I’ve been trying different brands of stevia to see which one I like best. Some are somewhat bitter and some clump in the cup– what’s that all about?? This morning my husband asked why the one we’re now using is not dissolving instantly and completely like the others did, and where does it come from, anyway? I went on-line to check and this is what I found…..
Stevia is an herb whose dried leaves are used as a natural sweetener and sugar substitute. It grows best in warm climates around the world and is native to areas with such weather. According to the University of Idaho Extension, stevia is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture zone 9, which is primarily in the southern portion of our country. It also grows well in containers, making it a versatile planting choice in various climatic locations. I discovered you can even get seeds for it if you’d like to grow your own.
Then we checked the labels and discovered this one has added inulin. Husbands next question- WHAT is inulin and where does THAT come from? Back to the computer for more research.
Inulin is a dietary fiber that is soluble. In nutritional terminology, inulin is most broadly categorized as a dietary (or edible) fiber because it passes through the digestive tract largely undigested. Ironically, inulin, like many of the so-called dietary fibers, does not contain any actual fibers.
Dietary fiber falls into two broad categories: soluble and insoluble. Neither are absorbed by the digestive tract, but soluble fiber dissolves in water, whereas insoluble fiber does not. Another feature of soluble fibers is that, although they are not broken down by the human digestive tract, they are partially digested by bacteria which inhabit the colon. Inulin is a soluble fiber.
Where Does it Come From? Inulin is found in abundance in many non-starchy root vegetables and rhizomes such as burdock roots, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and garlic. Most of the inulin fiber that is used as a food additive comes from chicory roots (which look similar to small beet roots) because of their consistently high inulin content.
Dietary Uses of Inulin Fiber: Inulin fiber has come to be increasingly used as a food additive because it is sweet-tasting, yet very low in calories, creamy in texture, yet completely fat-free, and can even help with the absorption of certain minerals.
OK- stevia and inulin are natural and good for us. However, so far I don’t want them mixed together because the inulin has made the stevia in the SweetLeaf product, clump in my coffee. This company also offers stevia as a liquid with flavors, of which I bought several to try. I just checked the bottle and it doesn’t list inulin as an ingredient, but it’s too early for me to say if I like it or not, since I’ve only opened the chocolate one. So far I do like that one, and will try the others in due time.
Up to this point, I like NuStevia from NuNaturals best, then Truvia. I know some companies use the whole plant, making their product bitter, while others use only the inner leaves that are not bitter, and others use mostly inner leaves, but some outer. My taste test and search continues….