Is it really possible? Does a plant-derived, all natural sweetener actually exist that is both good for you and easy to use as a sugar replacement in any recipe?

Still life with dried stevia leaves in a plastic bag, glass bottle with stevia powder and sieve for infusion.

As it turns out, one does! Stevia,  a zero calorie sugar substitute, fits this description. It’s a plant-derived sweetener without any calories that we at Engage Organics  are proud to be using in our blended seasoning mixes. Derived from the “candylead” plant, stevia comes from the Asteraceae family and is native to the American Southwest as well as Paraguay and Brazil.

Though stevia became commercially available in the 1970s, it has been used for centuries in regions around for world in place of sugar. These powerfully sweet leaves have been used to soften the bitterness of traditional teas without necessitating the use of expensive and tooth-decaying sugars. Traditional medicine has also been incorporating stevia for a wide variety of treatments: from treating burns, stomach problems and even high blood pressure.

Stevia has only grown in popularity in recent years, often finding its way into coffee and desserts both at home and in trendy restaurants. We’ve added stevia to our organic seasoning blends to add a touch of sweetness without any negative health effects. Many people use it as a low-carb substitute for sugar to satisfy cravings and to incorporate more antioxidants into their diet.

But does stevia live up to the hype? Let’s look at some of the benefits of this purported wonder plant and find out.

The Benefits of Stevia

People that have tried stevia swear by it and use it for everything from sweetening hot beverages to using is as a sugar substitute in baked goods. Because it has no calories, stevia is diet friendly and helps to curb an appetite for more caloric-heavy sweeteners. There are numerous benefits to stevia (even when eaten in trace amounts like in our all natural seasoning blends) that can make it a great choice for people trying to cut down on their sugar intake.

Positive Health Effects: Promising research has come out about stevia’s benefits for treating hypertension and lowering blood pressure. There is also evidence that stevia might be helpful for treating Type 2 diabetes, but more research is needed.

Rich in Antioxidants: The leaves of the stevia plant are rich in antioxidants that prevent DNA damage that often leads to cancer, new research has revealed. Even trace amounts of stevia in your food can have enough antioxidants to be an advantage to your body.

-Brings Out Natural Flavors without Added Calories: Stevia’s sweetness enhances the sweet and sour notes that are naturally present in foods. Our Lemon Pepper blend has more zest and Sweet Cinn’s warming spice tastes more flavorful with a little stevia mixed in. You will enjoy your food more without having to add any extra ingredients or calories, a win-win for everyone involved!

A Little Goes a Long Ways: The sweetness in Stevia comes from naturally occurring glycosides  that are extracted from the plant leaves when they are processed in hot water. Because this extracted substance is several hundred times sweeter than sugar, you will only need a little bit to get some sweetness in your recipes, which is why even small amounts in our spice blend can make a big difference in taste.

Addressing the Stevia Controversy
Recently, stevia has come under controversy for supposedly being unhealthy or laden with artificial chemicals. Though it is true that some commercially available stevia products do contain preservation agents to keep them fresh on grocery store shelves, this is not the kind of stevia that we use for our organic seasoning blends. Instead, our stevia is plant-based and one hundred percent natural. No preservatives, no artificial ingredients; just all natural sweetness.

The best way to use stevia is to think of it as any other plant that adds flavoring to food, no more, no less. Like cinnamon or turmeric, stevia is an all-natural additive that adds a taste of sweetness to foods without calories. The touch of stevia in our Sweet Cinn, ( It’s-a-Dilly and Lemon Pepper  spice mixes adds sweetness without any synthetic chemicals or preservatives.

Stevia has been safely consumed for hundreds of years, and well-sourced options today are just as healthy, plant-derived, and delicious as these ancient varieties. Adding a teaspoon or two of our sugar-free seasoning blends into your favorite recipe will enhance the flavors of your food and satisfy your sugar cravings, all without putting refined sugars into your body.

Really, what could be better than all natural, sugar-free sweetness from plants?