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What is Stevia?

stevia

Stevia is a nutrient ­rich herb. It is a small, plant of the Asteraceae, also called Compositae (daisy) family, found originally growing along the edges of the rainforest by the Guarani natives of Paraguay. Paraguayans believe it was first used by their ancestors more than 1,500 years ago, both for its sweet taste and medicinal benefits.

Containing more than 100 vital nutrients that have been identified, the leaves can be 30 or more times sweeter than sugar, depending upon the variety, location and time of harvest. The variety determines the amount and blend of glycosides within each stevia leaf.

The scientific name of stevia is : Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni. Some commonly known names are honey leaf plant, sweet chrysanthemum, sweetleaf stevia, sugarleaf, sweet tulsi.etc

Recent scientific trials firmly establish that this sweet­leaf herb has many health benefiting plant-derived phyto­chemical compounds that help control blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure in addition to its use as natural sweetener. Together with the rise in demand for low­calorie food alternatives, stevia has drawn the attention of health conscious fitness lovers all over the planet.Stevia plant grows 2­4 feet in height with slender, branched stems, and flourishes well all over temperate, and some parts of tropical regions.

Almost all the parts of the plant tastes sweet; however, the sweet glycosides are typically concentrated in its dark­green serrated leaves. The Guarani Indians of Paraguay have used its leaves to sweeten drinks and foods, and employed in various traditional medicines. In the modern times, it is widely used in foods in many parts of India, East Asian region and South American countries.

Stevia is a nutrient ­rich herb from South America. It is a small, plant of the Asteraceae family, also called Compositae (daisy) family, found originally growing along the edges of the rainforest by the Guarani Indians in Paraguay. It was first used more than 1,500 years ago, both for its sweet taste and medicinal benefits.

The scientific name of Stevia is: Stevia rebaudiana. Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, director of the College of Agriculture in Asuncion, a Swiss botanist of Italian descent, discovered Stevia in 1887. He said “A fragment of the leaf only a few square millimeters in size suffices to keep the mouth sweet for an hour, a few small leaves are sufficient to sweeten a strong cup of coffee or tea”.

It is commonly known as Honey Leaf Plant, Sweet Chrysanthemum, Sweet-Leaf Stevia, Sugar-Leaf, and Sweet Tulsi etc.

The usage of Stevia extracts as a sweetener for human consumption has been approved by major regulatory authorities across the world. In 2008 and 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization’s Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), a global panel of food ingredient safety experts, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated the use of high purity Steviol glycosides (≥95%) is safe for human consumption, with an acceptable daily Intake (ADI) expressed in Steviol equivalents of up to 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.

In 2011, the European Commission authorized the use of high purity Steviol glycosides (≥95%) in foods and beverages across the European Union. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India approved the same in March 2015, while Japan has been using Stevia for over 50 years. Over 150 countries have approved Stevia for human consumption till now.

The leaves are 30 or more times sweeter than sugar as it contains more than 100 vital nutrients that have been identified. The sweetness depends on the variety, location and time of harvest. The variety determines the amount and blend of glycosides in each Stevia leaf.