STEVIA (SWEET LEAF) -Your Substitute For Sugar


SUBSTITUTE YOUR SUGAR WITH THE SWEET LEAF-STEVIA

SOURCE :WIKIPEDIA

The species Stevia (rebaudiana), commonly known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia’s taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar, although some of its extracts may have a bitter or licorice-like aftertaste at high concentrations.

Image taken from organicsansar.com

With its steviol glycoside extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar stevia has attracted attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar sweeteners. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose it is attractive to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

The availability of stevia varies from country to country. In a few countries, it has been available as a sweetener for decades or centuries; for example, it has been widely used for decades as a sweetener in Japan. In some countries health concerns and political controversies have limited its availability; for example, the United States banned stevia in the early 1990s unless labeled as a dietary supplement, but in 2008 it approved rebaudioside A extract as a food additive. Over the years, the number of countries in which stevia is available as a sweetener has been increasing. In 2011 stevia was approved for use in the EU.

The genus Stevia consists of 240 species of plants native to South America, Central America, and Mexico, with several species found as far north as Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. They were first researched by Spanish botanist and physician Petrus Jacobus Stevus (Pedro Jaime Esteve 1500–1556), from whose surname originates the Latinized word stevia. Human use of the sweet species S. rebaudiana originated in South America. The leaves of the stevia plant have 30–45 times the sweetness of sucrose (ordinary table sugar). The leaves can be eaten fresh, or put in teas and foods.

The plant was used extensively by the Guarani people for more than 1,500 years, and the plant has a long history of medicinal use in Paraguay and Brazil. The leaves have been traditionally used for hundreds of years in Paraguay and Brazil to sweeten local teas, medicines and as a “sweet treat”.

Commercialization

Steviol glycosides were first commercialized as a sweetener in 1971 by the Japanese firm Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd., a leading stevia extract producer in Japan.

Stevia has been grown on an experimental basis in Ontario, Canada since 1987 to determine the feasibility of commercial cultivation.

Folk medicine and research

For centuries the Guaraní peoples of Paraguay used stevia, which they called ka’a he’ê (“sweet herb”), as a sweetener in yerba mate and other foods, and medicinally as a cardiac stimulant, for obesity, hypertension and heartburn, and to help lower uric acid levels. Current research has evaluated its effects on obesity and hypertension. Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, and may even enhance glucose tolerance; it may be useful as a natural sweetener for diabetics and others on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

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