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Powdered stevia can either come in its extracted or whole form, and can be used in various recipes that call for sugar as a sweetening agent. Stevia is calorie-free and doesn't raise blood sugar the way regular sugar does, so it is safe for diabetics to use in beverages or baked goods. Many times, stevia extract is used to sweeten recipes, as only a small amount of it is required to equal the sweetness of sugar. Whole powdered stevia leaf is weaker in sweetness, but can still be used in most recipes in a larger amount to equal the amount of sugar called for.
In the health food industry, white powdered stevia is often sold in its extracted form so an individual can use only a small amount to sweeten beverages and foods. Steviosides are the sweet compounds in the stevia leaf, so extracting those compounds and creating a powder is ideal for those wanting a sweeter version of stevia. This powdered stevia extract is around 200 times sweeter than sugar, and only 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of powdered stevia extract can equal the sweetness of 1 cup (225 ml) of sugar. Many health-conscious individuals replace only half of the sugar called for in a recipe for stevia extract while combining it with another natural sweetener, as stevia extract can leave a baked product or beverage tasting quite bitter if used alone.
The whole stevia leaf can be dried and powdered to make a more natural, whole form of powdered stevia. This form of stevia can also be used in recipes to add sweetness, however, a much larger amount must be used to equal the amount of sugar called for. Usually around 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of whole powdered stevia should be used to equal one cup (225 ml) of sugar, but this can greatly depend on an individual's taste preferences. Whole powdered stevia is best used in beverages like tea, where the sweetness can infuse the water, creating a sweet tea.
Many times, food manufactures use stevia extract in processed foods, because it creates a much sweeter taste for less cost. Due to the fact that stevia extract is much sweeter than sugar to the point of becoming bitter, a sugar alcohol is often added to help balance the taste. Health-conscious consumers see stevia as a natural approach to artificial sweeteners, which go through a chemical process to be produced. Balancing the taste of stevia with more natural sugars like honey, or sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol, is also used by health-conscious individuals in homemade recipes.