What is Stevia?
It’s a classic catch-22 that foods high in sugar are the most delicious, but also the least healthy. Enter Stevia – a natural sweetener championed as an alternative to sugar that is just as tasty but kinder on your waistline. So, can Stevia be directly swapped for sugar in your diet and is it any good for you? We spoke to Wladimir Budnik, head of the education department at Vitality Brands to find out, because let’s face it, a world without brownies is not a world I want to live in.
What is Stevia?
Wladimir explains that Stevia comes from the leaves of a native Uruguayan plant and is traditionally used as a sweetening herb. It’s even sweeter than John Legend’s musical tributes to Chrissy Teigen with, “approximately 150 times the sweetness level of sugar.” Stevia was approved by Australian food regulators as a food additive and intensive sweetener in 2008.
How much can you eat?
It turns out there’s actually no recommended daily limit for Stevia consumption, however Wladimir tells us that the amount of Stevia in processed foods and beverages is at a level that is unlikely to ever exceed an ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake) of 4milligrams/kg of body weight. So, there’s no need to log your intake!
Can you directly swap it for sugar?
Commercially produced Stevia can be swapped spoon for spoon as a replacement for sugar in recipes and beverages, as it’s been blended specifically for use as a substitute. However, Wladimir explains that powdered Stevia extract is impractical to use as an ingredient at home as approximately 0.033g is the equivalent of a spoonful of sugar, meaning you need to use some serious maths to swap it out in recipes – no thanks!
Does it have any nutritional value?
Technically the answer is no - Stevia has no nutritional value. However, using it instead of sugar replaces the sweetness of sugar while eliminating the calories, which is definitely a win-win for summer diets!
So, when you’re brewing your morning coffee, whipping up a batch of choc bickies or planning your weekly meals, swapping out sugar for Stevia is a sure-fire way to keep your diet on track. There are also some products that use Stevia which make great snacks when you’re craving something naughty, like sugar-free chocolate (yep, that’s a thing and all my dreams just came true). Here are some of our faves:
2. NOSHU Donut
Have you heard of Stevia? Would you use it as a replacement for sugar?