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What are stevia and steviol glycosides?

Steviol glycosides are sweet substances found in the plant Stevia rebaudiana (often just called stevia). Twelve steviol glycosides are approved as sweeteners in the EU. They are not energizing (0 kcal), do not raise blood sugar (GI 0) and are also of natural origin. This makes them excellent for reducing sugar in foods and beverages. Here you can learn more about stevia and steviol glycosides. You will also get tips on more reading.

Stevia rebau­di­ana, often just called ste­via, is a plant that comes from the rain­forests of Paraguay and cen­tral South America. In English it is called can­dyleaf, sweet­leaf, or sug­ar­leaf. As the name implies, the leaves of the plant have a sweet taste. The sweet­ness comes from ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides found in its leaves. The leaves con­tain more than 40 dif­fer­ent ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, but the most com­mon are ste­vio­side (5–10%) and Rebaudioside A (2–5%).

Steviol glycosides as sweeteners

Stevia is cul­ti­vat­ed for com­mer­cial extrac­tion of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides in Paraguay, Kenya, China and the United States, among oth­er places. The ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides are used as sweet­en­ers. Within the EU, twelve ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides are approved as sweet­en­ers. They have E num­ber E 960.

Stevioside is the ste­vi­ol gly­co­side most com­mon­ly found in ste­via leaves (5–10%). It has a bit­ter taste and an after­taste rem­i­nis­cent of liquorice.

Rebaudiana A (which is often abbre­vi­at­ed as Reb A) is found in a small­er pro­por­tion of ste­via leaves (2–4%), but is the most com­mon­ly used ste­vi­ol gly­co­side in food and bev­er­ages. Compared with ste­vio­side, it has much less bit­ter off-taste and much less of an after­taste of liquorice.

Rebaudiana M (often abbre­vi­at­ed as Reb M) has no bit­ter­ness at all and no liquorice-like after­taste. Its taste pro­file is almost iden­ti­cal to sug­ar. It makes it ide­al for replac­ing the sweet­ness of the sug­ar. But the pro­por­tion of Reb M in ste­via leaves is very small (< 0.1%), which makes Reb M more expen­sive than Reb A.

Steviol glycosides replace sugar

Steviol gly­co­sides do not sup­ply ener­gy (0 kcal) and do not raise blood sug­ar (GI 0). This makes them an excel­lent sub­sti­tute for sug­ar, glu­cose syrup, malti­tol and oth­er ener­giz­ing sweet­en­ers.

In addi­tion, ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides are found in nature, and are extract­ed from ste­via in much the same way that sug­ar is extract­ed from sug­ar beets. This means that many con­sumers per­ceive them as a bet­ter alter­na­tive to aspar­tame, ace­sul­fame K, sucralose and oth­er arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers.

Of course, there are chal­lenges in replac­ing bulk sweet­en­ers, such as sug­ar, with ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides. If we are going to replace 1 kilo­gram of sug­ar with Reb A or Reb M, we only need about 3 grams of them. What should we replace the oth­er 997 grams with, to main­tain the same tex­ture and mouth­feel? And how should we han­dle the taste and after­taste of the less expen­sive Reb A?

We can help you who want to replace sug­ar with ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides in two ways.

Sweetened fibre

First and fore­most we offer sweet­ened fibres. It is dietary fibre to which sweet­en­ers are attached so that they can be stored, han­dled and used as sug­ar. One kilo­gram of sweet­ened fibre replaces one kilo­gram of sug­ar in your recipe, with­out the need to make any changes to your man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

Which dietary fibres we use depend on the intend­ed end-prod­uct; dif­fer­ent fibres have dif­fer­ent prop­er­ties. As sweet­en­er we always use Reb A or Reb M. Again, which one depends on what appli­ca­tion the sweet­ened fibres are intend­ed to be used for. Finally, addi­tion­al ingre­di­ents can be includ­ed (for exam­ple malti­tol) to give the sweet­ened fibre the right taste and mouth­feel in the intend­ed appli­ca­tion.

We mar­ket our sweet­ened fibres under the brand EUREBA®.

Reb A and Reb M

For those who already have a recipe adapt­ed for ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, or pre­fer to devel­op one from scratch, we offer Reb A and Reb M as pow­ders and gran­ules and in vary­ing degrees of puri­ty.

We con­trol the entire chain from cul­ti­va­tion of ste­via in China to the sup­ply of ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides to our cus­tomers. It enables us to sup­ply Reb A and Reb M with high qual­i­ty and favourable price.

We mar­ket Reb A and Reb M under the brand NAVIA®.

Read more

Read more about ste­via and ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides in our online mag­a­zine. Start with these arti­cles:

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