Sweet News for Diabetics!
TIRUPATI: Diabetics who loathe drinking sugarless coffee/tea or feel sick of adding alternative sweeteners have something to cheer about!
Days are not far behind when they can just pick a couple of leaves, add them to boiling tea and have a sip of a much sweeter beverage. With an estimated 80 million Indians expected to get into the diabetes bracket by 2025, which, on its flip side, has given birth to scores of `low sugar’ or `sugar-free’ alternative sweeteners, researchers have intensified their search for a biological equivalent that led to the discovery of Stevia.
Stevia rebaudiana, also called as sweet leaf or sugar leaf, is the magical leaf in question. Native to Paraguay, it is widely distributed in the US, Brazil, Japan and other South-East Asian countries. It is locally called `Madhu patri’ in Telugu, `Seeni tulasi’ in Tamil and `Madhu parani’ in Marathi. This leaf is not only calorie-free, but also non-toxic, heat-stable, non-fermentive, non-carcinogenic, non-addictive, flavour enhancing and above all, free of calcium cyclamate saccharin aspartame that leads to side-effects.
Sri Venkateswara University’s Biotechnology Department has taken up extensive research on the plant’s properties and its in-vitro culture. Efforts are on to make it `temperature-resistant’ to suit our climate. “Stevia contains a stevioside, a secondary metabolite responsible for the sweetness, which is 300 times sweeter than sucrose. We are trying to enhance this quality to make it as sweeter as possible,” C.V. Naidu, Associate Professor, working on the plant told The Hindu.
Much in store
Apart from domestic use, the plant has much in store for bakery, confectionary and beverage sectors, economically too. 50 gm of Stevia leaf powder can replace 1,000 gm of cane sugar. It can also be used in chocolates, candies, mouth fresheners, chewing gum, paan etc., as its anti-microbial property does not encourage tooth decay.
Stevia leaf tea is found to offer excellent relief for an upset stomach. Like cucumber, a wet stevia leaf bag provides a cooling effect to eyes. “Apart from all these, the leaf helps in weight and blood pressure management, acts as an anti-tumour agent and induces insulin secretion,” Dr. Naidu says.
http://www.thehindu.com/…/ sweet-news-for…/ article1853953.ece