The Sweet Components of Stevia
San Antonio, TX. Stevia is a natural sweetener without calories, extracted from the leaves of the plant speciesStevia rebaudiana, used for more than 1500 years by the Guaraní people from Brazil and Paraguay, to sweeten their local mate tea and as medicine.
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. GSI states that the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni contain several steviol glycosides, the compounds that give stevia intense and concentrated sweetness. There are many steviol glycosides naturally present in the stevia leaf, but, due to their relative abundance in the leaf, 11 of them are typically focused on by product developers. Furthermore, the use in food and beverages of these 11 steviol glycosides has been approved by leading global food safety authorities. Steviol glycosides are increasingly being used in combinations in packaged foods and beverages to achieve the ideal sweetness profile given the food matrix or beverage composition. These combinations meet the requirements of the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Generally rebaudioside A and stevioside are the major glycosides found in stevia leaves, with steviosides like rebaudioside D in much lower concentrations. To extract these components, the stevia plant must be submitted to a purification process in order to get a high purity stevia leaf extract, that can meet the requirements of JECFA.
According to GSI, the process begins by drying the stevia leaves and then steeping them in water. Next, the liquid extract is filtered and separated from the leaves and stems. The plant extract is further purified with water or food grade alcohol. If food grade alcohol is used, it is later removed. Other process may be used in some cases. Once this is complete, stevia extractcompounds are the exact same compounds as found in the leaves, that is, they are molecularly identical. The extraction and purification process gives purified stevia leaf extract a cleaner, more sugar-like taste than crude stevia extracts. Only high purity stevia leaf extracts, but not crude stevia extracts, have been approved for use in foods and beverages.
In Mexico METCO® was the first company to get a patent on low-calorie sugar and on the use of stevia extract. It is one of the few Mexican companies whose products – among them SVETIA® with stevia extract – are the result of its own technology, which is as well, a result of its own research and development process. The steviol glycoside rebaudioside A (Reb A), that is used in SVETIA® is obtained from a co-crystallization process patented by METCO® and approved by international food safety authorities.
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.