What Is Stevia, Anyways?

Written by: Barb Kelly

July 27, 2018

Stevia sweetener is an intensely sweet, white powder derived from the Stevia plant, which is native to Paraguay and Brazil but is now also grown in China and Japan as a crop.

ErythritolThe plant has been used in Paraguay since the 16th Century as a herbal medicine as well as to sweeten drinks and teas.It is naturally occurring glycosides processed from the leaves of the plant that produce the white powder now used as a sweetener throughout the world.

There a many benefits associated with using stevia:

  • It is a naturally sourced sweetener.
  • It is a non-carbohydrate ingredient, thus a near-zero calorie food ingredient.
  • Because it is not a carbohydrate, it does not increase blood sugars or insulin requirements.
  • 300-400 times more sweet than sugar, it takes very little is required to sweeten foods & drinks.
  • It has anti-oxidant traits.
  • Research has found that stevia can reduce blood sugar levels.[1]
  • It does not cause tooth decay.
  • Certain glycosides in stevia extract have been found to dilate blood vessels, increase sodium excretion, and urine output. In effect, stevia, at slightly higher doses than as sweetener, can help lower blood pressure.[2]
  • Stevia use is safe for pregnant and nursing women as well as children.
  • Because it is a herb, stevia provides vitamins & minerals that are absent in artificial sweeteners.
  • Typically requires 1/5 the land area & much less water to produce the same amount of sweetness as other sweeteners (sugar, etc.)[3]
  • It is non-allergenic when consumed in food & drink.
  • Stevia is recognized throughout the world as a safe sweetener for all people, including diabetics.

In addition to all its benefits, stevia extracts do not have any recorded side-affects. The only complaint made by some is that it has a bitter aftertaste. Today, stevia is often combined with a sugar alcohol or alcohols to mask the bitterness some experience after consuming foods & drinks sweetened with stevia alone.

It is important to note that all sugar alcohols except erythritol add some carbohydrate and calories and may, therefore, affect blood sugars slightly. Sugar alcohols – other than erythritol – can also have a bloating, flatulent, or gassy affect that many prefer to avoid. It is best to choose items sweetened with stevia and erythritol to have a sweet experience without aftertaste or digestive discomfort.

In some countries, crude stevia extracts and stevia leaves are sold as dietary supplements, but only high-purity stevia leaf extracts are approved for use in foods and drinks by multiple jurisdictions throughout the world.

Because of the benefits of stevia and erythritol for diabetics and others wishing to avoid sugars in their diet, Ross Chocolate’s is using both of these safe sweeteners in our newest line of chocolates. Look for our stevia-sweetened line in stores near you and enjoy a truly guilt-free treat when you need one.

[1] Medical News Today. Stevia: 8 Amazing Health Benefits & Facts About This Healthy Sweetener. Retrieved on July 25, 2018 from http://thescienceofeating.com/2017/08/04/stevia-8-amazing-health-benefits-facts-about-this-healthy-sweetener/

[2] Stevia Plant (herb) Nutrition Facts. Retrieved on July 25, 2019 from https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/stevia-plant.html

[3] Bratskeir, Kate. 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Stevia. Retrieved on July 25, 2018 from https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/stevia-what-is-it_n_5983772

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  1. Elaine Fuhr

    Absolutely love your chocolate. I am hoping you never discontinue use of maltitol as I am unable to eat stevia. So glad you are a Canadian company.

    • Barb

      We have no plans to stop producing our maltitol-sweetened line of chocolates at this time. Will you please tell us why you cannot eat stevia? Thank you!


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