The Stevia Herb Sweetener

stevia-coffee

I bought this stevia plant from Cavite State University. According to the gardener, it is sweet and can be used in coffee, tea, and even juices. In other words, it is a sugar substitute. Maybe a healthier sugar substitute because it is a herb. I tasted a few green leaves. The flavor is sweet, bitter and grassy. The same goes thru for dried leaves.


stevia-plant

I bought two potted plant for 200 pesos. It was a good deal considering the price of white sugar continue to rise. Imagine having a sugar plant in your garden. You don’t need to buy sugar for your daily needs. Plus, it is natural and healthy.

I allowed the plant to grow for three months before the actual testing. It is natural so I want to try it in its natural form. I got a mug of hot water, put a half teaspoon of coffee, put some fresh leaves  and allowed it to stand for few minutes. Then I tried the dried leaf version. The results were not good. The bitterness and grassiness of leaves just added up to my coffee. The taste and smell disgusted me.

stevia-coffee

Wikipedia said, rebaudioside A has the least bitterness of all the sweet compounds in the stevia plant. To produce rebaudioside A commercially, stevia plants are dried and subjected to a water extraction process. This crude extract contains about 50% rebaudioside A and is refined using ethanol, methanol, crystallization and separation technologies to separate the various glycoside molecules in the extract. This allows the manufacturer to isolate pure rebaudioside A.

In order to use stevia, it must undergo chemical extraction process. What is the difference between stevia and white sugar? Is it a better sugar alternative?

– — — — >
updates

I have an article regarding low-carb sugar for diabetics. Stevia was included, click in to see its health benefits.

Why Do We Hate Using Brown Sugar?

brown-sugar

We have been using this white sugar ever since I was a kid. We use sugar in coffee, ice tea, fruit juices and desserts. Most of the commercially available products use this kind of sugar.

Other sugar and sugar substitute are available, like brown sugar, muscovado, coconut sugar, kaong sugar, aspartame, honey and stevia. By the way, stevia is a sweet herb.

Why do we hate using brown sugar?

1. Using white sugar is a tradition. A custom that is pass through generations.

2. Brown sugar looks ugly. White sugar is more pleasant looking.

3. Imparts color to food. Imagine milk, fruit salad and guyabano juice sweetend with white sugar.All of this will have a brownish appearance.

4. Dirty or have impurities. From time to time I encounter small pieces of sugar cane stalk. I even find small stones and insects. Brown sugar is similar to crude oil, a mixture of many components. I remember drinking a palamig with a red ant. How disgusting!

5. Tastes sour. It makes my favorite cup of tea sour. Refining purifies it, removing any impurities, acidity and color.

Please share your opinions!

brown-sugar

How to Make Kaong Sugar, Sugar Palm

kaong-sap-boiling

Sugar palm or kaong is abundant along river banks of Philippine archipelago. It has sweet yummy sap coming from its cut male flower. It has sugar content ranging form 10 to 20 degrees Brix. This characteristic makes it possible to process it into sugar. Kaong sugar is healthier compared to regular sugar and other substitute. It has low glycemic index (GI) of 35. Having low GI value, it is safe for diabetics. Kaong sugar can be use for coffee, tea, baking and cooking.

Low-GI foods are slow to digest and absorb. This cause gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. It was shown to improve both glucose and lipid levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. They have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger. Low GI diets also reduce insulin levels and insulin resistance.

To produce kaong sugar:

1. Get freshly harvested kaong sap. The taste should be sweet, not alcoholic and not sour. Alcoholic and sour taste are results of fermentation. This occurrence will prevent you in achieving powdered kaong sugar. Color should be white, not yellow or gray. If refractometer is available, the sugar content should be between 10 to 20 degree Brix.

kaong-sap-boiling

2. Boil the sap to evaporate the water under moderate heat with occasional stirring until the sap thickens at 115 degree centigrade.

sticky-sap

3. Turn off the heat when it become very sticky or powdered sugar is achieved. Test can be done by scooping a small sample and cooling it immediately inside refrigerator.

granular-kaong-sugar

4. Continue stirring until the sugar become granular. Pass through slow speed grinder to attain fine and uniform powder. High speed grinder may produce heat enough to melt and caramelize your sugar.

kaong-sugar-in-jar

5. Air dry the sugar and pack. Label properly.

Depending on sugar content of harvested sugar palm sap, one kilo of sugar can be obtained from eleven liters of sap. Approximate cost of eleven liters sap is 90 pesos. However, you may spend a lot on fuel cost especially if you are using liquefied petroleum gas. Using alternative fuel such as rice hulls, corn ears and dried woods may save fuel consumption.

Aspartame Controversy

white-sugar

We all know the fact that too much sugar is bad . Especially for diabetics. Sugar increases insulin levels, which inhibits the release of growth hormones and depresses our immune system. It also has high calorie content. Excess calories is store in our body as fat.  Excess fat also brings danger.

Sugar is found in almost everything we eat.  From rice, bread, fruits, chocolates, ice cream, salads and more. Our undisciplined eating habits make us consume a lot of sugar.

Health consciousness lead to the discovery of Aspartame.  It is a low calorie sweetener substiute for sugar.  It is the methyl ester of the dipeptide of the natural amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine. Known brands are Nutrasweet and Equal. Almost all of sugar applications can be substituted with aspartame. Coke Zero uses aspartame as sweetener.

I hope aspartame is the safe substitute for sugar. But here are some side effects

Eye
blindness in one or both eyes
decreased vision and/or other eye problems such as: blurring, bright flashes, squiggly lines, tunnel vision, decreased night vision
pain in one or both eyes
decreased tears
trouble with contact lenses
bulging eyes

Ear
tinnitus – ringing or buzzing sound
severe intolerance of noise
marked hearing impairment

Neurologic
epileptic seizures
headaches, migraines and (some severe)
dizziness, unsteadiness, both
confusion, memory loss, both
severe drowsiness and sleepiness
paresthesia or numbness of the limbs
severe slurring of speech
severe hyperactivity and restless legs
atypical facial pain
severe tremors

Psychological/Psychiatric
severe depression
irritability
aggression
anxiety
personality changes
insomnia
phobias

Chest
palpitations, tachycardia
shortness of breath
recent high blood pressure

Gastrointestinal
nausea
diarrhea, sometimes with blood in stools
abdominal pain
pain when swallowing

Skin and Allergies
itching without a rash
lip and mouth reactions
hives
aggravated respiratory allergies such as asthma

Endocrine and Metabolic
loss of control of diabetes
menstrual changes
marked thinning or loss of hair
marked weight loss
gradual weight gain
aggravated low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
severe PMS

Other
frequency of voiding and burning during urination
excessive thirst, fluid retention, leg swelling, and bloating
increased susceptibility to infection

Additional Symptoms of Aspartame Toxicity include the most critical symptoms of all
death
irreversible brain damage
birth defects, including mental retardation
peptic ulcers
aspartame addiction and increased craving for sweets
hyperactivity in children
severe depression
aggressive behavior
suicidal tendencies

Aspartame may trigger, mimic, or cause the following illnesses:
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Epstein-Barr
Post-Polio Syndrome
Lyme Disease
Grave’s Disease
Meniere’s Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease
ALS
Epilepsy
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
EMS
Hypothyroidism
Mercury sensitivity from Amalgam fillings
Fibromyalgia
Lupus
non-Hodgkins
Lymphoma
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

——

Wait ! Do not jump into conclusions yet. There are contradicting claims!

Aspartame Tastes Like Sugar

Studies conducted with taste-test panels show that many believe aspartame’s taste is very similar to the taste of sugar.

Aspartame Enhances and Extends Flavors

Aspartame has the ability to intensify and extend fruit flavors, such as cherry and orange, in foods and beverages. For example, aspartame makes chewing gum taste sweet up to four times longer than sugar-sweetened gum.

Aspartame Does Not Promote Tooth Decay

The American Dental Association has noted it “welcomes the development and FDA approval of new artificial sweeteners that are shown to be safe and non-contributory to tooth decay. . . . Aspartame is an FDA-approved, safe sweetening agent and flavor enhancer that can be substituted for sugar in the diet.”

Aspartame is Helpful for Individuals with Diabetes

Aspartame offers people with diabetes greater variety and flexibility in budgeting their total carbohydrate intake and allows them to satisfy their taste for sweets without affecting blood sugar, which helps them to comply with a healthful meal plan. In addition, consuming products with aspartame can result in fewer calories, which helps people with diabetes manage their weight.

Scientific Studies Show Aspartame is Beneficial in Weight Control

With nearly two out of three Americans classified as overweight or obese, taking steps to assure appropriate calorie intake is important for many people. Because products with aspartame are lower in calories than their sugar-sweetened counterparts, using products with aspartame together with regular physical activity can help with weight management.

Aspartame Can Be Part of a Healthful Diet

Aspartame can reduce or replace the sugar and calories in foods and beverages while maintaining great taste. Thus, aspartame offers one simple step to help people move closer to achieving a more healthful diet.

——

Are you confused ? There are many information on the net about aspartame. More googling makes me more confused. Can someone tell me the truth?

white-sugar

Health Benefits of Muscovado Sugar (Mascabado)

muscovado-sugar

This sugar  cost 140 pesos per kilo.  Why does this sugar cost much?

The name muscovado is derived from the Spanish word “mascabado” which means  unrefined. It is natural cane sugar and can be compared to pure honey in terms of health benefits. Although it is not better than honey.  Sugar cane juice is heated  until it forms unrefined sugar . The procedure is similar to production of coconut sugar.  It does not undergo extensive processing which may add some harmful substances  and remove the essential minerals.  Unlike honey this sugar cannot contain any vitamins, heating process might have degraded it all.

Reports say that muscovado is high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, among other useful compounds. Wow! I better use this sugar.  I never say to use it like there’s no tomorrow.  Over use  gonna stock up calories in your belly.

muscovado-sugar

Mineral content of Muscovado Sugar (per 100g):

* Total mineral salts 740 mg max.
* Phosphorus (P) 3.9 mg max.
* Calcium (Ca) 85 mg max.
* Magnesium (Mg) 23 mg max.
* Potassium (K) 100 mg max.
* Iron (Fe) 1.3 mg max

Are you willing to spend extra cash for this exotic sugar?

How to Make Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a natural sugar made from coconut sap.It is healthier compared to other sugar substitute. It has low glycemic index (GI) of 35. Having low GI value, it is safe for diabetics. Coconut sugar can be use for coffee, tea, baking and cooking.

sugarpalm

1. Get freshly harvested coconut sap. The taste should be sweet, not alcoholic and not sour.
2. Boil the coconut sap to evaporate the water over moderate heat with occasional stirring until the sap thickens at 115ºC. Buy a good candy thermometer and avoid the hassle of taking chances – the tantyahan method.
3. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until the sugar become granular.
4. Pulverize large chunks and pack.

Kaong or sugar palm is a close relative of coconut, you may want to produce healthy sugar from it.