Today it takes a lot to consume products that overnight jump to the shelves of supermarkets. This is the case of stevia, the alternative to sweeten “healthier”. But is it really the best sweetener in the world? What is the difference between stevia and steviol?
Stevia is a plant of natural origin with a great sweetening power and, in addition, it is caloric. Its consumption is forbidden because of that in the supermarket we do not find the stevia leaves as such spread over the shelves. So what do we drink when we take stevia?
The Stevia Rebaudiana (plant) itself is natural. However, the food additive E-960, better known as steviol glucoside and whose consumption was approved in Europe in 2011 (Regulation 1131/2011), has little natural. The same happens with other sweeteners in the market.
It is not healthy sweetener everything that glitters
Before buying, you have to check all the labels of the products that are in the supermarket and sold as stevia. Most manufacturers add to the compound other substances that adulterate the final result. The consumer believes that he is buying stevia (the plant) because, often, he puts it with large letters on the label designed, in addition, in green to give an appearance of natural.
Although its leaves have a capacity to sweeten between 300 and 450 times higher than that of sugar, its consumption is not authorized since the plant contains some substances with pharmacological activity, in fact it is hypotensive, among other things.
To obtain the steviol glucoside (what is marketed as stevia), it is necessary to dry the plant. Then, many of its active principles are extracted, such as nanofiltered ones that are later crystallized by vacuum evaporators.
As you see, it has little natural. It is a manufacturing process involving chemical elements. And as a result you get a resulting product is between 200 and 300 times sweeter than sugar, stable to heat but not fermentable.
Also, to give you an idea, the consumption of stevia is limited to 4 mg / Kg of weight and day. While the consumption of aspartame, another of the sweeteners in focus, is at 40 mg / kg of weight and day. Therefore, the consumption of steviol is not as healthy as they make us believe.
What are the benefits of stevia?
It seems complicated that after all the above is left to list some benefits of stevia. As in all cases there are those who are in favor and those who are against. The supposed benefits of stevia (plant) have been tried to transfer as such to the consumption of the additive. Which is a mistake because the plant contains components with pharmacological activity, some with hypotensive activity, others capable of causing infertility. When using the plant we can not say which compounds we want to make the effect at each moment. This is why the commercial use of the plant for food purposes is not in Europe.
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