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Stevia rebaudiana is a small green plant native to subtropical and tropical Central and South America. A member of the Chrysanthemum family, it is an herb with leaves that have a sweet, refreshing taste up to 15–20 times sweeter than sugar. (In isolation, stevioside and rebaudioside, the actual glycosides that give stevia its sweet taste, have been ranked at 150–250 times sweeter than table sugar!)

Stevia has been used by the Guaraní Indians for over 1500 years as a sweetener, tonic, topical treatment, and digestive aid. The actual herb contains close to 100 identified volatile oils and phytonutrients, including calcium, protein, sodium, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, vitamins A and C, and rutin. Unfortunately, Stevia sweetener contains far fewer of these phytonutrients and volatile oils due to it being more refined.

Nonetheless, stevia sweetener has no calories, does not raise blood sugar, and may help prevent cavities. Some research studies have concluded that stevioside is fluoride-compatible and inhibits the development of dental plaque.

Stevia herb may also be beneficial in treating diabetes, obesity, fatigue, infections, hypertension and other infections and diseases.

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Principal Author: M. Ofiyeva
Date of Initial Publication: 06/27/2007
Article Last Updated: 03/10/2011