Sunday, January 22, 2006

Stevia plant chemicals

An extract from


Western interest in stevia began around the turn of the nineteenth century, when researchers in Brazil started hearing about a plant with leaves so sweet that just one leaf would sweeten a whole gourd full of bitter yerba mate tea. It was first studied in 1899 by Paraguayan botanist Moises S. Bertoni, who wrote some of the earliest articles on stevia (in the early 1900s).

Over 100 phytochemicals have been discovered in stevia since. It is rich in terpenes and flavonoids. The constituents responsible for stevia's sweetness were documented in 1931, when eight novel plant chemicals called glycosides were discovered and named. Of these eight glycosides, one called stevioside is considered the sweetest - and has been tested to be approximately 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevioside, comprising 6-18% of the stevia leaf, is also the most prevalent glycoside in the leaf. Other sweet constituents include steviolbioside, rebausiosides A-E, and dulcoside A.

The main plant chemicals in stevia include: apigenin, austroinulin, avicularin, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, campesterol, caryophyllene, centaureidin, chlorogenic acid, chlorophyll, cosmosiin, cynaroside, daucosterol, diterpene glycosides, dulcosides A-B, foeniculin, formic acid, gibberellic acid, gibberellin, indole-3-acetonitrile, isoquercitrin, isosteviol, jhanol, kaempferol, kaurene, lupeol, luteolin, polystachoside, quercetin, quercitrin, rebaudioside A-F, scopoletin, sterebin A-H, steviol, steviolbioside, steviolmonoside, stevioside, stevioside a-3, stigmasterol, umbelliferone, and xanthophylls.

For further reading click here for the complete article.

Stevia, why isn't it popular?

This is from my personal experience. It is like anything new or different. Stevia is not sugar, this must be stressed. Like all other sweet substitutes, yes they have a sweet taste, but there are a combination of after-tastes that turns many off.

Case in point. I know of some people that are so addicted to the taste, yes the taste is addictive, and have gained so much weight that they are using sugar substitutes to control their weight and diabetes. This one person that I know was spooning the substitute into their coffee. Well the coffee became bitter because of the interaction of the substitute and the coffee.

When it comes to substitutes there is a limit. There is even a limit to sugar itself before the body reacts to it i.e. weight gain, ADD, ADHD, diabetes.

Stevia like all things is an acquired taste. I personally do not taste sweet so therefore items that are heavily ladened with sugar and honey can be eaten with out me saying 'Ohh that is too sweet'. I personally use stevia to have that sweet taste in my mouth, yes I can taste this sweet. I like it because the variety that I use has very little after-taste and the taste is lasting. Among other benefits the taste significantly moderates my intake of sugar.

As with all things another example. When it comes to milk, I can not stand to drink cow's milk, but I like soya and goat or sheeps milk in that order. After drinking soya milk I have developed a preference. The same is true for stevia, it is an acquired taste.

Wikipedia Stevia Entry

Stevia (also called sweetleaf or sweet leaf) is a genus of about 150 species of herbs and shrubs belonging to the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America (north to Mexico). The species continue reading ...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Stevia and Diabetes

If you have diabetes, chances are you consume a large amount of artificial sweeteners. Until now, these sweeteners have been the only sugar alternative for those with diabetes. The problem, however, is that there has always been a concern that overconsumption of these synthetic sweeteners may cause some harm to the body. Could partial or complete stevia substitution for artificial sweeteners be a good idea? We believe so. Stevia leaves have been used as herbal teas by diabetic patients in Asian countries for many years. No side effects have been observed in these patients after continued consumption (Suttajit, 1993). Furthermore, studies have shown that stevia extract can actually improve blood sugar levels (Alvarez, 1981, Curi, 1986).

In 1986, Brazilian researchers from the Universities of Maringa and Sao Paolo evaluated the role of stevia in blood sugar (Curi, 1986). Sixteen healthy volunteers were given extracts from 5 grams of stevia leaves every six hours for three days. The extracts were prepared by immersing the leaves in boiling water for twenty minutes. A glucose tolerance test (GTT) was performed before and after the administration of the extract. During this test, the volunteers were given a glass of water with glucose. Blood sugar levels were then evaluated over the next few hours. The results were compared to those of another group of volunteers that did not receive the stevia extracts. Those with a predisposition to diabetes showed marked rise in blood sugar levels. The group given stevia was found to have significantly lower blood sugar levels as indicated by the glucose tolerance tests.

The results of this study were a positive indication that, potentially, stevia can be beneficial to diabetics. And even if stevia by itself does not lower blood sugar levels, the simple fact that a person with diabetes would consume less sugar is of significant importance in maintaining better blood sugar control.

We suggest that switch to stevia. You can begin by using it instead of sugar or an artificial sweetener to flavor your coffee or tea. After a few days or weeks, as your comfort level with stevia increases, gradually use more of the herbal extract in those dishes or beverages in which you would normally use a different sweetener. With time, more research will become available on the safety of stevia and artificial sweeteners. Based on the results of these studies, you can better determine which sweeteners to continue using in greater amounts.

Although some argue that artificial sweeteners are safe in small amounts, problems may arise if they are used in excess. Even partially substituting stevia for artificial sweeteners can help reduce any potential risk.

extracted from here

Stevia and Weight Loss

It would seem quite obvious that even partially substituting a no-calorie sweetener for sugar would help reduce caloric intake and thus contribute to weight loss. (One ounce-approximately 2 teaspoons-of sugar contains 50 calories. The average daily sugar intake for persons in the United States is 13 ounces, or 650 calories.) Such is the case with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

Researchers at the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, studied the influence of aspartame on obesity (Blackburn, 1997). In one study, 163 women were randomly divided into two groups. Each group was assigned to either consume or abstain from aspartame-sweetened foods and beverages for sixteen weeks. Both groups were also actively involved in a weight-control program using a variety of modalities. At the end of the study, both the group on aspartame and the group without the synthetic sweetener lost an average of 10 kilograms (22 pounds). During the maintenance phase that lasted for the next two years, the women assigned to the aspartame group gained back an average of 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) while those who were not on aspartame gained back 9.4 kilograms (20 pounds)- practically all of the weight they had previously lost. The researchers concluded, "These data suggest that participation in a multidisciplinary weight-control program that includes aspartame may facilitate the long-term maintenance of reduced body weight."

Unfortunately, no formal studies have been done to evaluate stevia substitution in relation to weight loss. However, as stevia has virtually no calories, we would suspect the results to be similar to those in the aspartame study.

Are you the type of person who uses a lot of sugar? Do you use it to sweeten beverages? Do you sprinkle it on cereal? Do you consume it in baked goods and other sweet treats? If so, there's a good possibility that even partially substituting these refined sugar calories with calorie-free stevia can make a difference in your weight.

extracted from here

Stevia and Tooth Decay

Even a five-year-old child knows that sugar can cause tooth decay. There are certain bacteria in your mouth, particularly Streptococcimutans, that ferment various sugars and produce acids. These acids, in turn, eat through the enamel of the tooth, causing a decayed spot or cavity. For a long time, scientists have searched to find alternative sweeteners that are not fermentable by bacteria and, hence, do not cause cavities. Artificial sweeteners have been helpful in this regard.

Does stevia lead to tooth cavities? According to one study done on laboratory rats, the answer is no. In this study, stevioside and rebaudioside A -- the two primary sweet constituents of the stevia plant -- were tested on a group of sixty rat pups (Das, 1992). The rats were divided into four groups. Group 1 was fed 30 percent of its diet in sucrose (table sugar). Group 2 was given 0.5 percent of its diet in stevioside. Group 3 received 0.5 percent of its diet in rebaudioside A. Group 4, the control group, was given no sugar or sweetener of any kind. There was no difference in the food or water intake among the groups.

After five weeks, the rats were evaluated. There was a significant difference in the condition of their teeth. The sugar-fed rats in Group 1 had significantly more cavities than the rats in the other groups. The rats in Groups 2, 3, and 4 had about the same number of cavities. The researchers stated, "It was concluded that neither stevioside nor rebaudioside A is cariogenic [cavity causing] under the conditions of this study." It appears that the chemicals within the stevia plant that impart its sweetness are not fermentable, and thus do not cause tooth cavities.

extracted from here

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sugar Facts

Take a look at this document:

The Sugar Industry is apparently a highly subsidized industry. Here are some snippets from this document:

- Canada's sugar producers are unique in the world in that they do not depend on government subsidies

- In most other countries, governments artificially inflate sugar prices while restricting imports.

- The world's distorted sugar market is paid for by consumers. Most developed countries keep domestic sugar prices high with subsidies and transfers from consumers.

No wonder Sugar profits are so highly protected. Hence any hint of competition would cut into profits.

Thoughts from My Research

It is interesting reading about the controversy regarding this plant.

One of the interesting notes is that in the early 1900's there was a movement to introduce Stevia to the public at large. Through some of my research, before Stevia marketing started, a dirty little lie was introduced to the public and government by quite possibly 'Big Sugar'. This villianised the plant and as such was in many countries 'Stevia' was considered a controlled substance like cocane. For a time it was even illegal to market a product stating that it is sweet if it did not have sugar as the sweetener. Could it be that the vast profits that Big Sugar is making could have been at risk?

Stevia can be grown by anyone. This topical plant can be grown in northern Canada. This is quite different to sugar cane, sugar beets, corn etc. that sugar can be extacted from. This fact is probably why Big Sugar has lobbied so intensely to limit anything that would cut into their profits. Profit is the name of the game. You piss them off, they come after you.

I my humble opinion there is room for Stevia in the market place on a commercial scale. Sugar is a $178 Billion a year market industry. These are the official numbers. Currently world wide sugar production has plateaued. There is still room for other products in this niche like Stevia.

Final note: I do not think that 'sugar' will ever be fully replaced by other sweeteners. The body requires this substance in some form whether simple or complex to run our bodies but not at the amounts that are put into merchandised product.