of many nutrients.
This brings me to the subject to be covered next month. Homocysteine and Dr. Kilmer, a Harvard physician kicked out of Harvard in the 60's, because he had the gall to point the blame of major diseases to the refining of our foods. Dr. Kilmer gives an excellent understanding of the major differences between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrate foods. Dr. Kilmer has since been vindicated and has been written about in all the major medical journals. He's a champion!
Just to clarify, stevioside is an extraction of stevia often recommended in cookbooks. It is not the whole herb as is used in the recipe above. Both are difficult to use in cooking. Steviosides advantage is its color, It is white where the whole herb is green. I personally find stevia liquid easier to work with.
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