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Stevia the sweet herb is a gift of Mother Nature, a wonder substitute for artificial sweetener such as Aspartame, saccharin etc. Stevia extracts are up to 400 times sweeter than the Cane Sugar. A very small quantity of stevia is required for substituting cane sugar, if you are using 4 kg of cane sugar per month, then a 10gm of Stevia will equal your monthly needs.
The Guarani Indians of ancient Paraguay had known for centuries about the unique advantages of Stevia. They commonly used its leaves to enhance the taste of bitter mate (a tea-like beverage) and medicinal potions, or simply chewed them for their sweet taste. By the 1800s, the use of Stevia was prevalent throughout the region -- not just in Paraguay, but also in neighboring Brazil and Argentina. The credit for stevia's "discovery" goes to an Italian scientist, Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, director of the College of Agriculture in Asuncion.
Bertoni's "discovery" was a turning point for Stevia in one very real sense (other than being identified, analyzed and given a name). Whereas prior to 1900 it had grown only in the wild, with consumption limited to those having access to its natural habitat, it now became ripe for cultivation
As word of this unique sweet herb began to spread, so, too, did interest in its potential as a marketable commodity.
Stevia is considered as a potential alternative source for replacing artificial sweeteners like saccharin & aspartame. It’s extracts are up to 400 times sweeter than the Cane Sugar. Stevia is increasingly finding acceptability, as an alternative sugar in the global commodity. It is expected that in coming decade, the demand of Stevia leaves will exceed 6-8 Million metric tons p.a. worldwide.
Today Stevia is increasingly being used as a table top sugar and also as an ingredient in the food and beverage industry.
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