Dec 31, 2009

Stevia: The Sweet Herb

I could go on and on about all the things wrong with artificial sweeteners.  I mean volumes and volumes about how they cause cancer, they still make you fat and they give you diarrhea...  I'm not going to do that because you should know that a few calories is better than cancer.
Now, sugar addicts, don't despair.  You don't have to choose between eating your weight in calories from sugar or getting cancer and diarrhea!  You can try Stevia. Stevia has been around forever.  Why haven't you heard of it before then?  Well the FDA has claimed it wasn't a safe food additive. Why am I talking about it if the FDA didn't deem it safe?  Well the truth is the FDA did virtually no studies on it, therfore they did not deem it safe. It's not because they did study it and found it to be dangerous.  No, in fact many like myself believe that the reason they did no studies and even blocked it from being imported like it was some kind of crack is because it's an herb.  And you can't own the patents or copyrights on an herb.  Therefor there aren't many companies who would make massive profits on the hopes and dreams of overweight people, hoping to satisfy their addiction to sugar with a non calorie substitute.  If there are no companies making massive profits who's going to "give" you that vacation to Bermuda for 6 weeks?  (I am indeed an FDA conspiracy theorist)

So really stevia has been used forever as a sweetener, just not here (USA). If you google it online "stevia side effects", you may find some  references to a small study on lab rats where they had a slight decrease in testosterone.  I tend to believe that if you force feed anyone an excessive amount of anything it will have side effects.  But because Stevia is so sweet you only need the smallest amounts.
Now there are great Stevia products at the store.  My favorite and the most affordable is Sun Crystals. It has a small amount of sugar mixed in it.  They do this because the packets are equivalent to 2 tsp sugar in flavor and that much stevia is such a small amount it would be difficult to package.  Each serving is 5 calories.  It's really good in teas, coffee and makes really good lemonade. Just follow the recipe on the bottle of lemon juice and substitute Stevia.  You can even bake with it.  Unfortunately the flavor does not meld well with chocolate.  So I suppose we will all just have to continue using will power to keep ourselves from eating our weight in chocolate every month!


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