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Stevia - Nature's Sweetener
The stevia plant originally came from South America, where it is found in the rain forests of Brazil and Paraguay. It is now grown as a crop not only in those areas, but also in Japan, Korea, Thailand, and China.
Stevia has been used for many years by the native tribes of South America for diabetes, and in those countries it is also known as “honeyleaf” or “candyleaf” because the leaves, when chewed, give off a sweet taste that is similar to licorice. Today, the leaves are dried, powdered (resulting in a greenish powder), and then added to foods and drinks such as herbal teas, or the leaves go through an extraction process for the sweet compounds. If the extract is a liquid, it is usually a dark color, also with a licorice taste. If the extract is a powder, it is a fine, white powder.
In the United States, Stevia is a very popular herbal nutritional supplement. In other countries, the leaves from the Stevia plant have been popular as a non-sugar sweetener for many years. During World War II, Stevia was grown in England as a sugar substitute. Today, Japan is the nation with the largest use of Stevia as a sweetener, with sales of Stevia making up 40% of the sweetener market in that country. The reason Stevia is so popular because it does not appear to have any calories, nor does it affect blood sugar like most natural sweeteners (like sugar or honey).
Stevia is considered a very safe herb. There are no known interactions between Stevia and any medications or foods, and there have not been any reports of allergic reactions to Stevia.
What gives Stevia its natural sweetness? Stevia contains many natural chemicals, but the one that gives Stevia its sweetness is called “stevoside.” Stevoside is between 100 and 200 times sweeter than sugar by weight.
- Health Notes. “Stevia.” http://www.deliciouslivingmag.com/healthnotes
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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