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Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Stevia rebaudiana

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Botanical Name : Stevia rebaudiana
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Eupatorieae
Genus: Stevia
Species:S. rebaudiana
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms : Eupatorium rebaudianum.

Common Names:Stevia, Candyleaf, Sweetleaf, Sweet leaf, or Sugarleaf

Habitat:Stevia rebaudiana is native to South AmericaBrazil, Paraguay. It grows on infertile, sandy acid soils with shallow water tables. This is normally in areas like the edge of mashes and grassland communities.

Description:
Stevia Rebaudiana is a sub-tropical plant and prefers a climate where the mean temperature is 75° F. and is always semi-humid. It thrives where it rains approximately 55″ each year. S. Rebaudiana is a herbaceous perennial shrub native to the highlands of Paraguay and sections of Argentina and Brazil that are situated along the 25th Degree Line, South Latitude.

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In the wild, Stevia grows to 2 feet in height while cultivated varieties grow to three feet. A spindly, many-branched plant with an interesting root system. Fine roots spread out on the surface of the soil, while a thicker part of the root grows deep into the soil. The stems are hairy, wand-like and covered with leaves. Leaves are opposite and toothed, fibrous and dark green. Flowers are white, tubular and bisexual. While the plant itself is not aromatic, the leaves are sweet to the taste and dry leaves are sweeter.

It is frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Stevia was discovered in 1887 by the South American Natural Scientist, Antonio Bertoni. There are approximately 80 wild species in North America and another 200 species are native to South America. However, only Stevia Rebaudiana (and another species, now extinct) possesses the natural sweetness we look for. Some of the other species, while still very sweet, have a taste reminiscent of a well-known artificial sweetener.
Cultivation:
Prefers a sandy soil, requiring a warm sunny position. It is a short day plant, growing up to 0.6 meters in the wild and flowering from January to March in the southern hemisphere. Flowering under short day conditions should occur 54-104 days following transplanting, depending on the daylength sensitivity of the cultivar. The natural climate is semi-humid subtropical with temperature extremes from 21 to 43 C, averaging 24 C. Stevia grows in areas with up to 1375mm of rain a year. Plants are not very frost resistant, but can be grown as half-hardy annuals in Britain, starting them off in a greenhouse and planting them out after the last expected frosts.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a warm greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Make sure the compost does not dry out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots and grow them on fast, planting them out after the last expected frosts. It could be worthwhile giving them some protection such as a cloche or cold frame for a few weeks after planting them out until they are growing away well.
Edible Uses:
Used primarily as a sweetener in teas and coffee and contains little, if any, calories. In maney countries, it is used commercially to sweeten sodas and other beverages for the calorie conscious public. Stevia does not break down when heated, so it can be used in baking or cooking without problems. However, it does not crystallize or caramelize like sugar; so meringues and flans are not in the Stevia cooking list. Stevia products currently on the market include: Stevia leaves – whole leaves. Stevia, Cut and Sifted – the leaves are cut into smaller pieces and sifted to ensure that twigs and extraneous matter are not included.

Leaves are eaten -raw or cooked. A very sweet liquorice-like flavour. The leaves contain ‘stevioside’, a substance that is 300 times sweeter than sucrose. Other reports say that they contain ‘estevin’ a substance that, weight for weight, is 150 times sweeter than sugar. The dried leaves can be ground and used as a sweetener or soaked in water and the liquid used in making preserves. The powdered leaves are also added to herb teas. The leaves are sometimes chewed by those wishing to reduce their sugar intake. The leaves can also be cooked and eaten as a vegetable.

Medicinal Uses:
Stevia has been used by the native South Americans to treat diabetes, because of its ability to lower the blood sugar level. They also use it to treat high blood pressure.  Paraguayan Matto Grosso Indian tribes use stevia as an oral contraceptive.  The women drink a daily decoction in water of powdered leaves and stems to achieve this purpose.  This activity of the plant remains a controversial issue.  The suggestion is that the antifertility effect is due to certain flavonoids and their monoglycosides, and not to stevioside.

The Guarani Tribe of Paraguay, the Mestizos and other natives refer to Stevia as Caa-he-e and they have used the herb to sweeten their bitter beverages (mate´ for example) since pre-Columbian times.

Known Hazards : May cause dizziness, headache, flatulence, nausea & muscle pain. Caution with diabetic patients. May increase blood pressure lowering effects of allopathic medicine.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia_rebaudiana

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Stevia+rebaudiana

http://www.n8ture.com/herbs-stevia.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm

 

 

 

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News on Health & Science

The ‘Other’ Sweetener That’s Made from Sugar, but is Closer to DDT

Researchers recently investigated sucralose (Splenda) to see if it could reduce hunger and keep blood sugar steady.  They found that it could not.

The researchers hoped to find that sucralose could cause the intestine to produce a hormone that reduces blood sugar and decreases appetite, which prior study had indicated might be a possibility. But the effect did not occur when it was ingested orally — hunger remained the same and the blood sugar remained the same.

According to FYI Living:

“Worse, other research has shown that artificial sweeteners might contribute to weight gain … [when the] sweet taste is not accompanied by the calories (energy) our brain expects it to be, the complex systems our bodies have to regulate energy balance may be thrown off kilter.  The result is that a diet high in artificial sweeteners may possibly, over time, cause people to seek out more calories from other sources”.

Resources:
*FYI Living March 10, 2011
*European Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 2011; 65(4):508-13

 

Posted By Dr. Mercola | April 26 2011

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Healthy Tips

Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid

 

1.Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet and Equal, is believed to be carcinogenic and accounts for more reports of adverse reactions than all other foods and food additives combined.

The artificial sweetener Acesulfame-K has been linked to kidney tumors. All artificial sweeteners are bad news.

2.High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increases your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels and contributes to the development of diabetes.

3.Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
MSG is used as a flavor enhancer. It is an excitotoxin, a substance that overexcites cells to the point of damage or death.

4.Trans Fat

Numerous studies show that trans fat increases LDL cholesterol levels and increases your risk of heart attacks, heart disease and strokes.

5.Common Food Dyes
Artificial colorings may contribute to behavioral problems in children and lead to a significant reduction in IQ.

6.Sodium Sulphite
This is a preservative used in processed foods. People who are sulfite sensitive can experience headaches, breathing problems, and rashes. In severe cases, sulfites can actually cause death.

7.Sodium Nitrate/Sodium Nitrite
This common preservative has been linked to various types of cancer.

8.BHA and BHT

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives that affect the neurological system of your brain, alter behavior and have the potential to cause cancer.

9.Sulphur Dioxide
Sulphur additives are toxic and in the U.S., they have been prohibited in raw fruit and vegetables. Adverse reactions include bronchial problems, low blood pressure, and anaphylactic shock.

10.Potassium Bromate

This additive is used to increase volume in some breads. It is known to cause cancer in animals, and even small amounts can create problems for humans.

SourceFood Matters November 24, 2010

Posted By Dr. Mercola | December 17 2010

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Featured

Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Fool Your Brain

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While artificial sweeteners may be able to confuse your taste buds, the suspicion is growing that your brain is not so easily fooled.

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Several studies suggest your brain has a way of detecting calories while food is still in your mouth. For example, researchers made eight cyclists perform 60-minute workouts on a stationary bike while measuring their work rate.

During workouts on separate days they were told to rinse their mouth with a solution of either glucose or saccharin, without swallowing either one. The glucose mouth rinse improved the cyclists’ performance by a small but consistent amount compared to saccharin.

Later, they were asked to rinse their mouths with either saccharin alone or saccharin plus a caloric (but non-sweet) sugar called maltodextrin. The cyclists did slightly better when they rinsed their mouths with maltodextrin, even though both solutions carried identical saccharin taste.

When scientists performed fMRI scans on the athletes, they found that the combination of saccharin and maltodextrin activated two reward-associated brain areas — the striatum and anterior cingulate — which saccharin alone failed to touch.

Source: New Scientist December 27, 2009

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News on Health & Science

9 Hidden Toxins Lurking in Your Food

Your grocery store is plentifully stocked with wolves in sheep’s clothing. Here are some tips to help you steer clear of hidden toxins that masquerade as safe products.

……..Grocery shopping

1. Stay away from processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and sausage. Sodium nitrate can also cause the formation of nitrosamines in your system, which can lead to cancer.

2. Reduce the amount of canned food you consume. Cans are commonly lined with bisphenol-A, an organic compound that may be associated with diabetes and heart disease.

3. Skip the diet soda and artificial sweeteners. Prolonged exposure to aspartame, a neurotoxic chemical additive in these products, can lead to nerve cell damage, dizziness, and headaches.

4. Opt for organic chicken. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy discovered traces of arsenic in non-organic chickens. Exposure to this dangerous chemical can lead to cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Another study also found numerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria in conventional poultry.

5. Avoid manufactured snacks.
Hydrogenated oils are used to lengthen the shelf life of products like crackers and cookies, but they are also associated with diabetes and heart disease. Snack foods are also generally loaded with salt, corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.

6. Stay away from artificially-colored foods like candy, maraschino cherries, and gelatin. Mice and rats exposed to blue 1 and 2, red 3 and yellow 6 suffered from brain, adrenal gland, thyroid, and kidney tumors.

7. Always buy organic produce. Lingering pesticides can lead to nervous and reproductive system damage, not to mention cancer.

8. Avoid Teflon cookware. The Teflon used to create nonstick surfaces can release noxious gases when exposed to high temperatures, which puts you at risk for a large variety of diseases, many of which are not even well documented at this time.

9. Never microwave food in plastic bowls, containers, or dishes.
Exposure to heat causes the bisphenol-A found in plastics to break down and potentially contaminate your food.

Sources: AlterNet August 11, 2009

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