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I receive more and more inquiries these days about the safety of stevia. "Is stevia safe?" Absolutely. And here are some tips to keep stevia from tasting bitter.
Stevia has been used as a traditional remedy for diabetes and gum disease among the indigenous people of Paraguay and other South American countries for over 1,500-recorded years. Preliminary scientific evidence (performed by independent researchers) shows stevia may indeed improve the function of cells in the pancreas required for insulin production, and may also improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes. But according to the generations of people who have used stevia as a part of their daily diet, stevia has been proven to regulate blood sugar and has been used for decades as a treatment for diabetes and gum disease.
Unlike other sweeteners, stevia has been reported to possess anti-viral activity. Anecdotal evidence shows stevia possesses blood pressure lowering properties and may be a useful treatment for hypertension. Further research is needed, of course, to make this a formal statement; nonetheless, stevia users are experiencing these positive side effects to their benefit.
Prior to the on-slaughter of chemical sugar-substitutes, the need to "test" natural food products such as stevia has never been necessary, just as we find little need to test the herbs basil or thyme for negative side-effects. People who have used stevia for generations in South America, Japan, and Indonesian countries never use the amounts of stevia that modern consumers use of the artificial sweeteners. When questioning stevia's safety in comparison to the chemical sugar substitutes, we are not comparing apples to apples. They are two different things.
Stevia is a much safer sweetener alternative compared to the artificial chemicals created in laboratories, especially for use during pregnancy, for children, and for diabetics who stand to benefit from its soothing glucose effects. The key to eating any food properly, whether chemical food replacements or one hundred percent natural foods, is to be moderate in its use and monitor all artificial chemicals carefully.
Tips to avoid bitterness:
* Try different brands of stevia before giving up on it, as some are milder tasting than others.
* Stevia is much sweeter than Equal(TM) and the other chemical sweeteners, so use significantly less than you might think is necessary. Start with one-quarter the amount of stevia you'd use of the other sweeteners, and then increase as needed. The bitterness is usually a result of using too much.
Two natural cola products called "China Cola" and "Reeds Ginger Ale" are soft drinks that use natural sweeteners. These colas are wonderful and taste like the original old-fashioned colas of fifty years ago. They are excellent examples of how sweet-and-natural stevia and nature's other sweeteners really are. You can find these colas at your local health food store, co-op, or whole foods market. I recommend them for children, diabetics, and the elderly.
Posted August 2004 | Permanent Link
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