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Old 09-20-2005, 05:20 PM   #1
Matthew Scoble
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Does anyone know anything about stevia? I've been using it for a while in place of Splenda or Equal, both of which give me a headache. From what I know, it is an herb that is many times sweeter than sugar. I use it in coffee and oatmeal, and it sweetens very well, I just want to make sure it doesn't have any hidden dangers or reasons not to use it.

Thanks,
Matt
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Old 09-21-2005, 05:35 PM   #2
Jesse Woody
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From what I remember from the Crossfit Live with Robb Wolfe, there have been studies that have shown that the sweetness of stevia along with artificial sweetners can actually cause a similar insulin response as sugar. Other than that, I don't know a lot about it...
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Old 09-21-2005, 05:51 PM   #3
Michael Hill
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Stevia the herb is a small green plant bearing leaves which have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 30 times sweeter than sugar. Besides the intensely sweet glycosides (Steviosides, Rebaudiosides and a Dulcoside), various studies have found the leaf to contain proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, zinc, rutin (a flavonoid), true vitamin A, Vitamin C and an oil which contains 53 other constituents. Quality Stevia leaves and whole leaf concentrate are nutritious, natural dietary supplements offering numerous health benefits.

The product you are most likely talking about is not Stevia leaf or or concentrate, but refined Steviosides or Rebaudiosides, as they 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. Stevioside is a desirable sweetener, because it does not have the deleterious effect associated with artificial sweeteners, but it does not have the same health benefits of the Stevia leaf or products made from whole leaf Stevia concentrate.

Regardless, because the human body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides (they pass right through the normal elimination channels) from the leaf or any of its processed forms, the body obtains no calories from Stevia. Processed forms of pure Stevia can be 70-400 times sweeter than sugar. Whether these products are called Stevia, Stevioside, Rebaudioside, Stevia Extract, or Stevia Concentrate, if they are in their pure unadulterated form} they do not adversely affect blood glucose levels; however because glucose levels are not affected that does not mean they can't elevated insulin levels.

Oh yeah, and it certainly taste a heck of a lot better than other sugar substitutes IMO.
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Old 09-22-2005, 05:15 AM   #4
Scott Kustes
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Michael, the stevia I have at home is an opaque liquid (dark brown or black). Is that refined or not? It says stevia extract.
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Old 09-22-2005, 09:36 AM   #5
Matthew Scoble
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Thanks, everyone. Good information. I didn't realize it could cause an insulin increase.
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Old 09-23-2005, 07:59 AM   #6
Michael Hill
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Scott,

I'm not really sure if it is a refined version or not. For all the idiot savant type info I typed above the real world implications of Steiva use are pretty inconsequental for a number of reasons. First, stevia can really be cooked or baked with like a sugar substitute, unless you're drinking a ton of coffee or tea, etc it's really difficult to consume stevia in large quatities. Second, the amount of harm occasional use is going to do is really no biggie. If someone is that concerned with keeping a low insulin release you have to get over the psychological and physical addiction and stop using all sweeteners all together.

The real benefit of stevia is when a sweetener is necessary to make a product palitable like protein powders and such as it is really the only alternative to fake sugar substitutes. But here again, if you taking protein powder is a little stevia really going to make a difference in performance or health, probably not.

So basically, from a health-nut point of view don't eat stevia. From a real world, cost benefit point of view, use stevia if you are going to use a sweetener and replace all other sugar substitutes with it. It is not worth it from a monetary/time/stress point to freak out over stevia or go search for an unrefined version. Honestly, fretting over what harm stevia could do will do you more harm than its use.
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Old 09-23-2005, 11:03 AM   #7
Lisa Sanfilippo
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Hi Scott, If your seriously concerned, you can grow it yourself. That's what I do. It grows very easy and in large amounts. I pick the leaves and put into protien shakes. I use the store powdered stuff for coffee.
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