Stevia (STEVIA REBAUDIANA) leaves have functional and sensory properties superior to those of many other high potency sweeteners. Stevia is likely to become a major source of high potency sweetener for the growing natural food market in the future. Although Stevia can be helpful to anyone, there are certain groups who are more likely to benefit from its remarkable sweetening potential. These include diabetics, those interested in decreasing caloric intake, and children.
Origin of Stevia Rebaudiana is in central Paraguay where it grows near the ponds and streams in wild conditions. Native Paraguayans have been consuming this herb in large quantities for many centuries. It was only during early fifties that Japanese stumbled upon this unique herb and took it to Japan where they have developed many varieties of this wonderful herb for large scale cultivation The leaves of this plant are 30 times sweeter than sugar , with zero calories. Where as pure extract is 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Stevia Rebaudiana is a small perennial growing up to 65-80 cm tall, with sessile, oppositely arranged leaves. Different species of Stevia contain several potential sweetening compounds, with Stevia Rebaudiana being the sweetest of all. Stevia is a semi-humid subtropical plant that can be grown easily like any other vegetable crop even in the kitchen garden. The soil should be in the pH range of 6.5- 7.5; well-drained red soil and sandy loam soil. Saline soils should be avoided to cultivate this plant.
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