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