It’s only early November, but we’ve already hit the wall from an overload of sugar in our diets. Thankfully, there’s a ton of choices when it comes to healthier and all natural sweeteners (stay clear of the artificial stuff!). Stevia has been on our radar for a while now, and with so many health-conscious companies coming out with their own varieties, it can get a little confusing trying to pick out the best ones.
Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana, is a member of the sunflower family. It is also referred to as sweet leaf or sugar leaf due to its incredibly sweet flavor. Nearly 300 times sweeter than white sugar, it is is commonly used as a natural sweetener. With little-to-no glycemic index and zero calories, it has gained recognition as an all natural, alternative sweetener for those looking to cut a few calories without sacrificing health.
Being so sweet, a little goes a very long way – about one teaspoon is equivalent to one cup of white sugar, so you get the idea. Of course, the brand and type you use will also influence the overall flavor and quality. It’s also important to note that not all stevia products are created equal. With so many brands out there, many are super processed and include additives that can mess with your digestive system, transforming a healthy pick into something more like artificial sweeteners, so read on…
High: Nature’s Candy Stevia Extract
With absolutely no fillers, additives, or artificial ingredients, Nature’s Candy is a highly concentrated stevia extract and nothing else. The concentrated powdered form makes it easy to use in baking and cooking preparations. And the company even provides an easy conversion chart to help you know exactly how much to use.
Midpoint: Omica Liquid Stevia
With so many brands filled with preservatives and fillers, this makes us even bigger fans of Omica. Omica is minimally processed and not reconstituted, which accounts for the bitter aftertaste that is commonly attributed to stevia sweeteners. It is completely organic and natural; the only other ingredients used are vegetable glycerin (which helps to add to the sweet flavor), and alcohol. Both are used as a base and solvent, helping to preserve the stevia. Using stevia leaves grown from self-sustaining, family-owned farms, then dried using sunlight and fresh air, a product doesn’t get more natural than this.
Low: Whole Stevia Leaves
Dried or fresh stevia in its whole, unprocessed form, is probably the healthiest way to use stevia. Stevia in its whole leaf form is best used for beverages: Try adding a leaf or two to your favorite iced or warm cup of tea or coffee. The powdered leaves can also be used in culinary preparations, but be warned, the taste is much earthier in flavor than the extracted versions. We like Starwest Botanicals because they are certified organic and sell, both whole and powdered, unprocessed, stevia leaves. You might be inspired and even buy your own stevia plant – or grow one from seed – and have fresh stevia whenever you want it!
I live in the UK and neither brand is available (not even shipped from the USA it seems). Can you recommend any brands that are available internationally? Thanks!