What is Stevia?

Stevis is a sweetening plant, which has 10 times more sweetening taste than the normal table sugar.

Stevis has its origin in America. It is a genus of about 240 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. Scientifically, the species Stevia rebaudiana is commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. The plant is known for its sweetening nature, as it is a source of natural sweeteners. Due to this quality, the plant is used for treating diabetes, along with the other issues like dealing with weight loss, high blood pressure and heartburn; for lowering uric acid levels; for preventing pregnancy; and for increasing the strength of the muscle contractions that pump blood from the heart.

From hundred of years ago, the native South American population used stevia in their daily lives. The plant was originally available in the form of “dietary supplement” in the U.S. countries, and wasn’t allowed as a “food additive” until 2008. After this year, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status to rebaudioside A (a chemical in stevia, which is sweet in nature). It is said that the plant is 10 times more sweetener than the table sugar.

In the market, the stevia extract is available in the form of liquid or crystals. The extract thus available id highly concentrated in nature, and hence it is to be used in a definite proportion, or else the too concentrated form may give rise to bitter licorice-like taste. Stevia flavored mixture along with the sparkling water is used by some industries, in order to produce the , calorie-free alternative such as the diet soda. Also, the plant is used in medicines from several years. The plant is used to add the extra sweet flavors in Sprite Green, Vitamin Water, and Odwalla juices among the products. Other than U.S the plant is also available as a sweetener in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Russia, Israel, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Argentina.

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