It is a natural plant sweetener that has no calories and was banned from food usage in the USA by lobbying from the sugar industry. That ban was applied throughout the world and has only recently been lifted in Australia and the USA 2008 and Europe 2011.
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) conducted a comprehensive risk assessment prior to approving the addition of Stevia to the Australian food supply in 2008, and concluded that steviol glycosides are unlikely to have adverse effects on health (blood pressure, blood glucose or other parameters in normal, hypotensive or diabetic subjects) at doses up to 11 mg/kg body weight (bw) per day. They specifically examined any potential adverse risk to children and diabetics and concluded “there are no public health and safety concerns for steviol glycosides when used as a food additive at the maximum levels proposed”.
The Stevia Rebaudiana plant is part of the Chrysanthemum plant family .
It is native to South and Central America, but is now grown in more than 20 countries throughout the world.
The sweetness found in Stevia is attributed to steviol glycosides found in its leaves.
Stevia is called “Ka’a He’e” (“Sweet herb”) in Guarani, the indigenous language of Paraguay and parts of Brazil
Stevia is a natural sweetener which is 200 to 300 times sweeter, when concentrated, than sugar .
If you grow the plant and eat the leaves or steep them to make a tea, they have a sweet taste. Most people find the after taste pleasant as well. They can become bitter if you let the plant flower. It is best to deflower so that it keeps growing leaves. The leaves become sweetest in Autumn prior to shutting down for winter.