Stevia is a naturally sweet plant native to South America; today, it is grown around the world, notably in Kenya, China, and the US. The sweet-tasting parts of the stevia leaf are up to 400 times sweeter than sugar and have gained popularity by food manufacturers.
‘Stevia leaf extract is a natural, zero calorie, high-intensity sweetener, used by global food and beverage companies as a zero-calorie alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Given the growing global concerns about obesity and diabetes, beverage and food companies are working responsibly to reduce sugar and calories in their products, responding to both consumers and health and wellness advocates.
High-purity stevia leaf extract has gained global recognition and received regulatory safety stamps of approval. Multiple, major global regulatory organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additive (JECFA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), have determined high-purity stevia leaf extract to be safe for consumption by children, adults and special populations.
The Company collaborates with farmers who grow the stevia plants and with food and beverage companies which seek to improve their low- and no-calorie formulations using a sweetener from plants.
Sweeteners from the stevia plant offer sugar-like taste and are becoming an increasingly important tool for these companies. Like sugar, stevia sweeteners are from plants. But unlike sugar, they enable low-calorie and zero-calorie formulations of beverages and foods.
Research has shown that the molecules of the stevia leaf are present and unchanged in the dried stevia leaf, through the commercial extraction and purification process, and in the final stevia leaf extract product. All major global regulatory organizations, across 65 countries, have approved the use of high-purity stevia leaf extracts in food and beverages.
Stevia is used as a sweetener in more than 16,000 foods and beverages around the globe including soft drinks, juices, waters, flavored milk, yogurts, baked goods, cereals, salad dressings, sauces, confections, tabletop sweeteners and more. When used correctly this non-nutritive sweetener can help achieve personal as well as public health goals to reduce calories and sugar intake and improve overall health.
Dr. Sidd Purkayastha, Vice President, Global Scientific & Regulatory Affairs at PureCircle said, "Stevia has no calories and has zero glycemic index and our extensive research has shown stevia is safe for all populations. Extensive safety and metabolism studies conducted by the scientific community and reviewed by major authorities led to the approval of stevia leaf extract, and supports stevia's role in a healthy lifestyle."
Role of Stevia In Bringing Down The Disease Burden
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates one person in 11 (422 million worldwide) has diabetes and predict that by 2030, diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death. To address this, health-conscious Indian consumers are determined to reduce sugar and calories in their diet.
Compared to other nutrients, sugar stands out to be the culprit for liver diseases, increased fat synthesis and cholesterol levels in the blood. This causes heart disease and triggers inflammation, cancer, arthritis.
The approval of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in December 2015 has opened a plethora of categories that can now incorporate stevia as a sweet source.
Dr. Keith Ayoob, Associate Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine commented, "As a health professional, I believe offering people a wide selection of low-and-zero-sugar foods and beverages gives people a significant advantage to help them moderate their sugar intake and manage weight. The benefits of stevia are numerous: great taste, natural origin, sustainable, zero calories, zero glycemic loads, and safe for the entire family, including children and pregnant women."
Mr. Ajay Chandran, Senior Director and Head of South Asia at PureCircle, said,"Unlike artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame or saccharine, stevia leaf extracts come from a plant. Stevia or Meethi Tulsi or Madhu Patra as it is called by Indian farmers is an ideal sweetener for Indian consumers to control calories without compromising great taste. India is a major part of our global calorie footprint. We are confident that by 2020 we will be able to help India to cut down 250 billion calories from Indian diet."