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Stevia Throughout History

Stevia is an herb that comes from a leafy shrub that’s closely related to marigolds, chrysanthemums, ragweeds, and sunflowers. Stevia is widely known as a healthy sugar substitute, and consumers around the world use it to avoid the negative nutritional effects of sugar while still enjoying sweet drinks and foods. Stevia contains zero calories and is up to 200 times sweeter than ordinary sugar.

Much has been known about its benefits, but it has always been an interesting feat to discuss about its history. Did you know that Stevia has gone by older than you think? Without further ado, here’s a crash course on Stevia throughout history.

An Ancient, Classic Affair

If you think that the classic sounds of coffee and tea cups tingling in a shop is a scene witnessed only in today’s world of the high society, think again. The use of sweeteners from Stevia dates back from the ancient tribes of South America, and they were among the first ones who considered themselves the sophisticated lovers of coffee and tea.

Around 1,500 years ago, the Guarani people in the country now known as Paraguay discovered a plant that has grown native in the region. It is characterized by its green leaves that produce a stunningly sweet taste. These people started chewing on the leaves and adding them on their tea beverages.

They named their helpful plant “kaa-he-he,” a term they used to refer to “sweet herb.” Since then, it has spread throughout the region, including the areas of Brazil and Argentina.

These ancient tribes used Stevia to balance out their blood sugar levels, remove skin blemishes, soften skin, nourish their pancreas, and combat depression among many other benefits.

A Royal Request

Due to the astonishing benefits of Stevia, this point in time would surely come by. Just like how gold and potatoes picked up the interest of European colonizers who set sail to the New World, Stevia became a reason they would come back and harvest the plant for the market to enjoy.

In the late 19th century, an Italian doctor named Dr. Moises Santiago Bertoni, who was then the director of the College of Agriculture in Paraguay, received a pack of these “kaa-he-he” leaves from the native plantation and included them in his botanical accounts. He named the plant Stevia Rebaudiana.

It was also during this time when the colonizers began importing the plant and the sweetener from the New World to their hometowns in Europe, all for the royalties and the community to try.

Japan Takes Interest In Stevia

History says that Stevia, though it has existed for several generations, was not made commercially viable in the market until the 1930s. During this time, French chemists isolated a white crystalline extract known as stevioside, which is responsible for giving the plant its sweet attributes.

It has also been noted that Japan became one of the first countries to market the alternative sweetener in large scale productions, as the Japanese authorities started regulating sugary additives to the people’s food in the 1960s.

In the late 1980s, Stevia has become an ingredient in bread, candies, ice cream, soft drinks, and more. In the mid-1990s, it has become part of the Japanese lifestyle.

Stevia Today

Right now, Stevia remains to maintain its position as a humble alternative to the mainstream sweetener products like sugar and syrups. Despite this fact, it is also now massive produced in nations such as China, Germany, Israel, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Various brands sell Stevia in either powder form or liquid drops, and NatriSweet is one of them. The brand offers various flavors of Stevia Liquid Drops and a pack of Stevia Powder which contain an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener that is used for recipes, for baking, and for your favorite drinks. 

References:

https://bodyecology.com/articles/brief_history_of_stevia.php

https://purisure.com/blogs/our-ingredients/stevia

http://www.stevia.net/history.htm

http://steviabenefits.org/history/