Iranian Researchers Produce Stevia Artificial Sweetener

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Active ImageIranian researchers have successfully managed to develop a safe and natural substitute for artificial sweeteners from an herb known as Stevia.

Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, an herb which grows wild in parts of Paraguay and Brazil has been used to sweeten a native beverage called 'mate' since pre-Columbian times.

"Stevia is a safe natural substitute for sugar and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sodium saccharine and cyclamate," Mohammad-Reza Mofid Mohaqheq, a scientist involved in the project held at Isfahan's Agricultural Jihad Organization said.

Extracted from the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant, the new lower calorie product is not only non-absorbable and non-digestible but also does not contribute to side effects commonly reported following the use of artificial sweeteners, said Mohaqheq.

He added that the product can lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure in the consumers.

Compared to refined sugar, crude stevia leaves and herbal powders are 10-15 times sweeter, said Mohaqheq, adding that the refined Stevia extracts, known as 'steviosides', are 250-300 times sweeter than table sugar.

Mohaqheq said Iran would be able to mass produce the sweetener from this plant in the coming year where after the product would be available on the market.

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