Stevia leaf is a delightfully healthy way to add sweetness to your meals without the use of sugar. Unlike other sweeteners, stevia is not a sugar at all, and therefore does not raise blood sugar levels and contribute to nasty conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. This naturally sweet-tasting herb has actually been found to regulate blood sugar as well as lower blood pressure. However, not all stevia products are created equal; many brands contain harmful additives.
Most stevia available in health food stores in America is sold in a white powder form. It is important to check the ingredient label on the pouch to make sure that you are getting pure, crushed stevia leaf. Some brands add dextrose and maltodextrin, which are both carbohydrates derived from starch, usually genetically modified (GMO) corn. Dextrose is a form of glucose itself, and maltodextrin contains MSG. It has also been shown to cause tooth decay.
Other brands add erythritol, a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols can cause bloating and digestive disturbances, as they are not completely absorbed by the body. It is also usually made from GMO corn. If you do purchase stevia, make sure the the only ingredient is stevia, not other sweeteners.
The absolute best way to enjoy stevia is fresh from your home garden or window box. It is surprisingly easy to grow, and has the added benefit of having natural, non-toxic insect-repelling qualities. One study discovered that stevia plants are distasteful to grasshoppers.
To begin, visit a nursery or herbalist in your area to find the best quality of starter plants. Alternately, you may purchase starter plants online. Plant these in your garden, or a 10” by 12” container, in rich soil. Make sure not to over-water them, and take care that the roots of the new plants do not become too cold. Once the plants mature, harvest, dry and crush the leaves, and you will be well on your way to natural sweetness.
Have you planted stevia in your garden?
– The Alternative Daily