What Are Steviol Glycosides?
San Antonio, TX. Stevia is extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, used for more than 1500 years by the Guaraní people from Brazil and Paraguay, to sweeten their local mate tea and as medicine. The component in this plant with the best sweetener properties is rebaudioside A (Reb A), that is used in SVETIA®, a calorie free sweetener produced by METCO FOODS INC., which can be found in all HEB stores across Texas.
According to the Global Stevia Institute (GSI) the sweet compounds of the stevia plant can be extracted from the leaf and can be used in products to achieve a very similar taste of sucrose. “We don’t eat or even chew on the whole leaf,” says Rachel Cheatham, PhD, Executive Director of GSI. “Many hundreds of years ago people in South America really did chew on the whole leaf, and you certainly can, but when we want to put stevia into meals such as yoghurt or into some kind of ice tea or beverage, then we must get the piece of the leaf that is really delivering the sweetness and it turns out, when you look at the leaf, that there are lots of these different compounds called steviol glycosides.” Cheatham explains that as stevia is a natural plant, there is some variability among its components and some steviol glycosides may be sweeter than others. “So we look at the leaf and we figure out which steviol glycoside is really delivering the right kind of sweetness for a certain product that we want to develop and we isolate that particular glycoside,” she says. In the case of SVETIA® this glycoside is rebaudioside A (Reb A).
The purification process of stevia, according to the GSI, includes the following steps: The dried leaves are steeped in water in order to release their sweet tasting steviol glycoside compounds –among them the rebaudioside A (Reb A). Next, the liquid is filtered and separated from the plant material. Then the extract is purified and dried to obtain high purity stevia leaf extract with the same sweet components as found in stevia’s natural leaves. These components, the steviol glycosides, are what food and beverage manufacturers use in their products. This process of purifying the glycosides gives stevia a more sugar-like taste compared to unprocessed crude stevia extracts. Importantly, the crude extracts are not approved for use by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is this method of purification that yields the high purity stevia extracts and is what is required to obtain the safety stamp of approval from regulatory agencies for use in foods and beverages.
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.