The first great-tasting, zero-calorie natural sweetener that’s a miracle of nature, not chemistry.
The Stevia plant is native to Brazil and Paraguay. Species of the plant are found all over South and Central America. Stevia is also known as sugarleaf; this is because it is grown primarily for its sweet leaves. In fact, the leaves are over 30 times the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar), and its extract is up to 300 times the sweetness of sucrose. Stevia can be found in the wild in semi-arid climates, such as grasslands and mountain terrains. Stevia plants do produce seeds, but planting clones has been proven to be much more effective. Stevia has gained a lot of attention thanks to the demand for low-sugar and low-carbohydrate foot additives.
Stevia leaves have been used for 1500 years by the Guarani Indians of Paraguay as a soothing tonic for the stomach and as a healing concentrate when cooked in water. It was first discovered and introduced to Europe in 1899 by M. S. Bertoni. Since then, hundreds of scientific tests have been performed on these sweet leaves, which have been found to contain, among other elements, Vitamin C, calcium, beta-carotene, chromium, fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, protein, and silicon.
The botanical name of Stevia is Stevia Rebaudiana. The plant is also known as honey leaf, sweet herb, Yerba Dulce, candy leaf, Ka He and Paraguayan sweet herb. Stevioside, the extract from the leaves of Stevia, has 30 to 45 times the sweetness of sucrose.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is thought to help prevent diabetes. It also has antibacterial properties and is used to alleviate bleeding gums,
Stevia has shown promise in treating high blood pressure and obesity. It also enhances the body’s tolerance for glucose. Diabetics have found use for Stevia as a natural sweetener. It can reduce hypertension and may even promote production of insulin. The body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides from the stevia leaf or any of its processed forms – so there is no caloric intake. Stevia doesn’t adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics.
Stevia inhibits the growth and reproduction of oral bacteria and other infectious organisms. Regular users of stevia as a mouthwash or for brushing teeth (added to toothpaste) have reported an improvement to bleeding gum problems to prevent plaque on teeth, and to treat sore throats. This inhibition of oral bacteria may explain why users of stevia-enhanced products report a lower incidence of colds and flu. Subsequently, an increasing number of toothpaste manufacturers are now using stevia in their products.
It is used in foods in China, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and many other countries. It is slowly gaining acceptance as a healthy sugar substitute in the United States as well. Those who wish to reduce sugar in their diet can turn to many popular Stevia recipes, including lemonade, cookies, smoothies, ginger ale, and even breakfast porridge. Stevia can be found in most health food stores.
Stevia is is a low-calorie natural sweetener. It is used as a flavor enhancer in cereals, breads, juices, sherbets and candies. It is also used to flavor soft drinks and to add flavor to toothpaste and mouthwash. It is available in liquid and powdered form. The FDA finally approved the use of Stevia as a no calorie sweetner. Both Coke and Pepsi jumped on the band wagon to use the sweetener.