From sachets at your local cafe to protein powders and cake mixes – stevia seems to be turning up everywhere.
And with sugar being linked to so many of today’s health problems, it’s no wonder natural alternatives are becoming popular.
But does stevia really live up to the hype? Let’s find out more about this sweet little number.
What exactly is stevia?
Stevia is a super-sweet, natural alternative to sugar that comes in powdered, sugared or liquid form. It’s used in foods and drinks, and sold either as tablets or granulated like sugar. That means you can add it to your cuppa if you like it sweet.
Stevia is made from the leaves of the stevia rebaudiana plant: a South American member of the sunflower family.Indigenous people in Paraguay and Brazil have been chewing stevia leaves and using them to sweeten their medicines and teas for more than 500 years.Today, stevia is grown and harvested mainly in these countries, plus Japan and China, and is available worldwide.
How is stevia made?
So, how do you go from the leaves of a plant to granules or a liquid? It’s simple:
- You start by picking and drying the leaves.
- You steep them in boiling hot water, just like tea.
- You remove them, filter and centrifuge the water, and then, voila! It turns into pure, concentrated stevia.
That’s it. You don’t add any artificial nasties or colours at any point in the process. Your stevia stays as natural as they come: the process for making it is just like for other plant-based extracts!
Pump up the sweetness
Stevia gets its sweetness from natural plant compounds called steviol glycosides. These little compounds each have their own unique flavour profile, so different combinations can provide different tastes and sweetness intensities. Cool, huh?
Generally speaking though, commercial stevia is a whopping 200-300 times sweeter than regular sugar!
Are drinks made with stevia good for you?
Despite being a powerhouse of sweetness, stevia is actually perfectly healthy. It’s what’s known as a ‘non-nutritive sweetener’, which basically means our bodies don’t store it, so it literally has zero calories.
On top of that, stevia doesn’t affect blood sugar levels or insulin response. It doesn’t cause cavities. And it doesn’t have any negative health impacts.
In fact, one study showed that stevia may even have a positive effect on insulin levels. And that study joins more than 40,000 others that concluded stevia is safe to use in foods. So you can get the sweet hit you crave without the guilt or worry.
And because stevia is natural, it’s a much better alternative to the not-so-natural artificial sweeteners you’ll find on the market. Research suggests that some popular artificial sweeteners can have nasty effects on health. For example, anything with sucralose can reduce insulin sensitivity and do a number on gut flora.
As a rule of thumb, we reckon it’s best to avoid anything artificial, full stop. When it comes to sweeteners, that means staying away from aspartame, sucralose, saccharine and neotame (to name a few).
Nexba Naturally Sugar Free: stevia + a little helper
It took us six years to find the perfect, safe, natural substitute for sugar. We were obsessed with finding the right blend: one that tastes and feels so great, you’d never know it wasn’t sugar.
In the Nexba blend, super-sweet stevia amps up the flavour, while erythritol mellows out the mouthfeel. Together, they’re as powerful as Kim and Kanye, providing a punch of healthy sweetness with zero calories or ick factor.
Something else you should know? We tweak the sweetener formula for every product we make to ensure it’s just right for the drink we’re producing. There’s no such thing as ‘good enough’ at Nexba – it’s an ongoing journey of innovation to bring you the products you love.