Stevia (botanical name: Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni) is a bushy shrub that grows in the wild in Central and South America, reaching a height of 60cm. Its leaves contain various naturally sweet compounds (steviol glycosides) and have been used for hundreds of years by indigenous South American populations. It was originally discovered in Paraguay roughly 2,000 years ago by the Guarani people, who called it Ka’a He’e (sweet herb).
Stevia was identified by Swiss naturalist Dr Bertoni during an 1887 expedition into the Paraguayan highlands. Upon tasting leaves plucked from a fresh stevia plant for the first time, Bertoni declared “the sweetening power of kaa he-e is so superior to sugar.”
Stevia was “discovered” again in 1970 by the Japanese. They soon began cultivating the plant, and it now accounts for 40% of the country’s sweetener market. In the United States, stevia gained FDA approval as a food additive in 1995. Since then, its popularity has skyrocketed, and it currently sits at second place among sugar substitutes.
In April 2010, after toxicological assessment, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that the sweetening compounds (steviol glycosides) extracted from leaves of the Stevia plant pose no risk to human health. On 11 November 2011, the European Commission approved Stevia as a food safe for consumption (Commission Regulation (EU) No 1131/2011).
Due to its numerous health benefits, many characterise stevia as the “plant of the new millennium”. With its unique properties, the benefits of stevia in countering the nutritional challenges of the modern world, such as obesity, diabetes and hypoglycemia, are clear. For decades, stevia has been used as a natural dietary substitute in place of sugar and artificial sweeteners by those seeking a healthier lifestyle, as well as by those who can’t consume sugar, such as diabetics and people striving to lose weight.
Stevia grows in the wild in Central and South America. In recent years, following the tremendous explosion in demand, Stevia cultivation has expanded to Asia and other countries across the world. Recently, cultivation has begun in Greece, specifically across farms in Thessaly and Macedonia.
Stevia, depending on how it has been processed, can be found in 5 basic forms that differ significantly in taste, sweetness, ease of use, etc:
Fresh stevia leaves
Dried stevia leaves
Powdered stevia extract
Liquid stevia concentrate
Other varieties (stevia blends)
Stevia powder extracts are combined with other ingredients, resulting in various stevia sweeteners (stevia blends). Due to the high-intensity sweetness of stevia extracts, which can taste 100-300 times sweeter than sugar, it is common practice to add a “carrier”, such as maltodextrin or some other mild sweetening agent, to balance the intensity. In this way, stevia sweeteners can end up having one-to-two times the perceived sweetness of sugar, making them easier to use in daily life.
Fresh leaves: in their purest form, stevia leaves contain sweetening compounds accounting for 14-22% of all leaf components (8-12% Glycosides, of which 5-8% are Stevioside and 1-2% Rebaudioside). In order to take practical advantage of their sweetening and beneficial properties, the leaves must be dried or passed through an extraction process, which improves their flavour and enhances sweetness.
Dried leaves: these are fresh leaves that have been cut into small pieces (Tea Cut Leaves) or milled into a thin dust, which is usually 10-15 times sweeter than regular sugar and has a strong, liquorice-like taste. They can be used to sweeten beverages and in cooking, but they do not dissolve.
Powdered stevia extracts: sweetening compounds (steviol glycosides) are extracted from the dry leaves through a distillation process similar to that used in tea preparation. Depending on the glycosides concentration, extracts of Stevioside (40-50% glycosides) and Rebaudioside A (80-95% glycosides, and 200-300 times sweeter than regular sugar) are obtained. Stevia extracts are not all the same. Their sweetness and cost depend on their degree of purity and the quality of the stevia plants that were used. High quality extracts (Reb-A) do not have a noticeable aftertaste and form the basis for the production of quality stevia sweeteners. It is recommended that you carefully read the ingredients label on any stevia product.
Liquid stevia extracts: available as a solution or concentrate, liquid stevia is derived directly from dried leaves or from stevia extracts which have been dissolved in water, alcohol or glycerine.
Other varieties (stevia blends): powdered stevia extracts are combined with other ingredients to balance their high-intensity sweetness. The resulting blends are the most popular forms of stevia sweetener available on the market. However, many stevia sweeteners have a bitter aftertaste, and not all are natural or zero-calorie. We’ve found that the stevia blend with the best results is made using the natural alcohol erythritol.
Deligio Stevia is aimed at those who want to adopt healthier eating habits, including diabetics of all ages. Deligio Stevia has zero calories and scores zero on the glycemic index, meaning it does not affect blood sugar levels. This makes it suitable for those struggling with diabetes or obesity.
Stevia is an ideal alternative to sugar and other common sweeteners, and can be enjoyed by the whole family. It is a table-top sweetener and can be used in the creation of sweet recipes for adults as well as children.
For weight loss, Green Tea Plus with Pomegranate or Coffee Plus instant coffee with Green Tea Extract are recommended. The catechins present in green tea help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and increasing metabolic rate. Weight loss results are even more significant when consumption is combined with healthy and balanced nutrition and light exercise, such as walking.
Additionally, Deligio Stevia from natural Stevia leaf extract, which is available in different types of practical packaging, is suitable for those following a balanced diet or those who are striving to lose weight. It has zero calories, and one teaspoon is exactly equivalent to a teaspoon of sugar in sweetness.
Finally, our Chocolate Drink with Stevia leaves you feeling satisfied and full due to its balanced composition, and its rich protein and fibre content.
The Glycemic Index indicates how fast or slowly the carbohydrate content of a food increases blood sugar levels. High Glycemic Index foods cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, while those with a low Glycemic Index increase sugar levels slowly and steadily. Clinical studies show that low Glycemic Index foods tend to help with weight loss, while those with a high Glycemic Index help recover energy after exertion.
People with type 1 or 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin, which is needed to metabolise sugar. This means their blood sugar levels can become dangerously high and have serious repercussions on their health. Low Glycemic Index foods are digested more slowly, and can therefore help manage blood sugar levels.
However, the Glycemic Index does not indicate the degree to which blood sugar levels will actually be increased. This depends on the amount of carbohydrates contained within the portion of food to be consumed and is indicated by the the Glycemic Load. For this reason, it is important to calculate the Glycemic Load by multiplying a food’s Glycemic Index (as a percentage) by the number of net carbohydrates in a given serving to help you determine the ideal portion size.
Foods are classified according to their Glycemic Index as:
Low Glycemic Index: 55 or less
Moderate Glycemic Index: 56-69
Low Glycemic Index: 70 or above
Foods are classified according to their Glycemic Load as:
Low Glycemic Load: 10 or less
Moderate Glycemic Load: 11-19
Low Glycemic Load: 20 or above
In evaluating a food, it is necessary to consider both the Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Load. For example, watermelon has a high Glycemic Index (GI = 80), but a 120g portion of watermelon only has a Glycemic Load of 5, which is considered low.
Deligios products support the consumer in their quest for a healthier lifestyle. Our Deligio Stevia, Lemon Verbena & Sea Buckthorn Beverage, Oat Flapjack Bars and Chocolate Drink with Stevia can all be enjoyed by those receiving homeopathic treatment. However, Deligios Coffee Plus instant coffee with Green Tea Extract is not recommended if you’re undergoing homeopathic treatment as it contains caffeine. We also recommend you consult your homeopathic doctor regarding Green Tea Plus with Pomegranate, especially if you’ve been instructed to eliminate caffeine entirely.