So Many Stevia Sweeteners! How do I choose which Stevia to buy?
Clear Liquid Stevia Extract
When stevia users complained about the bitter, licorice taste of the whole leaf syrup extracts, the suppliers started making liquid extracts or liquid solutions with stevioside. Dissolving the pure stevioside into water creates a product that is sweet, concentrated, attractive and pleasant tasting. This is also extremely profitable to manufacture. You can make your own clear liquid extract for a fraction of the cost (see recipe below).
The quality of clear liquid stevia extract depends on two factors:
1) The quality of the stevioside used to make the extract.
2) The type of preservative used, such as alcohol, chrysanthemum flower, or grapefruit seed extract. Check labels to ensure it doesn’t contain a preservative you might not want.
Stevia Blends (commonly called ‘Spoonable Stevia’) Simply the best! My children love to eat Spoonable Stevia right from the jar! Stevia blends combine pure stevioside extract with a filler to make an easy-to-measure great tasting powder. These blends are by far the most versatile and easy-to-use form of stevia available.
Using fillers to tone down sweetness isn’t a new idea. When consumers first used Saccharin, they complained that it was far too sweet, so the manufacturers blended saccharin with a non-nutritive filler such as maltodextrin to make their sweetener easier for users to measure. Some stevia companies have followed this example, taking a product 300 times sweeter than sugar and creating one only four times sweeter
than sugar (a 4:1 stevia blend to sugar ratio). Although not a formal industry standard, it is the most popular ratio. Stevia blends are so easy to use. Spoon them over cereal, fruit, or add to beverages. Stevia blends will mainstream stevia as a sweetener for the future because of its wonderful flavor and ease of use.
Types of Fillers used in Stevia Blends or ‘Spoonable Stevia’ The following fillers add ease-of-use with minimal caloric impact. Currently, the most common fillers used for stevia blends are maltodextrin and EO.S.
Dextrose is a common processing agent derived from corn sugar. It keeps other components from clumping. Lactose is derived from milk; it has a slightly sweet taste and dissolves instantly, even in ice water. People with milk intolerance might want to avoid products with lactose as a filler. Maltodextrin is a non-sweet complex carbohydrate that is virtually tasteless. Maltodextrin can be derived from corn, rice, tapioca, or other starches.
F.O.S. is the common term for the Fructo-oligosaccharides. F.O.S. are sugars found in a variety of common foods, like bananas, garlic, and wheat. Although mildly sweet tasting, F.O.S. has a very low glycemic index. F.O.S. also promote the growth of some beneficial internal bacteria such as Acidophilus, Bifidus and Faecium. F.O.S. are not toxic. However, some people do not tolerate F.O.S. well. These people may experience gas, bloating, or nausea from the use of F.O.S.
Erythritol – Although relatively new in the USA, erythritol has been the stevia filler of choice in Japan for years. This white granulated powder is derived from natural grains and fruits. It has Virtually no calories and a very low glycemic index. Erythritol has the appearance and texture of white table sugar. Best of all, when combined with a high quality stevioside the resulting stevia blend dissolves quickly and tastes almost like sugar. In addition to its great taste,
erythritol is easily digested, promotes healthy teeth, and is safe for diabetics. (Erythritol is also used commercially to add texture to sugar-free foods.)
Stevia packets normally contain the same ingredients as stevia blends, except in convenient, premeasured servings. Although convenient when on the go, they are generally more expensive than stevia blends in bulk form.
Stevia Quick Dissolving Tablets
These tablets are rather new on the market. They normally contain stevioside along with other ingredients, and are mainly used to sweeten beverages. Some, however, may only dissolve in hot liquids.
Quick Tips for Purchasing High Quality Stevioside Products:
For best quality, when purchasing a product with pure steviosides,
- A high percentage of steviosides, at least 90%
- A high percentage of rebaudiosldes, at least 20%
- Unbleached, naturally water processed stevioside
- Organic for added peace of mind
- Buying from a reputable company
How to read labels
When you purchase a jar of ‘pure stevioside extract’ the ingredients will usually read something as follows:
(Brand A) INGREDIENTS: 85% steviosides – stevia rebaudiana bertoni (sweet leaf) or
(Brand B) INGREDIENTS: Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni (96% concentrated steviosides; 30% rebaudiosides or
(Brand C) INGREDIENTS: 100% Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni Extract
By law all stevioside supplements must list stevia by its full scientific name, stevia rebaudiana bertoni. Asides from that, the labels can vary greatly.
Brand A gives its stevioside percentage, then its scientific name followed by a common name of the stevia herb (sweet leaf).
Brand B states the scientific name, then the amount of steviosides and the percentage of rebaudiosides.
Brand C’s claim of being 100% stevia is true, but NOT for steviosides. Brands A and B are also 100% stevia.
Brand C did not even list its stevioside concentration. Often, if a brand does not list the percentage of steviosides, then you can bet it is low. Labels can be difficult to read. If you have any questions, call the manufacturer.