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Stevia is one of the most popular sweeteners – substitutes of sugar. More and more people choose it for their beverages, such as coffee, yet very few actually know what exactly stevia is.
Granulated stevia Sweet Fitness is 100% herbal product, made by selected stevia varieties. It contains glycosides from Rebaudioside A, with 98% purity, and Erythritol, which is used as inert admixture material.
So, let’s see what stevia is, how it is produced, and what place does it have in relation to sugar.
Stevia (Stevia Rebaudiana) is a species of shrubs belonging in the family of Asteraceae, close to herbs such as chamomile, daisy and chrysanthemum. Its use as a sweetener was established first by Latin America natives, mainly from Paraguay, who used crushed stevia leaves in their beverages. In our country, stevia is cultivated since 2002 by the company Sweet Fitness, who has developed Greek stevia varieties. Sweet Fitness is a Greek production company, active in the field of cultivating, producing and trading aromatic plants, herbs and Stevia. Under the brand name of Sweet Fitness, our Company created a line of stevia products, including granulated stevia Sweet Fitness among them.
Stevia leaves contain various natural sweeteners, which are called Steviol Glycosides; according to the degree of their sweetening capacity, they are classified as follows:
- Rebaudioside Α
- Rebaudioside Β
- Rebaudioside C
- Rebaudioside D
- Rebaudioside E
- Rebaudioside F
- Dulcoside A,
The lower we go down the hierarchy of steviol glycosides, the lower the quality of the produced substance will be. The finest and most expensive produced substance is Rebaudioside A, with a purity of 98% (RA98%), which is the sweetest of all glycosides, having the same sweetness quality as sugar, with no bitter aftertaste, and with an intensity of sweetness approximately 200 to 380 times more than sugar. Rebaudioside A can withstand temperatures up to 200 Degrees Celsius, and it is therefore suitable for use in cooking instead of chemical sweeteners. The European Food Safety Authority has certified the safety and high purity of Rebaudioside in Stevia, as a natural extract of plant leaves with no other chemical modification of its structure.
In addition, other than the sweeteners that made it famous, stevia leaves also contain other useful substances, such as metals and trace elements (chromium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc), B-Complex vitamins (mostly niacin) and plant nutrients (such as chlorophyll and phytosterols).
In fact, it seems that in contrast to sugar, stevia does not encourage the development of tooth decay, or the growth of the Candida Albicans fungus. The Japanese, at the beginning of the ‘70’s, were the first to establish the safety of using this particular plant and the sweeteners contained in its leaves. Europe followed suit many years later, and the sweeteners originating from stevia plant were approved for use in food products and beverages in September 2011. France is an exception, because the use of stevia sweeteners was approved in 2009.
However, its consumption is not deemed safe solely by studies and authorities such as the European Food Safety Authority and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Let’s not forget that stevia was long in use by many other countries, such as Japan and Paraguay.
Today, stevia extracts are used as substitutes for common sugar, as well as other natural or artificial sweeteners. As such, they have earned their place in beverages, light soft drinks, liquors, sweets, special food products and diet food products.
In order to be used in our day-to-day life (in beverages, cooking, pastry-making etc.), stevia must lower its sweetness capacity. Just think that in its natural form after its extraction and transformation to powder, a small spoon full of stevia has the same sweetness as ten cups full of sugar. In order to decrease its sweetness capacity, the industry uses various inert materials, which are then mixed with stevia and lower its sweetness. The best plant material for creating granulated stevia is erythritol, which is 100% herbal product from the fermentation of fruits and vegetables; erythritol helps to ensure stevia’s capacity for use as a food product for special diet purposes.
Sugar contains carbohydrates, and as such, it generates 4 calories per gram, meaning that 1 teaspoon of sugar provides 20 calories. On the other hand, stevia, since it contains no caloric ingredients, generates no calories regardless of the amount of its consumption. As such, it is an alternative for people who eat lots of sugar, who are strict in their food, or who must be careful in their uptake of sugar and calories, such as people who suffer from diabetes, or obese people.
Stevia is the only natural sweetener with zero calories, zero carbohydrates, zero glycemic index (G.I.) and zero glycemic load (G.L.). As a result, when used instead of common sugar or other similarly caloric sweeteners (such as fructose, honey, agave nectar, among others) it can restrain the uptake in energy, and thus provide a positive contribution to the effort of maintaining a balanced weight.
Attention: Not all stevia packages include “completely natural” plant extracts. Unfortunately, in order to generate quick profits, many companies dealing in granulated stevia, sell various products of doubtful quality and origin, which they present as stevia products, while they are actually sweetener garbage sold at very high prices, exploiting unaware consumers and the fact that Greek authorities show no regard to what is sold on the market.
The majority of these products are dangerous for consumption by humans, especially when it comes to people in which they are supposedly addressed to, and which they supposedly protect from the afflictions caused by sugar. The inscription on most of these suspicious products writes that they “contain steviol glycosides”, without inscribing and specifying the exact substance; moreover, they use excipient inert materials for admixture, many of which are highly dangerous, toxic, unsuitable for use by people suffering from diabetes, and there are also serious evidence that their consumption can cause cancer. Let’s examine some of these excipient materials:
- Sucralose: Sucralose is a chemical product discovered in 1976. It is produced by sugar, through a chemical process that alters its molecular structure. It triggers a rise in the glycemic index. UNSUITABLE FOR DIABETICS.
- Dextrose: Dextrose is a monosaccharide, meaning corn sugar, used by the organism as metabolic intermediate in various biological processes. It triggers a rise in the glycemic index. UNSUITABLE FOR DIABETICS.
- Maltodextrin: Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate complex consisting of glucose polymer (plain sugar) resulting from starch hydrolysis. Despite the fact that it is a polymer, this compound has a chemical bond structure that can be easily broken down. Maltodextrin is easily and quickly digested, absorbed and metabolized, resulting in a high glycemic index. The rapid increase of insulin caused by this compound, as well as the energy it provides, both promote the composition of proteins and increased muscle mass. It triggers a rise in the glycemic index. UNSUITABLE FOR DIABETICS.
- Maltose: Maltose is one of the products resulting from the breakdown of starch, a polysaccharide composed of thousands of glucose molecules. It can be found in large quantities in sprouted cereal grains, in which the already existing starch has begun to split from the amylases to smaller glucose chains. It triggers a rise in the glycemic index. UNSUITABLE FOR DIABETICS.
- Maltitol: Maltitol is a sugar alcohol (a polyol) used as a substitute for sugar. It holds 75-90% of the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar) and almost similar qualities, with the exception of browning. It causes a rise in the glycemic index. UNSUITABLE FOR DIABETICS.
- Sodium cyclamate: Otherwise known as cyclamic acid. It was discovered in 1937 by Michael Sveda, who worked as a chemical researcher for El du Pont de Nemours and Company. It is a toxic substance banned in the U.S.A for decades (since 1969) as very dangerous to human health. However, it is still available as a sweetener in many countries, Greece included among them. FDA’s report-resolution cites several very interesting facts, since it is clearly stated that sodium cyclamate has a carcinogenic effect with indications for bladder cancer (formation of cancer cells in the tissue of the urinary bladder) and hepatic lesion leading to cirrhosis of the liver. The same study mentions cases of teratogenesis, lack of testosterone in male infants and IRREVERSIBLE TESTICULAR ATROPHY in laboratory animals (mice, and also primates).
- Saccharin: The most widely used substance of all, since it is the first sweetener used in our country. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar, and contains an insignificant number of calories. It causes no tooth decay and it is very cheap to produce. However, laboratory studies in the past showed that this substance is suspect for causing cancer.
- Acesulfame K: Otherwise known as acesulfame potassium, acesulfame K is a sweetener with low calories, and it was initially approved for use in 1988 labeled as E950. Acesulfame K is a synthetic organic salt, 200 times sweeter than sucrose (sugar); it has a collaborative sweetening effect with other sweeteners, a stable shelf life, and it is also capable of acting as a heat stabilizer. Suspect for causing cancer.
As the experts always advise, we make sure to read the instructions listed on the package of the product prior to using it. The law clearly states that all ingredients must be listed on the package. Unfortunately, there has been a long discussion in Greece concerning what is “legal” and what is “ethical”. A time must come, however, when those advocating in favor of business ethics stop taking advantage of the comforts of the law at the expense of the common citizen. Otherwise, they ought to throw away the mask of ethics and remain legitimate, gathering the appropriate profits for their efforts.
Until the time comes when the State will decide to truly and essentially protect the citizens against suspicious and unethical practices, highly dangerous for human health, let us protect ourselves and the people we care about. Knowledge is power, and now you know.
The decision is yours
Any product, regardless of quality, at a bargain price ….
or quality assurance with Sweet Fitness?