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Stevia set to rule intense sweetener market

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

The Stevia rebaudiana is commonly known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, or simply Stevia. This is widely grown for its sweet leaves. Stevia and Sunflower belong to asteraceae family. The sweet herb Stevia is becoming a major source of natural sweetener as an alternate to sugar. It is rapidly replacing chemical sweetener like Splenda, Saccharine and Aspartame. 

The plant is native to tropical and subtropical regions of North America and South America. There are near about 240 species of Stevia Genus. It is grown widely in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela. In Venezuela it is being used over 1500 years. 

Nutrient content: 

Stevia is nutrient rich, containing substantial amount of Protein, Magnesium, Miocene, riboflavin, Zinc, Chromium, Selenium, Calcium and Phosphorus. It can also be used as a house hold sweetener in preparation of many Indian sweetmeats.  Stevia leaves are 30 times sweeter than normal sugar. The extract of Stevia Rebaudioside-A is around 300-400 times sweeter than normal sugar. The sweetness of Stevia also felt for long time.  There are two compounds in Stevia leaves  

1.) Stevioside (10%-20%) and  

2.) Rebaudioside- A(1-3%). The Stevioside is stable at 100 °C this is main advantage of Steviocide over other sweetener. 

Today Stevia is ready to become King in the market of sweetener. As demand of low carbohydrate sweetener is rising day by day. Stevia is available in many forms. The choice is totally dependent amount of sweetness we want. The fresh leaves are least sweet and the extracted white powder is the sweetest.  A good market is being developed for Stevia domestically as well as internationally. This is a ray of hope for the diabetic patients. As it is natural source of sweetener, it can be used for the treatment of obesity and high blood sugar patient. There is no increase in sugar level after consumption of Stevia as sweetener as substitute of normal sugar. 

Stevia, therefore, opens up new avenues for crop diversification and a viable alternative to sugarcane. There is a potential to use Stevia in soft drinks, confectionery and bakery etc. Instead of sweeteners with known adverse side effects in the long run. Stevia prevents tooth decay with its microbial property. Majority of the supplementary food products for diabetic patients emphasize on the fibre and protein content the addition of the Stevia leaves, dried or in powder form, in such products would not only aid in increasing the natural sweetness but would also help in rejuvenating the pancreatic gland.  Countries like Japan and Korea use it as a sweetener. But there are few countries that have banned its use. Stevia crop has good potential in India. The investment in Stevia is tax free and the return starts coming early.

Fresh Stevia leaves: This form of Stevia is the herb in its most natural, unrefined state. A leaf picked from a Stevia plant and chewed will impart an extremely sweet taste sensation reminiscent of licorice that lasts for quite a while.  For Stevia to have a more practical application as a tea or sweetener, the leaves must be dried or put through an extraction process, which makes the sweet taste even more potent. 

Dried leaves: For more of the flavour and sweet constituents of the Stevia leaf, drying and crushing is necessary. A dried leaf is considerably sweeter than a fresh one, and is the form of Stevia used in brewing herbal tea. Dried Stevia leaf may come in bulk or packaged like tea bags. You can also get it finely powdered. It has a greenish color and can be used in a wide variety of foods and beverages, including coffee, applesauce and hot cereals.

Stevia extracts: 

The form in which Stevia is primarily used as a sweetener in Japan is that of a white powdered extract. In this form it is approximately 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar (by weight).This white powder is an extract of the sweet glycosides (natural sweetening agents) in the Stevia leaf. Not all Stevia extract powders are the same. The taste, sweetness and cost of the various white Stevia powders will likely depend on their degree of refinement and the quality of the Stevia plant used. You may find that some powders have more of an aftertaste. Since extracted Stevia powder is so intensely sweet, so only a pinch must be used. Once mixed, this solution should be stored in the refrigerator. 

Liquid concentrates: 

These come in several forms. There's a syrupy black liquid (that results from boiling the leaves in water), which can enhance the flavour of many foods. Another type is made by steeping Stevia leaves in distilled water or a mix of water and grain alcohol. You can also find a liquid made from the white powder concentrate mixed with water, and preserved with grapefruit seed extract.


Prashant Chaturvedi
Mob: 8107379410
Email: info@hcms.org.in

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