Stevia has long been an ingredient of choice for food and beverage manufacturers when looking to sweeten the taste of the products. With the powder derived from the natural leaves being 200 – 300 times sweeter than sugar it is a low calorie alternative that makes Stevia the ideal ingredient for diet and low calorie products.
Stevia is derived from a natural plant which is native to South America. The Stevia rebaudiana plant’s leaves are up to 40 times sweeter than sugar cane and over the past 50 years have been harvested and turned into powder for use in food and drinks.
Stevia has had a long history as a sweetener starting in South America in 500AD and has progressed into an ingredient commonly used in both health products and cooking across the globe.
500 AD – Guarani people of South America use Stevia leaves as a sweetner and call it Ka’a he’e.
1530 AD – Civilisations In both Paraguay and Brazil use Stevia leaves in medicines, to sweeten local teas and as a “sweet treat”.
1899 AD – Botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni conducts research on the Stevia plant in east Paraguay.
1931 – French chemists isolate what part of the Stevia leaf gives the sweet taste and extracts the glycosides now know as aglycone (steviol).
1970s – thanks to French research Stevia was beginning to be used commercially as an alternative to cyclamate and saccharin. Japanese company, Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co Ltd was the first to create a Stevia sweetener, which meant that Japan consumed more Stevia than any other nation on the planet.
1980s – The U.S began to use Stevia as an ingredient in the health and natural product market, becoming increasingly popular for those looking to lose weight.
1991 – FDA labelled Stevia as an “unsafe food additive”
1994 – Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act is released which advocates Stevia, meaning Stevia starts to be used within health and nutrition products.
1995 – FDA revise their stance on Stevia and permit it to be used as a dietary supplement.
1999 – The European Commission banned Stevia for use in food
2006 – Research carried out by the World Health Organisation found no adverse effects and the EU granted permission for Stevia to be used in the food market.
2011 – Study shows using a Stevia replacement over sugar can benefit those with diabetes and those wishing to reduce calorie intake.
2012 – More countries around the world such as Canada and South Africa approve the use of Stevia.
Since 2011 Stevia has been used in countries across the world including the UK, China, South Africa and the US as a food and drinks ingredient to improve taste whilst lowering the calorie levels.
It is still one of the leading ingredients in nutritional supplements and can be commonly found in whey protein amongst several other supplements.
As a Stevia supplier experts at Rigest are fully educated in the advantages of Stevia and can provide you with help and advice if you are looking for a sweetener for your food or drink products.