health benefits and industrial applications of Stevia

Trends in Food Science & Technology:health benefits and industrial applications of Stevia

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni), a perennial shrub of the Compositae family, is cultivated in many regions across the world. It is famous for its sweetness, which is due to the presence of steviol glycosides, having 100–300 times the sweetness of sucrose. It has been used as a sweetener and a sugar substitute in the food and drug industry. Due to its rich nutritional and phytochemical profile, stevia also provides beneficial effects against a plethora of health conditions. This review is to present a comprehensive and updated overview on the health benefits, phytochemical composition, and to highlight possible safety aspects of stevia. The potential industrial applications of stevia as food and food ingredient, as sucrose replacer, and as fertilizers and animal feed have also been reviewed.

1. Health benefits of stevia

Benefits Mechanism Supporting Literatures





     Effect on obesity



1. a decrease in the total caloric intake, and therefore a reduction in body weight.
2. cookies containing stevia leaf powder were found to reduce the hunger.

  1. Ashwell, M. (2015). Stevia, nature's zero-calorie sustainable sweetener: A new player in
the fight against obesity. Nutrition Today
2. Ahmad, U., & Ahmad, R. S. (2018). Anti-diabetic property of aqueous extract of Stevia
rebaudiana Bertoni leaves in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in albino rats. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.



Effect on diabetes mellitus


Tthe stevia leaves powder and its polyphenol extract enhances
the secretion of insulin from the pancreatic islet β-cells.

Shivanna, N., Naika, M., Khanum, F., & Kaul, V. K. (2013). Antioxidant, anti-diabetic and
renal protective properties of Stevia rebaudiana. Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications.



Effect on hypertension

The mechanism behind the hypotensive effect of these stevia products is through the blocking of the inflow of calcium ions to vascular smooth muscle cells Melis, M. S. (1992). Stevioside effect on renal function of normal and hypertensive rats.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 36(3), 213–217.



Effect on caries

stevia leaf showed protective actions against dental caries causing microorganisms (sucrose showed a statistically significant decrease in the pH value when compared to the stevia extract) Brambilla, E., Cagetti, M. G., Ionescu, A., Campus, G., & Lingström, P. (2014). An in vitro
and in vivo comparison of the effect of Stevia rebaudiana extracts on different cariesrelated
variables: a randomized controlled trial pilot study. Caries Research,

2. Industrial applications of stevia

There is a growing interest in the food industry to replace sucrose in foods, beverages and other consumables due to its public health concern. However, it is a difficult task to reduce sucrose from foods because it has a unique profile of sweetness that is difficult to replace, and it is crucial for texture, structure, flavor and preservation of food products. Therefore, food manufacturers face a great challenge to reduce sucrose in food products without influencing sensory perception.

2.1 Use as sucrose replacer in bakery products

Sucrose is a major ingredient in bakery products, but researchers have explored replacing it with stevia. In muffins, replacing 50% of sucrose with stevia didn't affect texture or glycemic index, but replacing 100% resulted in a firmer texture and reduced acceptability. Stevia's aftertaste is an issue. Using 50% stevia with cocoa and vanilla in muffins preserved quality. Oatmeal cookies with 25% and 50% sucrose replaced by stevia were well-received in sensory tests. These studies suggest that a partial replacement of sucrose with stevia, combined with flavorings, can maintain the quality of baked goods, while complete replacement may affect texture and taste.

2.2 Use as sucrose replacer in dairy products

Stevia can replace sucrose in milk and milk products. Studies show that sweetening with stevia decreases sucrose content while maintaining consumer acceptability in chocolate milk, strawberry yogurt, and kulfi. Sweetened dairy products prepared with stevia as a sucrose replacer also have acceptable sensory characteristics when measured by sensory evaluation test. Using a combination of stevia and sucralose or 50% stevia and 50% sucrose also results in high sensory acceptability.

2.3 Use as sucrose replacer in beverages

Stevia has shown potential as a substitute for sucrose in various beverages. Studies have demonstrated that stevia can replace sucrose in fruit drinks, such as apple-cherry and peach juice, without affecting sensory experiences or post-ingestive sensations. In some cases, combining stevia with sucrose resulted in reduced calorie content without compromising sensory aspects. However, passion fruit juice sweetened with stevia had issues with bitter aftertaste and lower acceptance. Different strategies, like adding lime flavor, have been used to mask the aftertaste of stevia. Additionally, in the production of sugar-free mango nectar, stevia combined with inulin produced desirable results without affecting taste and physical properties.

Stevia is a sweet and nutrient-rich plant that has been commercially cultivated in many countries. It has been used in food, beverages, and medicine, and still its benefits and use remains controversial due to conflicting studies. Besides its use in food and drug industry, studies have shown promising health benefits of stevia against diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, dental caries, oxidative stress and as antimicrobial.

Jamil Ahmada, Imran Khana, Renald Blundellb, Joseph Azzopardib, Mohamad Fawzi Mahomoodallyc. Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni.: an updated review of its health benefits, industrial applications and safety, Trends in Food Science & Technology:health benefits and industrial applications of Stevia

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