Q1 : What is STEVIA?

STEVIA belongs to the chrysanthemum family and grows in the wild in Paraguay and Brazil.  It is characterized by diminutive flowers and small leaves. Known locally as “Ca-he-he” which can be translated as “sweet-herb” or “honey leaf” due to its sweet taste, STEVIA has been
used by local herbalists as sweeteners for teas and in food for many centuries.[1]

It wasn’t until 1899 in which Swiss botanist Moisés Santiago BERTONI, first described the STEVIA plant and
its sweet taste in detail during his research in eastern Paraguay.[2]  Only limited research was conducted on
the topic until 1931, in which two French chemists isolated the glycosides that give STEVIA its sweet taste.
These compounds were named STEVIOSIDE and REBAUDIOSIDE and are 250 – 300 times as sweet as sucrose,
heat stable, pH stable, and non-fermentable.[3]

In the early 1970s, Japan began cultivating STEVIA as an alternative to artificial sweeteners such as cyclamate
and saccharin, which were suspected to be carcinogenic.  The plant's leaves, the aqueous extract of the
leaves, and purified STEVIOSIDES are used as sweeteners.  Since the Japanese firm Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd.
produced its first commercial STEVIA sweetener in Japan in 1971[4], the Japanese have been using STEVIA in food
products, soft drinks (including Coca Cola) [5]<, and for table use.  Japan currently consumes more STEVIA than any other country, with STEVIA accounting for 40% of the sweetener market.[6]

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Q2: What are some characteristics and benefits of STEVIA

STEVIANNA plant is nutritionally rich and has no caloric value.  It contains substantial amounts of protein, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.  It has been proven and used worldwide by many as food addictive and dietary supplement.

Research has shown that one will benefit from consuming STEVIA in the following ways:

 

STEVIA is a 100% natural sweetener;[7][15][16][19]

STEVIA may have therapeutic potential in reducing blood pressure;[8][9] [11][19][20][21]

STEVIA controls blood sugar levels (different from sugar cane and sugar);[8][9][11]

STEVIA maintains heat stability at 95 °C and features a lengthy shelf life;[16]

STEVIA have therapeutic potential in the treatment of Type II diabetes [9][12][20]

STEVIA acts as a plaque retardant and prevents cavities;[19][20][21]

STEVIA (STEVIOSIDE or REBAUDIOSIDE A) is non-carcinogenic;[13]

STEVIA is non-fermentable and non-discoloring; [3][20]

STEVIA passes non-toxic tests and shows no abnormalities; [14]

STEVIA inhibits the growth and reproduction of bacteria and other infectious organism. [14]

STEVIA has been used by humans with no adverse effects[10][20],

STEVIA (and other related compounds) have anti-hyperglycemic, anti-hypertensive and anti-inflammatory actions[18]

STEVIA also has anti-tumor, anti-diarrheal, diuretic, and immunological actions; [18]

STEVIA has an excellent healing capability without scarring if placed on skin cuts.

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Q3 : What are the relationships between STEVIA, STEVIA extracts, STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES and REBAUDIOSIDE A ?

The term STEVIA refers to a preparation (powder or liquid) of dried STEVIA leaves. The leaves contain sweet components called STEVIOL glycosides – including but not limited to REBAUDIOSIDE A, STEVIOSIDE, REBAUDIOSIDES B, C, D, F, STEVIOLBIOSIDE, RUBUSOSIDE and DULCOSIDE A.  Preparations from the STEVIA leaf may be extracted to contain a mixture of STEVIOL glycosides, a concentrated mix of STEVIOL glycosides or a single concentrated STEVIOL glycoside. These are named accordingly and can be used as a sugar substitute to sweeten food and beverages and as a table-top sweetener. [34]

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Q4: How safe is STEVIA? Are there any side-effects? Are there any allergies?

“STEVIA has been used as a sweetening ingredient in foods and drinks by South American natives for many centuries, and there is no report of any plant toxicity to the consumers (Suttajit, 1993).  STEVIA has been added to a number of food products in Japan since the mid 1970s. No indications of any significant side effects have yet been reported after more than 20 years of use. Similarly, no reports of any adverse reactions have been reported in the United States.”

Dr. Ray Sahelian, MD

“My favorite sweeteners are the natural ones.  Topping the list is STEVIA.  This herb has been used for over 1,500 years in South America and continues to boast worldwide popularity.  It is calorie-free and does not affect glucose levels, making it easier to control blood sugar.Just a few drops of a liquid concentrate or a dusting of powdered STEVIA is all you need to lend sweetness to any dish.”

Dr. Julian Whitaker, MD

The safety of STEVIA extracts has been extensively reviewed and scientifically proven by numerous international organizations such as the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).  Studies of STEVIA extracts clearly support the safety of these ingredients. Further, clinical studies show that STEVIA extracts meeting purity criteria established by JECFA have no effect on either blood pressure or blood glucose response, indicating that STEVIA extracts are safe for use by persons with diabetes. [34]

Results of new studies presented to the Joint Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Addictive (JECFA) shows no adverse effect of STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES by people with Type II diabetes mellitus and individuals with normal or low-normal blood pressure. [26]

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that the use of REBAUDIOSIDE A in STEVIA as a food ingredient is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). To date, the FDA has stated that it has no questions in response to a number of separate STEVIA extract GRAS notifications. [27][28][34]

STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES have been extensively evaluated and determined to be safe by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/ World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). [23]
STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES are permitted to be used as sweeteners in food in countries like Mainland China, Japan, Korea, Australia,New Zealand and the USA. [15][23][25]

On 11th November, 2011, the European Commission allowed the usage of STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES as food addictive, establishing maximum content levels for different types of food and beverages. [15][29][30]
According to the Sweeteners in Food Regulations (Cap. 132U) in Hong Kong, STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES is one of the permitted sweeteners. [23][24]

There are no known side-effects or allergies from the use of STEVIA extracts in food and beverages. [34]

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