Guarani Indians and other American tribes have used stevia leaves since ancient times to sweeten their teas and hot beverages. Although calories and carbohydrates were probably not a concern for these indigenous people, stevia is a good sweetener option to allow you to enjoy a bit of sweetness while keeping your body weight and blood sugar levels under control. Stevia can be bought under different forms and it is important that you keep an eye on the ingredient lists to avoid the blends that contain added carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate is found in most natural sweeteners, from honey, molasses and cane sugar to maple syrup, white sugar, brown sugar and fructose. All of these sweeteners contain approximately 4 to 5 g of carbohydrates, or sugar, per teaspoon and these carbohydrates contribute to raising your blood sugar levels after eating. The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar levels will spike, which can be especially problematic if you are trying to manage your diabetes or keep your weight under control.
Leaf and Extract
Naturally, stevia comes from the leaves of a plant and does not contain any carbohydrates nor sugar. If you add a stevia leaf to your hot beverage or use pure stevia to sweeten any of your food or drinks, you will benefit from stevia's sweet taste without adding any carbohydrates to your daily intake. However, the sweetening power of stevia in liquid form is very concentrated and only tiny amounts should be used to keep your foods and drink pleasantly palatable. Follow the recommendations on the stevia products you choose.
Stevia blends are usually mixed with maltodextrin to allow you to use them just like you would use regular table sugar. By adding maltodextrin to stevia powder, you can substitute either 1 tsp. or 1 cup of sugar directly with either 1 tsp. or 1 cup of stevia blend. Maltodextrin is obtained from corn and does contain some carbohydrates. As a result, 2 tsp. of stevia contains about 1 g of carbohydrates, which would correspond to about 25 g of carbohydrates per cup of stevia blends. The exact amount can vary from one blend to another, so always check the label for a more accurate carb count.
Keeping Your Carbs Under Control
If you are trying to keep your carbs under control, it is important that you take the carb content of your stevia blend into consideration when counting your daily carb intake. If you use only very small amounts in your tea or coffee, the 0.5 g of carbohydrates per teaspoon is not likely to be problematic, but using stevia blend in larger amounts could make your daily carb intake add up. Alternatively, you can switch to using stevia in the liquid form to keep your carbs lower.