Food & Beverage

Aug 30, 2018

STEVIA

This is already the century to take care of the body balance and healthcare. From the trip to gym three times a week, jogging in a park or by a river side or even on the beach, vegan food or even the external visual care, it will all do so that people can feel good with themselves.

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By JORGE MATIAS

Since the beginning of the 21stcentury, health regulatory authorities have placed a closer look at the power supply of the population and alerted to the benefits or the care with the intake of certain substances. Among the targets singled out are the consumption of salt and sugar.

In the case of sugar, there are several surrogates widely known for over 50 years. But one of the more natural is undoubtedly stevia, a natural sweetener without calories, that has been used as a substitute for natural sugar and aromatic ingredient for hundreds of years. Stevia is a natural vegetable extract derived from leaves of stevia plant.

The stevia plant is native from South America. It began to be consumed for more than 200 years, in South America, where indigenous peoples used the leaves of the plant to sweeten drinks or to chew them, due to its sweet taste. Traditionally, the leaves of the plant (often referred to as "sweet herb") were dried and used to sweeten mate, teas and medicines.

The stevia plant was registered scientifically for the first time in 1899 as 'Eupatorium rebaudianum' by Moisés Santiago Bertoni in Paraguay. In 1905, it was renamed as Stevia rebaudiana, a member of the sunflower family.

Was adopted commercially as a sweetener for the first time in Japan in early 1970, where still today is an appreciated ingredient. It is cultivated mainly in Paraguay, Kenya, China and United States, in addition to many other parts of the world, including Vietnam, Brazil, India, Argentina and Colombia.

The components of the sweet flavor of stevia are called steviol glycosides, which are naturally present in the stevia leaf. Each steviol glycoside has a flavor profile and an intensity of sweetness. Purified extracts of stevia leaves contain a glycoside of steviol glycosides or different, which can be up to 400 times sweeter than sugar.

The stages of the extraction process include: the grind of the leaves, the water extraction, filtration and separation of liquid plant material; then the purification of the extract with water or food-grade alcohol, followed by drying, in order to obtain a high purity of leaf extract.

This extraction and purification process gives the purified leaf extract a crisper and more sugar-like flavour than the crude stevia extracts. These may contain plant components that add additional flavors, thus not having a purely sweet taste. Purification is also needed to satisfy safety standards for use in food and beverages.

The sweetness of approximately three leaves of stevia can replace the amount of sugar that is usually found in a soda can with a sugar reduction of up to 25%.

The high purity Stevia extract is defined as containing 95% or more of glycoside of Steviol and is often presented as stevia, steviol glycosides, stevia extract, purified stevia leaf extract, high purity or rebian stevia.

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