Stevia, scientific name Stevia rebaudiana, is a plant belonging to the Asteraceae family native to parts of Paraguay and Brazil. Stevia is gaining popularity as a low-calorie natural sweetener since, from its leaves, a sweetener with zero calorific power but with a sweetening capacity over two hundred times higher than the common sugar is obtained. Stevia does not increase blood glucose, but, according to scientific studies such as the American research published on the Journal Appetite in 2010, it seems to be able to lower blood glucose and, for this reason, it is used by people suffering from diabetes, by people that have to keep blood sugar under control or in case of overweight in the preparation of sweets or where it is required to sweeten. In addition to these properties, stevia contains also mineral salts such as manganese and iron, proteins and is characterized by antibacterial, hypotensive and anti-acid properties. Stevia can be found in the form of dry extract or even in liquid form in specialized stores. Side effects are related to an abuse of this sweetener and are laxative effects. All right then? Actually not really, in fact there are studies, even if vague and conflicting, that claims a possible carcinogenic action of stevia because of its component, steviol. On the other hand, there are those who claim that this is a commercial trick to penalize stevia against another well-known sweetener, that is artificially prepared, the aspartame. In addition to this other scientific studies have demonstrated that steviol would be degraded by colon bacteria and largely eliminated by urine and for this reason not absorbed by the body. These results were presented by a group of Belgian researchers at a symposium in 2004. It is also true that stevia is used in many countries, such as Japan, without adverse effects. On the basis of these considerations, FAO and OMS have established a maximum dose of stevia of 2 mg / kg body weight for a safe action on the body and in Europe stevia can be purchased and used since 2 December 2011 while in America stevia has been approved since 2008.
Zero calorific power and ability to sweeten over two hundred times higher than sugar, does not increase blood glucose but improves insulin production, mineral salts, antibacterial and anti-acid properties.