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Stevia has been used for long to sweeten preparations. Stevia leaf extract has no calories and is an alternative to reduce one’s energy intake and added sugar consumption. Steviol glycocides is the component that renders its sweetness to stevia, which is 250 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.
The scientific name for Stevia is Stevia rebaudiana, a member of the sunflower (Asteraceae) family. Stevia is a native to South America. The plant leaves were often called “sweet herb.” The leaves were dried and used to sweeten teas, medicines or were chewed just for a sweet taste. As a plant extract, stevia was first commercially used as a sweetener in the 1970 in Japan. Stevia is now cultivated in the following countries: Paraguay, Kenya, China and U.S., Vietnam, Brazil, India, Argentina and Colombia.
The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) is the quantity of a substance that an individual can consume through their diet on a daily basis throughout their life, which does not cause any appreciable risk to health. The ADI for stevia is expressed as steviol equivalents of 4 mg per kg of body weight per day. This is approximately equivalent to 12 mg of high purity stevia extracts per kg of body weight per day (the conversion factor is 0.33). For instance, a 70 kg man could consume 70 X 12 = 840 mg stevia per day. Most food products contain far lesser quantities of stevia.
Using stevia as a sugar substitute may help limit calories and thereby curb the intake of other high calories sources of different forms of sugar.
- Stevia, Nature’s Zero-Calorie Sustainable Sweetener
A New Player in the Fight Against Obesity
Margaret Ashwell. Nutrition Today 2015 May; 50(3): 129–134
- What is stevia?
Hannah Nichols, Reviewed by Natalie Butler
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