Stevia is a plant with a surprise
At first glance, stevia is an unremarkable grassy shrub height not exceeding one meter. However, among those who know the secret of this South American plant, this variety is very popular. The secret lies in the fact that the extract from the stevia leaf that exceeds the sweetness of sugar in two hundred times! The level of glucose in the blood does not jump up at all doses.
History of discovery
Colonizing South America, the Spaniards did not care nor to Indian culture, even more so, before they lived without the sweet.
Only at the beginning of the last century, the Director of the Paraguayan College Moises Santiago Bertoni interested in local stories about the unusually sweet taste of the local plant. Then he got hold of a tuft of grass and began work on its study. Do it quickly failed – only 12 years later, Bertoni was finally able to put an end to the study of the species of grass.
The scientific name for stevia is Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni – includes not only the name of the scientist and his friend, the chemist, Rebaudi (Rebaudí), who worked with him on the creation of the extract and at first helped to study the plant.
Growing area and growing
The homeland of stevia can be described as the border between Paraguay and Brazil, where she grew up spontaneously and has been used by the Guarani Indians for centuries, long before the invasion of the conquistadors. «Kaa Hee», which translates as «sweet grass» – so the name sounds stevia at home, where from time immemorial, it was used to sweeten the local tea, mate. So, we can say that stevia is the oldest natural sweetener known today.
Now, in addition to South America, large amounts of stevia is grown in Asia, where the first in the list of producers and consumers, is China. Japan accounts for 40% of the total market of stevia, where the leaves of the plant and its extracts are used in many food and non-alcoholic beverages.
In addition, cultivated «sweet grass» in Israel, southern Russia and Ukraine.
In Europe, however, is virtually unknown plant, which represent and distribute only some of the Association.
The therapeutic effects of stevia
The growing popularity of the plant lies not only in the fact that it is widely used as sweetener for diabetics, and in the fact that it helps the other categories of sick people.
Dry stevia leaves can:
- to stabilize the level of glucose in the blood;
- to regulate the digestive system as a whole;
- to reduce the high blood pressure;
- to reduce weight in obesity;
- to calm nerves and relieve stress.
Moreover, the dried herb is an excellent diuretic.
And these are not empty words. Due to the high content of minerals such as potassium and magnesium, stevia «…highly recommended for hypertension, for it lowers blood pressure,» explains Professor of medical University in Taiwan. Carried out researches also have proved that stevia can regulate heartbeat due to its vasodilator ability.
Another University in Denmark, research has confirmed the ability of stevia stimulate insulin production naturally in the type 2 diabetes. Currently performed studies on the effect of stevia in diabetes type 1, insulin dependent.
This sweetener, 6 times more than green tea, with antioxidant action. That is, it can prevent problems caused by blood circulation – stroke, heart attack, liver disorders etc. besides, due to so many antioxidants, it is one of the best means against aging.
But that’s not all! Stevia, with bactericidal action, used in toothpastes and chewing gums, helping to not only prevent cavities, and remove plaque.
It is capable of:
- to neutralize the harmful effects of nicotine and dioxin;
- to strengthen the immune system;
- increase resistance to colds;
- to provide a healing effect when open wounds and burns.
Despite such a wide range of «Goodies», no contraindications, no side effects in the use of stevia is not found (although attempts have been made repeatedly).
Growing «sweet grass» of the house
For those who want to give up sugar and drink tea with the leaves of this remarkable plant, it may be advisable to grow stevia at home, on the windowsill.
Stevia seeds resemble dandelion seeds, same light and fluffy, only to go they will be in times less. So you need to prepare that of all the landings, to go (in 1-2 weeks) can only half, or even less.
When the seedlings grow up to 10-12 cm, the top of it should be cut at 3-4 cm, so the plant will be better branched. Transplanted into pots stevia after 1.5-2 months, and then to take care of it by adhering to a few rules:
- the soil should not be salty;
- plants need sunlight;
- pour stevia should moderate, with no excess water.