Stevia is an exceptional aid in weight loss and weight management because it contains no calories and reduces one's craving for sweets and fatty foods. Hunger sensations are lessened when 10 or 15 drops are taken 20 minutes before meals. Preliminary research data indicates that Stevia may actually reset the hunger mechanism in people where the pathway between the hypothalamus and the stomach has become obstructed. If so, Stevia would help people to feel satiated sooner, helping them to eat less.
Other benefits of adding Stevia to the daily diet include improved digestion and gastrointestinal function, soothed upset stomachs and quicker recovery' from minor illness. Users have also reported that drinking Stevia tea or Stevia enhanced teas helped to reduce their desire for tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Stevia concentrate tablets are available for those who want the medicinal benefits of Stevia concentrate in an easy to swallow tablet form.
The Stevia Leaf
Stevia leaves vary widely in quality due to many environmental factors including soil, irrigation methods, sunlight, air purity, cleanliness, farming practices, processing and storage. There are also numerous species of Stevia with differing Stevioside/Rebaudioside content. Bacterial and fungal contamination is a serious problem and one must be careful about the original source of Stevia. Chinese Stevia leaves are a poor quality, containing only 5-6% of the sweet Steviosides/Rebaudiosides, while Paraguayan leaves contain 9-13%. Stevia should be compared according to aroma, taste, appearance and sweetness.
Leaves are available in tea bags (only from Wisdom of the Ancients at the time of writing) and make a delicious tea. Tea bags may be placed in any beverage desired and make a delightful lemonade. The sweet glycosides are released more rapidly in hot liquid than in cool liquid. You may want to place a tea bag in a small amount of hot water for a few minutes and then add the sweetened water to the beverage. A mild Stevia tea offers excellent relief for an upset stomach. After use, a Stevia tea bag placed over the eyes (similar to using a cucumber) for a few minutes effectively tightens the skin and smoothes out wrinkles.
Ground Stevia is excellent when sprinkled lightly over cooking vegetables and meats, cereals and salads. Besides adding its own sweet taste it significantly enhances the flavor and nutritional value of the food. Ground Stevia can be used in many cooking and baking applications.
Refined Steviosides & Rebaudiosides are the sweetest form of Stevia and may be purchased in a semi-white powder form (usually referred to as an extract) or in a clear liquid made by adding the powder to water and a preservative. The powder may be added directly to food and beverage but in very tiny amounts. The liquid is used drop by drop.
Stevioside has over 50% of the commercial sweetening market in Japan, which consumes 90% of the world's supply of Stevia leaves. The refined Chinese Stevioside product is only 80-91% pure and some samples have been found to be high in pathogens. There is no Paraguayan Stevioside manufacturing as of this writing. Wisdom of the Ancients will market a 98% Stevioside/Rebaudioside product in the fall of 1997.
Although Stevioside is a desirable sweetener it does not have the extraordinary health benefits of the Stevia leaf or products made from whole leaf Stevia concentrate.