The History of Sweetness, Its Excesses, and Stevia as a Solution
San Antonio, TX. Throughout history, humans have had a predilection for sweetness, but excessive sugar intake is not always good for health. Today SVETIA® CALORIE FREE SWEETENER is a solution.
According to the Global Stevia Institute (GSI), since the early days of agriculture it was preferred to grow the sweetest varieties of fruits and vegetables (like sweet corn). Honey was one of the first natural sweeteners to be used, another being maple syrup, obtained from maple sap, discovered by North American natives.
Other plants with sweet components were discovered, such as sugarcane and sugar beet, which are easy to grow in appropriate climates, but which need to have a further processing to obtain sugar, which includes crushing the plant and purification. Sweeteners have also been obtained from other plants, such as agave, rice, and corn.
Long ago, sugar was indispensable in the kitchen. With the advent of pre-cooked foods with sweetening incorporated during manufacture, sweet foods became more accessible than ever.
While the desire for sweets has not changed, lifestyles have evolved. Currently there are fewer opportunities for exercise and more opportunities to eat and drink. In combination with genetic, metabolic, and hereditary conditions, excessive intake of added sugars has been linked to an energy imbalance, leading overweight and obesity throughout the world. According to the World Health Organization, the global epidemic of overweight and obesity is fast becoming a major public health problem in many parts of the world. One of the main reasons why it is advisable to reduce sugar in diet is its contribution to excessive calories. Excessive sugar intake can displace important nutrients and promote tooth decay. Still, the desire to eat sweet foods continues unabated. Despite the emergence of sugar substitutes, consumers express a preference for a source of natural sweeteners with low-calorie or no-calorie at all.
Stevia is a natural sweetener without calories based on a plant that has been used for hundreds of years as a regular part of the diet in many parts of the world. Stevia is a plant native to South America. Its leaves are naturally sweet. In fact, the indigenous people chew them for their sweet taste and use them to naturally sweeten beverages. In the 1970s, Japan was the first country to commercially adopt the use of stevia.
The Global Stevia Institute says that the stevia genus includes over 100 species and many of them contain sweet compounds. However, only two species – mainly Stevia rebaudiana – contain the sweet-tasting components, scientifically called steviol glycosides, which can be anywhere from 200 to 350 times sweeter than sugar – but all without calories.
The GSI states that the purified stevia is 100 percent natural, it contains no calories, and it is 400 times sweeter than sucrose. It is stable to temperature variations; it is not fermentable and does not promote tooth decay. The safety of steviol glycosides for human health has been the subject of several studies over the years. After analyzing all the data on toxicity, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that steviol glycosides are not carcinogenic, genotoxic or associated with any developmental toxicity.
The Food and Drug Administration has labeled stevia as “safe” after having received several studies regarding the toxicology of steviol glycosides. Clinical studies in humans have shown that people with hypertension and Type 1 and 2 diabetes have a good tolerance to stevia consumption.
Stevia can be found as a component of SVETIA® CALORIE FREE SWEETENER, a stevia extracted sweetener produced by METCO FOODS INC.
SVETIA® Calorie – Free Sweetener is made with cane sugar and stevia extract. One packet of SVETIA® contains only one gram of carbohydrates. People with diabetes are advised to check with their registered dietitian or physician.