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Stevia Trivia for Diabetic Dairy Dessert Products

Stevia (rebaudiana) is a subtropical herbaceous perennial shrub, of the family Asteraceae, native of Paraguay. There are more than 200 species of of this plant that grow in South America. First discovered in 1887 by Antonio Bertoni, a South American natural scientist, the leaves of this plant can be used in tea or coffee preparations and contains zero calories because the human body cannot metabolize these and it pass out through the body as such. These leaves are sweet due to two glycosides — stevioside and rebaudioside. Stevioside is sweet in taste but also has a bitter aftertaste which many people complain about when using this sweetener, while rebaudioside is better tasting, sweet and less bitter.

Most “raw” and less processed stevia products contain both sweeteners whereas, most highly processed forms of it, like Truvia, only contain the rebaudioside; the sweetest part of the leaf. Stevia may be broadly classified into three main categories.

1. Green Leaf Stevia. This is the least processed of all types; the leaves have been dried and ground into powder form. This is the type of stevia that has been used in Japan and South America for centuries as a natural sweetener and health remedy. It is sweet, slightly bitter, isn’t quite as potent as most stevia products and is about 30-40 times sweeter than sugar.

2. Stevia Extracts. Some brands of this sweetener today, extract the sweeter and less bitter part of the stevia leaf (rebaudioside) which does not have the health benefits found in stevioside. This type may be a better option than other regular sweeteners, but there are not many studies available yet, showing its effects. This product is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.

3. Altered Stevia and Truvia. This is the product that we should stay away from and in reality, is not stevia at all. The problem with these products is the processing and added ingredients. According to the United States patent for the Coca-Cola Company, Truvia goes through a 42 step process to make this sweetener. First, the rebaudioside is extracted from the leaves then chemical solvents are added including acetonitrile which is toxic to the liver and is carcinogenic. They are then added in GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) corn derivative in erythritol. Truvia or rebaudioside stevia products are about 400 times sweeter than sugar.

Popularity Increase for Stevia in Dairy

Market insights monitoring over the last few years has shown that the number of new product launches with stevia in the US has grown from 15 dairy products in 2011 to 62 dairy product launches in 2013. Across all categories, Stevia launches have grown from 411 in 2011 to 933 in 2013.

It is surprising that the rise of this sweetener has been so swift, as it has proven to be an increasingly popular choice with the drive toward natural sweeteners among both dairy and non-dairy manufacturers alike. Within four years, a plant used traditionally by Paraguay’s Guarani Indians, can now be found in sugar-reduced products by food giants such as Coca-Cola, Dannon, Arla and Valio. Although up to 300 times sweeter than traditional beet or cane sugar and named as the “miracle sweetener,” it does require careful management due to its slightly bitter, liquorice-like aftertaste.

By combining stevia with functional ingredients that offer nutritional benefits while acting as carrier, dairy producers have a wide range of new recipe options available. Solutions with the prebiotic fiberoligofructose offers a balanced sweetness profile and round flavour, while bringing the other nutritional benefits of the ingredient to the end product.

Oligofructose is a prebiotic fibre with a sweetness profile that does not have any off-taste or lingering effect. This is why it is used to enhance the fibre content of products, as well as helping to reduce their sugar content (1.5 kCal/g). It is naturally derived from chicory root and helps to mask the undesirable off-taste that high intense sweeteners such as stevia may have. As well as enhancing fruit flavours, this highly soluble fibre encourages a smooth formulation and as one of the most researched prebiotics worldwide, promotes a beneficial effect on gut flora. In addition, it can generally be processed on all standard production lines without any major adaption required. Moreover, stevia is freely soluble in water and alcohol. It can be heated to 195°C with no adverse reactions. It is not destroyed by heat, so can be used in cooking & baking.

On the frozen side, Stevia ice creams are available in four common flavours: Chocolate, Mocha, Strawberry and Vanilla. The stevia-sweetened ice cream contains 30% to 40% fewer calories than regular ice cream. Also available are four ounce (113.40g) vanilla and chocolate flavoured ice cream bars, fortified with protein. These milk-based bars are ideal for snacks, dessert and after a workout or strenuous exertion. Milk is the one ingredient, providing 25% of the daily calcium values.

Diabetic Desserts Conclusions

Most delicatessen desserts are prepared using stevia and preliminary studies show that the products prepared are dazzling white and texture of the product is comparatively softer than the normal. Similarly, it is reported that the good quality of diabetic desserts is possible to prepare with stevia.

Stevia-based ingredients are considered natural, high-intensity sweeteners. They are based on extracts from leaves of the rebaudina plant, which coniain intensely sweet steviol glycosides. These compounds are non-cariogenic, contain no calories and have a zero glycemic index, making them safe and suitable for diabetics. Most stevia-based sweeteners are 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar and allow for a sugar reduction of 50% or more in dairy applications such as milk-based beverages, ice cream and yogurt. Therefore,the opportunities to use stevia to sweeten dairy foods are infinite.

E379 – Stevia Trivia for Diabetic Dairy Dessert Products –

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