So, what is stevia?
Stevia is a sugar replacement. Like sugar, you can use it in baking, cooking,or to sweeten your tea! Stevia can be part of your healthy lifestyle because it has 0 calories – so you can enjoy sweetness without the guilt! Best of all, stevia is completely natural and is safe for your body. The result is a delicious substitute for sugar which is actually sweeter per unit weight than granulated sugar, but with zero carbs, zero calories, and a glycemic index value (GI value) of zero.
Natural Stevia (top; in the scoop) vs. table sugar (bottom; in the spoon)
How is stevia different than other sugar-replacement sweeteners like splenda, sweet-n-low, etc.?
Firstly, Stevia is the only commercially-available sweetener which doesn’t intensify sugar cravings. Secondly, one of the best things about stevia is that it is NOT an artifical sweetener. Many artifical sweeteners like splenda, sweet-n-low, and other calorie-free sweeteners have chemical compounds in them that may be harmful to your body (aspartame). Other sweeteners are made from sugar alcohols like Maltitol or Sorbital can cause laxative effects (excess gas after consuming too many sugar alcohols). Stevia is not like any of these artificial sweeteners. Stevia is a completely safe, all-natural sweetener extracted from plants (the herb stevia rebaudiana). This herb has been used as a sweetener and natural remedy for over 1,500 years by native communities in Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia. Also, for other artifical sweeteners, you may replace them 1:1 to sugar. Stevia is actually sweeter per unit weight than granulated sugar, so you only need to use a very small amount of stevia to replace sugar, due to the extreme sweet taste that is extracted from the leaves.
How is stevia made?
Stevia is naturally extracted from plants! Stevia comes from the herb stevia rebaudiana. This sweetness in stevia is extracted from the leaves of stevia rebaudiana and turned into a powder, liquid or tablet form for you to enjoy. In the leaves of this plant are compounds called glycosides, which are extremely sweet. The extracted stevia is actually sweeter per unit weight than granulated sugar, so you only need to use a very small amount of stevia to replace sugar, due to the extreme sweet taste that is extracted from the leaves.
Stevia leaves and dried stevia leaves, as well as liquid, pills and powder forms of stevia after extraction.
However, this extraction process is why it is extremely important to purchase a good quality brand of stevia. The leaves of the stevia plant produce sweet Reb-A compounds, but also bitter Reb-B compounds. Most Stevia brands on the market cut costs by using low-purity Reb-A extract from the plant (usually 60-80%) resulting a bitter aftertaste. This bitter taste is why some people do not like stevia at all. Many companies also blend their low-quality Stevia with additives like maltodextrin, inulin, or dextrose, resulting in a product which does not allow consumers to enjoy the full benefits of this sweet gift of nature. However, in recent years, improvements to extraction technology have help evolve Stevia’s formulation, isolating the sweet component, Reb-A, and eliminating the bitter component, Reb-B. In searching for the best brand of Stevia I could find, I came across Greeniche Stevia. Greeniche Stevia is made with 99.8% Reb-A, which is unparalleled in the world. It is exceptionally sweet and is not bitter like some other Stevia brands. Greeniche Stevia provided me with the full nutritional information for their line of stevia products:
Nutritional Information for Greeniche Stevia – For more information, see www.greeniche.com
After using Greeniche Stevia extensively personally, I recommend their line as my Stevia of choice. It is affordable and can be found online or in many Canadian health & food stores.
For more information and to order online, visit www.greeniche.com.
Where can I buy stevia?
Stevia can be bought from most health & food stores. Be careful to read the labels and make sure your stevia is not mixed with other ingredients such as Dextrose, Maltitol or Sorbitol (many stevia brands do this!). If you are buying liquid stevia, most liquid stevia contain alcohol and are thus not halal.
In comparison, Greeniche stevia is halal, 100% Vegetarian, non-GMO and dairy-free. It comes in powders, tablets and convenient packets for you to use in baking, tea, desserts, and anywhere else you may use sugar! Greeniche Stevia also includes a brand of liquid stevia, Flavorall, which is one of the only liquid stevia in the world that is alcohol-free. It comes in a wide range of delicious natural flavours, as well, which are great for smoothies or baking.
To order Greeniche stevia of Flavorall liquid stevia online, visit www.greeniche.com.
To find them in Canadian grocery stores, click here for Greeniche Stevia store locator. You may want to call the store in advance to make sure they have the right flavours and form of stevia you are after!
So, next time you get an urge to drink some chai, be sure to have stevia ready at home so you can try it out on the road to becoming a sugar-free Muslim!