STEVIA, A Natural Sweetener Dr. Kumar Pati, USA Best Nutrition Inc. USA

STEVIA, A Natural Sweetener

 

Dr.KumarPati,USA

Best Nutrition IncUSA

 

 

Over 200 species belong to the plant genus, Stevia.  They are found inhabiting the subtropical and tropical regions covering North andSouth America.  When individuals refer to sweet leaf, sugar leaf or stevia, these pertain to the species Stevia rebaudiana.  North American production of stevia has increased in the recent years because of its use as a sweetener and sugar substitute. Japanhas known of stevia’s function for many years, while other counties have banned its use as a sweetener.  TheUnited Statesinitially restricted the use of stevia as a food additive, to be limited only in supplement use.  In 2008, one of the extracts found in stevia, rebaudioside-A, was approved for everyday food consumption.

 

Two glycoside compounds in stevia are responsible for the taste that is 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose.  Both, stevioside and rebaudioside, are heat stable, pH stable, and non-fermentable.  Unlike conventional sugar, the sweetness of stevia remains long after it has been consumed, but a slower onset of taste is experienced.   In addition, because the body does not metabolize the plant’s glycosides, zero calories result from the consumption of stevia extracts.

 

Aside from stevia’s sweetening taste the plant provides medicinal purpose.  In some countries ofSouth America, it is consumed as a tea to treat heartburn and other ailments.   Current medical studies have suggested a positive correlation between stevia intake and obesity and hypertension.  The effects as a sugar substitute are insignificant on the body’s blood glucose levels.  On the contrary, the tolerance for glucose in the body increases upon supplementing with stevia.

 

The United States FDA acknowledges rebaudioside A to be Generally Recognized as Safe.  With extensive research the World Health Organization (WHO) concludes both stevioside and rebaudioside A as not genotoxic, either in vitro or in vivo, with no indication of carcinogenic activity.  The current approved daily does for stevia is 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

 

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