The Use of Stevia in Sugar-Free Mocktails
Americans have always had a love-hate relationship with sugar. According to the IFIC’s 2022 Food and Health Survey, 45%1 of consumers listed “eating less sugar” as their top goal for the year. The sugar-free craze and the sober-curious movement are sister trends in the global shift towards healthier eating – inciting a new interest in sugarless mocktails. With so many questionable artificial sweeteners on the market, could stevia be the answer to sweetening America’s drinks?
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a plant native to Paraguay and Brazil, where people have used its leaves to sweeten tea and other drinks for centuries. There are over 150 species of stevia now grown across North and South America, China, and Japan. The leaves of this bushy shrub contain eight different glycosides (sugar-containing molecules) that manufacturers can extract to make stevia sweeteners.
What is Stevia Extract, and How is it Made?
Stevia Extract contains rebaudioside-A (Reb-A), a glycoside that tastes 200 times sweeter than table sugar. The FDA2 recognizes Reb-A and other extracted stevia glucosides as generally safe for consumption at 95% purity or higher. The non-nutritive sweetener often comes in powder or liquid form.
Manufacturers add water to crushed, dried stevia leaves to produce crude stevia – a dark solution that requires purification and filtration to remove impurities. After filtration, manufacturers extract the steviol glycosides with ethanol, decolorize them, dry the mixture, and package it as pure powdered stevia extract.
The Health Benefits of Using Stevia Instead of Sugar
- Weight loss management
Stevia contains zero calories and does not contribute to your daily carbohydrate intake, unlike table sugar. Evidence suggests that excess dietary sugar leads to weight gain3, which may contribute to obesity and the development of various cardiovascular diseases. Switching to stevia removes added sugars from your diet and may help with weight loss.
- Blood sugar control
Unlike table sugar, stevia does not impact your blood glucose levels or insulin response and is a suitable sweetener for Diabetics. Eating a high-sugar meal causes a spike in glucose which eventually crashes and often leads to feelings of sleepiness or impaired concentration. Using stevia instead of sugar can help you maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.
Some studies4 suggest that stevia may help dilate blood vessels and reduce high blood pressure, while others5 claim it can lower cholesterol levels. Researchers are actively investigating stevia’s cardiotonic activities to confirm its role in hypertension management.
Stevia extract is a natural, plant-based sweetener that contains various antioxidants that can help your body fight free radicals that cause disease. Refined sugar typically shows minimal antioxidant activity6, and replacing it with stevia sweeteners could increase your daily antioxidant intake.
Tips for Using Stevia Extract in a Mocktail
Stevia is incredibly sweet, and most mixologists use half the quantity a mocktail recipe suggests when using it as a substitute for sugar. You can mix stevia extract with water to create a ‘sugary’ simple syrup often used to sweeten virgin mojitos, whiskey sours, and Long Island iced teas.
Stevia extract is a powerful natural sweetener, perfect for making health-conscious, alcohol-free drinks. Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of stevia and other natural extracts for the food and beverage industry. Please contact us to learn more about our premium food flavoring and fragrance range.