Stevia for use as a natural sweetener for better health.
Stevia can be used as a natural sugar substitute or sweetener. The degree of sweetness of stevioside is superior to ordinary sugar in 200 – 300 times.
The stevia cultivation and harvesting
Chemical composition of stevia
Stevia is a perennial plant of the family Asteraceae and has more than 200 varieties. Propagated by seed, root division and stem branches.
Stevia used as a natural sweetener and as a preservative. The sweetness is due to glycosides of stevia (a sweet low-calorie complex substances), commonly referred to as stevioside.
The degree of sweetness of stevioside is superior to ordinary sugar in 200 – 300 times. One per cent aqueous extract of stevia corresponds to twenty percent of the sugar syrup, stevia that is 20 times sweeter than sugar. Thus, 1 kg of fresh leaves replaces the sweetness of 20 kg of sugar.
Stevioside has antibacterial function, so it can be used in the treatment of small wounds in the form of burns, scratches and bruises. It promotes rapid healing of wounds, rapid blood clotting and get rid of the infection.
Do not confuse stevia with milk.
Stevia has and contraindications to be aware of. The leaves of stevia (at doses higher than necessary for the purpose of sweetening) possess hypoglycemic action. Patients with diabetes need to use large amounts of stevia with caution and monitor blood sugar, take medications may need to be adjusted. Also the leaves of stevia (at doses higher than necessary for the purpose of sweetening) have a hypotensive effect (lowers blood pressure). People with low blood pressure and those taking antihypertensive drugs should avoid using large amounts of stevia and monitor blood pressure.
Use stevia instead of sugar:
– stevia is sweeter than sugar more than 20-200 times.
– helps with skin diseases;
– stevia normalizes blood pressure;
– helps to reduce blood sugar levels;
– normalizes the work of digestive system;
– restores liver function;
– has diuretic properties that helps to cleanse the body of toxins;
– has zero calories;
– helps to lose weight and reduce cravings for fatty foods (the body does not assimilate sweetening components of stevia);
– it has antioxidant activity;
– stevia can be used in the treatment of minor wounds.
The stevia cultivation and harvesting:
The soil for growing stevia:
Stevia prefers sandy or loamy, acidic, constantly moist but not flooded soils. Does not tolerate saline soils. In natural conditions the pH of the soil in which it grows stevia, 4-5. However, at home stevia is best grown in soil with a pH – 9. Soil for stevia should be clean, without residues of the roots of weeds or stones. This plant has surface roots, so it is very sensitive to the quality of the soil.
Light and temperature for growing stevia:
Stevia needs almost constant lighting and can’t stand the cold wind and frost. It is a subtropical plant that requires a humid climate. The temperature of the soil in which the seedlings can be transplanted is at least 10-15 degrees. The minimum temperature that stevia may vigoriti – 5 degrees, but it is dangerous for her.
Watering and fertilizer for the cultivation of stevia:
Pour stevia to gently, as excess moisture can cause root rot and decrease the sweetness of the leaves. If you use fertilizer, then they should be low in nitrogen content.
About stevia leaves:
The more stevia blossoms, the less it leaves gives. The leaves are collected during budding, less sweet than the leaves picked during flowering. Dry stevia leaves are stored in jars, closed with parchment paper.
To obtain extracts of dried or fresh stevia leaves crushed, pour cold water, bring to a boil and hold for one hour at a temperature of 98— 100°C — stevioside resistant to high temperatures. The prepared extract can be stored for days at temperatures of 20-30°C and in a refrigerator at a temperature not exceeding 4°C for up to three days.
Chemical composition of stevia:
– minerals — calcium, manganese, fluorine, phosphorus, cobalt, aluminium, selenium, chromium;
– vitamins — vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin K, Riboflavin, nicotinic acid;
– essential oils — oil of camphor, and lemon;
– flavonoids — rutin, querticin, avicularin, quavering, apigenin;
– arachidonic acid — a natural herbicide and a neuromodulator.
Stevia is used:
– to replace sugar;
– to replace artificial sweeteners;
– as a food additive;
– in compotes, tea, confectionery.