Stevia: Non caloric natural sweetener
Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni is a herbaceous perennial shrub native to the highlands of Paraguay and sections of Argentina and Brazil that are situated along the 25th Degree Line, South Latitude. It is widely diffused now in many parts of the world. Stevia leaves have been used for centuries by the Guarani Tribe of Paraguay, the Mestizos, and by other natives, that refer to Stevia as Caá-hê-é. They have used the herb to sweeten their bitter beverages (matè for example) since pre-Columbian times. Its use is nowadays approved in many countries, e.g. Brasil, Argentina, China, Japan. Stevia Rebaudiana contains six diterpenic glycosides that exhibit an intense sweet taste, the most importants being the Stevioside and Rebaudioside A, both about three hundred and four hundred times sweeter than saccharose, respectively. Minor components identified are Rebaudioside C, Dulcoside A, Rebaudioside E and Rebaudioside D. This work describes a new extraction procedure and the characterization of the Steviosides from leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana and its possible use as non caloric natural sweetener in food preparations.