What a Sweet Deal
Most people have heard of stevia as a sweetener – but, have you also heard of what its nutrient abilities can do? Well, let’s find out.
The Guarani people of Paraguay are responsible for one of the best nutritional discoveries of recent centuries. As long as 1500 years ago, the Guarani discovered a native plant called “kaa he-he” (which means “sweet herb”). It had delicious green leaves with amazing sweetening power. In fact, it can be 30 to 300 times sweeter than sugar, depending on how it is processed.
The Guarani would chew a few leaves or added crushed leaves to their “hot mate” (kind of bitter like coffee). The leaves sweetened the drinks (kind of like our sugar in coffee) and, just like we do, the Guarani appreciated sweet-tasting foods and drinks!
Gradually, the Guarani found that this sweet plant had other uses besides its sugary taste. (More of that in a minute) But it wasn’t long before settlers from Europe discovered Kaa He-He.
‘Kaa He-He’ Becomes Stevia
In 1887, Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni heard his Paraguay native guides describe a “very strange plant”. He received some kaa he-he leaves from a plantation in the north, announced his “discovery” of the new species in a botanical journal. He named the plant Stevia Rebaudiana in honor of a chemist who would name the plant’s sweetness component “stevia”.
Stevia began its journey from native plant to worldwide sweetener. Soon, the miracle kaa he-he plant had spread to neighboring Brazil, Argentina, other parts of Latin America and over to Asia.
Stevia wasn’t popular in Europe but, in 1931, two French chemists isolated stevioside, the pure white crystalline extract that gives stevia its super sweet taste. Now manufacturers had a potential alternative to sugar.
In the 1960’s, the Japanese government had banned synthetic sweeteners in their food supply. This caused them to conduct extensive studies to confirm stevia’s safety. After confirming its safety, Japan became a major producer of stevia.
Recognizing that stevia was a safer choice than aspartame and saccharin, by 1994 stevia reportedly comprised 41% of the sweet substances consumed in Japan! Today stevia grows and is used in 10 other countries including China, Germany, Malaysia, Israel and South Korea.
The Great American Rip-Off
In 1991, the FDA banned stevia. A law in 1994 forced the FDA to allow stevia as a “dietary supplement”. However, stevia was still banned as a food additive (all synthetic sweeteners are classified as food additives).
Now, why in the world, with all the research that had been done for decades, did the FDA do that? It is quite a coincidence that Monsanto was deeply into the sales of their newly-patented sweetener, aspartame. Add in the sugar industry and natural stevia would surely be unwanted competition to billions in profits.
In 2008, the FDA gave approval to a couple large corporations who developed patented chemically refined forms of stevia but pure stevia extract must continue to be labeled as a “dietary supplement”. Make no mistake, money rules in health – not the public’s wellbeing!
Health Benefits of Stevia Powder
The lowered sugar intake is obviously good for diabetes and weight. But the green herbal powder has medical benefits many people are not aware of.
The Guarani people used this sweet plant for:
- Softening skin
- Aiding digestion
- Nourishing the pancreas
- Balancing blood sugar
- Smoothing wrinkles
- Healing blemishes, sores and wounds
After a bit more research, here’s how people around the world use stevia, the green herb.
- Physicians in Paraguay prescribe stevia leaf tea for diabetes.
- In Brazil, capsules with the green herb are used for diabetes.
- The stevia herb is used to regulate the digestive tract and increase energy.
- The herb regulates blood sugar and both the herb and white powder are safe for those who have hypoglycemia and diabetes.
- Stevia herb and white powder appear to help prevent tooth decay.
- In China and Asia people drink stevia leaf tea for its anti-aging benefits.
Stevia extract tastes great and is safe for us! It is so intensely sweet that a dozen drops of the diluted liquid made from the white powder is all you need to turn sour lemon into delicious lemonade. It is easy to use for sweetening hot or cold drinks, your favorite foods and even desserts.
It is also a safe sugar alternative for children. Millions are struggling with obesity, diabetes, depression, hormone imbalances, ADD, ADHD and autism. Now, they too, can enjoy sweet-tasting treats without the dangers of sugar.
Also, many younger people with systemic yeast infection and viral issues must eliminate sugar in any form from their diets while conquering these infections. Stevia is certainly a place to start.
Discover a delicious alternative to sugar and other dangerous sugar substitutes that tastes great! From Paraguay to China and back again, stevia has made its way to those who need it: anyone who wants to enjoy a sweet taste without compromising their health.
We hope that more and more people will discover what the Guarani natives knew centuries ago – that some sweets can indeed be good for you.