Stevia: an ally to healthy lifestyles
18 August 2016 • Author(s): Chris Peterson, Communications Manager and Maria Teresa Scardigli, Executive Director, International Stevia Council
The world is facing a global obesity epidemic. While widespread, the good news is that obesity is a problem that can be contained. Faced with less-than-healthy diets, in recent years individuals and regulatory groups are making a positive pivot.
Excessive calorie intake has been a focal point for what is increasingly viewed as a global war on obesity. From diabetes to heart disease, health professionals around the world are cautioning that the overconsumption of high-calorie foods can be debilitating and, in some cases, lethal. The result has been a massive campaign on the part of governments and advocacy groups to steer global populations in a healthier direction.
In the past groups have grappled with tough decisions to curb unhealthy patterns. The biggest difference today is that the obesity epidemic has countless potential solutions – and many of them don’t require consumers to dramatically change their eating habits.
The last decade has seen dramatic shifts in public perception of healthy versus unhealthy ingredients. Natural sweeteners, like Stevia, are emerging as a key component of a broader strategy to reduce calories. Stevia product launches have soared over the last few years, and consumer tastes are adapting to lower calorie options.
As a natural, zero-calorie high-intensity sweetener, Stevia appears to hold great promise as consumers adapt to healthier lifestyles.
What is Stevia?
Of the various types of sweeteners, not all are derived from natural sources. Stevia is among the most commonly recognised zero calorie natural sweeteners, sourced from the Stevia plant.
Stevia as an ingredient is naturally derived from the Stevia plant, a small shrub in the sunflower family native to Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Stevia is widely thought to have been used for centuries by the indigenous people of South America to sweeten food and medicine, although modern knowledge of Stevia as a sweetener is largely attributed to Italian-Swiss botanist, Dr Moisés S. Bertoni, whose research dates back to 1901.
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