Is stevia healthy? What is steviolglycoside?
Sugar free eating or sugar free diet? Does stevia offer the solution?
Stevia is hot and seems to be the ultimate sweetener. Indeed, Stevia contains no calories and has a glycaemic index of 0 therefore there won’t be any fluctuations in blood sugar level. This seems to be great news if you want to eat sugar-free or follow a sugar-free diet. But stevia is not a steviolglycoside. This is nevertheless what is sold as stevia. It is the food additive E 960 (and therefore not sugar). The stevia plant or stevia leaves may not be sold as sweetener in Europe. Sweetened with stevia is a forbidden choice of words because one would then refer to the entire leaf and not the isolated (refined) sweet food additive steviolglycoside E960! Steviolglycoside is a refined product that is obtained from several extractions performed in succession, followed by a recrystallization. On 17/6/1999, the European Commission asked its scientific nutritional committee for advice. The Committee confirmed its earlier opinion “that steviolglycosides are not acceptable as a sweetener”. Caution is therefore appropriate but sporadic use is quite possible. But steviolglycosides, just like refined sugars, are not appropriate for daily use.
- E960 was admitted in 2011 but maximum permitted doses were recommended, depending on the food from 0.1 up to max 2 g per kg of finished product. Thus the recommended daily maximum dosage would not be exceeded (4mg/kg body weight).
- Stevia (steviolglycosides) does not give you energy. The hunger remains.
- The stevia which is authorised in Belgium is steviolglycoside, an isolated refined product of the leaves of the stevia plant. The somewhat bitter metallic taste is not equally acceptable to everyone. This bitter metallic taste is therefore often camouflaged by all kinds of fillers.
- Steviolglycoside is also up to 300 x sweeter than ordinary sugar and therefore difficult to dose. You need very little stevia to sweeten. The small volume necessitates a carrier. Be careful of this carrier when buying a stevia product; it is often maltodextrin, an unhealthy sugar with a high glycaemic index. If you choose a stevia product , always choose erythritol, dextrin or the amino-acids glycine and leucine as carrier. As with all foodstuffs, it is best to inspect the ingredients list if you want to buy a stevia product. Thus you will avoid buying a product containing only a small percentage steviolglycoside with the addition of other cheaper (sometimes chemical) additives.
Is eating sugar free with stevia (actually steviolglycoside) healthy (healthier)? No, for daily use choose unrefined natural sugars such as fruit, honey, coconut blossom sugar, maple syrup (and agave syrup). Forget a sugar free diet with stevia. You will stay hungry…