Also known as stevioside, rebaudioside, rebiana, reb A; sold under trade names such as PureVia®, Truvia®
Stevia is a plant, Stevia rebaudiana, native to Paraguay. The plant has been used as a sweetener for centuries by the Guaraní people of this region. The plant contains a number of diterpene glycosides that taste sweet; the main ones are stevioside and rebaudioside A.
The leaves of stevia can be used directly for sweetening, but the taste quality is not as good as the purified glycosides.
Stevioside is about 200 times as sweet as sucrose, with significant bitter taste and licorice-like taste at higher concentrations. Its onset is slower than sucrose, and its sweetness lingers.
Rebaudioside A is about 300 times as sweet as sucrose, with less bitter and licorice off-tastes than stevioside.
Stevioside and rebaudioside A are non-caloric.
Stevioside and rebaudioside A are quite stable to heat and pH, except in acid at pH less than 2.
The stevia plant has been used as a sweetener for centuries in parts of South America, and has been used in Japan since 1970. Rebaudioside A and several other stevia products currently have GRAS status in the United States. JECFA has established an ADI for steviol glycosides of 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day, based on steviol content. The EFSA also established an ADI of 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day, but expressed concern that the ADI would likely be exceeded by some consumers at proposed use levels.
Rebaudioside C, which is only 30 times as sweet as sucrose, has been patented as a sweetness enhancer.