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‘Stevia rebaudiana’ is a plant that belongs to the chrysanthemum family. Stevia is a sugar substitute that is made from this plant. The glycosides found in the plant are what make stevia sweet. There is a significant difference between the stevia we buy at the grocery store and the stevia we may grow in our homes. The products found at grocery stores, such as Truvia and Stevia in the Raw, do not contain the whole Stevia leaf. Instead, they are made by blending other fillers with stevia. They are made from a Stevia leaf extract called ‘Rebaudioside A (Reb-A).’ This extract is around 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Sweeteners made using Reb A are known as ‘novel sweeteners’ as they are mixed with different products such as erythritol (sugar alcohol) and dextrose (glucose). Truvia is a blend of Reb-A and erythritol, whereas Stevia in the raw form is a blend of Reb-A and dextrose or maltodextrin. All stevia products will contain some additive or filler.
One such additive is maltodextrin. A carbohydrate-based filler comes from the starch of rice, potatoes, corn, or Tapioca. It gives a sweet taste and gives the right consistency to the product. It helps bulk up baked goods and is used in beverages for sweetening purposes, without the threat of clumping as it acts as an anticaking agent as well. Maltodextrin is not calorie-free; however, carbohydrates are in such small amounts per serving that they are considered zero-carb products. Stevia is blended with maltodextrin to enhance the product’s usage to add to hot and cold items and improve its shelf life. Adding maltodextrin does not increase the calorie level of the sweetener; it’s just another agent used to enhance the flavor and use of the stevia extract. Maltodextrin does not change the taste of the sweetener. Instead, it is used to dilute the potent stevia leaf extract to make it measurable for consumers for sweetening equivalency as a sugar replacement.
Stevia blends have been developed to help replace sugar more easily in recipes. As it does not have any flavor, you can substitute either one tsp. or 1 cup of sugar directly with either one tsp. or 1 cup of stevia blend by adding maltodextrin to stevia powder. There are many blends with stevia, such as maltodextrin, glycerin, inulin, etc. When buying stevia products, one should check for the best mix. Maltodextrin is a smart choice as it is so low on carbohydrates, doesn’t let stevia stick, acts as a perfect bulking agent, and doesn’t affect the taste and function of the product.