Stevia 'natural' sugar substitute

Will low-kilojoule sweetener stevia revolutionise the way we flavour our food?
 
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01 .What is stevia?

natural-sweetners-lead

Stevia is a plant-based "natural" zero-kilojoule sweetener that offers an alternative to artificial sweeteners.

Here, we take a look at this new product and investigate:

Sugar substitute

Variously called Satan’s crystals, sweet poison, evil and toxic, sugar seems to have eclipsed traditional dietary enemies, fat and carbs, as the substance to blame for global obesity. This, combined with the rising rate of diabetes, is driving consumer demand for sugar-free and reduced-sugar products. 

Artificial or “intense sweeteners” such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin have been around for decades, but despite the fact there’s no evidence to suggest they’re harmful, consumer distrust of synthetic substances and fear of their various possible side-effects have led to an appetite for “natural” sweeteners.

Stevia, a “natural” sugar substitute that’s started appearing on supermarket shelves, is generating a big buzz in food manufacturing. The leaves of this South American shrub have traditionally been used as a food sweetener and added to tea. About 300 times sweeter than sucrose (white sugar), it is a non-nutritive sweetener (NNS), which means it has almost no kilojoules and, because of its low carb content, has a negligible effect on blood sugar levels.

Widely used in Japan for more than 30 years, stevia had a controversial start in the US, where it was originally approved only as a dietary supplement due to uncertainty around its safety. Finally approved as food additive in the US and Australia in 2008, it received European Commission approval in 2011.

sugar-consumption-statistic

Appetite for natural sweeteners

The food industry’s interest in stevia has also been driven by a 30-year high in sugar prices (partially due to rising demand from China and India) and the increasing cost of high-fructose corn syrup. Stevia’s super sweetness may also offer cost savings as manufacturers use very small amounts compared with sugar.

The demonisation of cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is also motivating manufacturers to capitalise on consumer desire for “natural” products. As one commentator on a European food and beverage industry website pointed out, “one of the reasons stevia has taken off is that sugar is seen as the most unhealthy macronutrient – which is particularly advantageous to categories such as ready-to-drink tea and juice.”

stevia-market-statistic

In Australia, the stevia market accounts for about 30% of the low-kilojoule sweetener market, mainly in tablet, powdered, granulated and liquid form. But based on overseas trends, we can expect to see a proliferation of stevia-sweetened dairy and chocolate products, ice-creams, jams, chewing gums and drinks here in the near future.

The main advantage of stevia over sugar is its tiny kilojoule load. Compared with sugar’s 80kJ per teaspoon (5g), stevia-based sweetener Natvia is 4kJ, so adding it to your cuppa or home cooking can help shave kilojoules off your daily intake. It’s also more tooth-friendly than sugar, and its negligible effects on blood sugar levels make it a good choice for diabetics who want a sweet treat.

 
 

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Rasputin's opinion:

  • Member since: 31 May 13
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2 MONTHS AGO | Hi, I'm looking to buy circulon non-stick but am confused by the different ranges ie commercial, infinite, elite. What is the difference?

 

 
 

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Viv's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | I'd recommend the very flat Scanpan Classic products for gas hobs with bulky trivets. Frying pans with more rounded bases and heavier handles are more prone to topple.

I'd recommend against Circulon and buy the near-equivalent Analon products instead for higher temperature cooking. The Circulon grooves seem to make cleaning of decomposed canola and vegetable oil residues quite a bit harder. Hence they seem to clag up and lose their non-stick performance significantly more quickly than smooth Analon and Scanpan products. That said, you should be using a stainless steel or cast iron pan to fry a steak at high heat and not a non-stick pan.

 

 
 

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Terrie Baglieri's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | I've had several expensive nonstick pans that have lost their nonstick properties within a few months, I think from overheating, so I'm wondering if anyone can tell me if it's better to buy 10 cheap supermarket pans and use them for as long as they last, rather than buying another $200 pan.

 

 
 

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Lynne's opinion:

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4 MONTHS AGO |
Searching for the elusive non-stick pan that lasts! I have seen a store demonstration of Woll pots and frypans that supposedly let you fry on high heat.

Has anyone any experience or thoughts on these German pans? Have been so disappointed with my Circulon, Analon and scan pans. Their non-stick qualities don't last and I am very careful in their use.

 

 
 

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sue's opinion:

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5 MONTHS AGO | My two circular pans lost their non stick after two years. Still okay for cooking meat and the like but no good for eggs. What should I buy next?

 

 
 

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Hamish's opinion:

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8 MONTHS AGO | Just wanting to find out where I can buy Swiss Diamond for induction cooktops?

 

 
 

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RB61's opinion:

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8 MONTHS AGO | Please note that Swiss Diamond has a separate induction range. Their standard range are not suitable for induction.

 

 
 

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Rasputin's opinion:

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2 MONTHS AGO | Hi, I'm looking to buy circulon non-stick but am confused by the different ranges ie commercial, infinite, elite. What is the difference?

 

 
 

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Viv's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | I'd recommend the very flat Scanpan Classic products for gas hobs with bulky trivets. Frying pans with more rounded bases and heavier handles are more prone to topple.

I'd recommend against Circulon and buy the near-equivalent Analon products instead for higher temperature cooking. The Circulon grooves seem to make cleaning of decomposed canola and vegetable oil residues quite a bit harder. Hence they seem to clag up and lose their non-stick performance significantly more quickly than smooth Analon and Scanpan products. That said, you should be using a stainless steel or cast iron pan to fry a steak at high heat and not a non-stick pan.

 

 
 

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Terrie Baglieri's opinion:

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3 MONTHS AGO | I've had several expensive nonstick pans that have lost their nonstick properties within a few months, I think from overheating, so I'm wondering if anyone can tell me if it's better to buy 10 cheap supermarket pans and use them for as long as they last, rather than buying another $200 pan.

 

 
 

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Lynne's opinion:

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4 MONTHS AGO |
Searching for the elusive non-stick pan that lasts! I have seen a store demonstration of Woll pots and frypans that supposedly let you fry on high heat.

Has anyone any experience or thoughts on these German pans? Have been so disappointed with my Circulon, Analon and scan pans. Their non-stick qualities don't last and I am very careful in their use.

 

 
 

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sue's opinion:

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5 MONTHS AGO | My two circular pans lost their non stick after two years. Still okay for cooking meat and the like but no good for eggs. What should I buy next?

 

 
 

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Hamish's opinion:

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8 MONTHS AGO | Just wanting to find out where I can buy Swiss Diamond for induction cooktops?

 

 
 

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RB61's opinion:

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8 MONTHS AGO | Please note that Swiss Diamond has a separate induction range. Their standard range are not suitable for induction.

 

 
 

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