What is Stevia?


What is Stevia?

Stevia is a simple plant originating from Paraguay.  It's like the mint or parsley that you grow in your garden. It’s been around forever, consumed for centuries in South America and has been consumed in Japan for decades. In fact, it makes up over 40% of their sweeteners.

The sweetness of the stevia plant comes from the Steviol glycosides in the leaves. There are  10 known Steviol glycosides in the stevia leaf. Some of these glycosides are sweeter than others. Rebaudioside A is considered to be the sweetest.

The leaves are harvested, and processed into different forms of “stevia”:

Reducing Sugar With SteviaFresh leaves which can be added to beverages and teas. This is the most natural unrefined form of Stevia.

Dried leaves which are 10-30 times sweeter than sugar. This will be a green powder or leaf pieces.

Reducing Sugar With Stevia
Stevia Liquid Concentrate which is made by boiling whole leaves until it’s a thick dark syrup.
Reducing Sugar With Stevia
Stevia Powder.   Stevia powdered extract is made from the sweetest parts of the stevia leaf. Powered stevia sold as a dietary supplement has more parts of the leaf in it.  Forms sold as sweeteners are made from just a few parts of the plant.

Reducing Sugar With Stevia
Liquid Stevia Extract is stevia powder dissolved in water, glycerin, or alcohol.  Just like the powder it can be sold as a dietary supplement or a sweetener.

Reducing Sugar With Stevia
Flavored Stevia Liquid Extract is liquid stevia extract with added flavors, spices or extracts in such small amounts that they are not required to be listed in the ingredients.

    If stevia is natural, where has it been all this time?

    1899 - M.S. Bertoni observes the Guarani Indians using stevia.  He is credited with 'discovering' it.
    1970's- Japan and other countries begin using stevia as a sweetener.
    1991- After receiving an “anonymous” complaint, the FDA banned stevia stating that studies on it’s safety were not adequate.
    1995- The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act forced the FDA in approving stevia as a “dietary supplement”.
    2008- Beginning in 2008....surprise....surprise....after some lobbying by big corporations like:  CocaCola,  Pepsi,  Merisant (makers of Equal),  McNeils Nutritionals (makers of Splenda), the FDA  approves two forms of stevia as sweeteners:
    • Rebaudioside A (minimum 95% Rebaudioside A)
    • High purity steviol glycoside extract (mostly Rebaudioside A and Stevioside)
      High purity steviol glycoside extract is usually sold in bottles or powdered form for home use.

      Reducing Sugar With Stevia
      Soda sweetened with Reb A
      Reb A is the most processed form of stevia and is found in most stevia sweetened products.

      In 2012, we began seeing Reb A sweetened products in grocery stores.  That said, in Canada, most stevia products are still found in the health food section.

      Back to Stevia homepage.

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