Did you know that stevia has been used as a natural sweetener for centuries by the Guarani people of South America? They called it "ka'a he'e", which means 'sweet herb', and used it to sweeten their tea and as a remedy for everything from stomach issues to contraception. That's right, Stevia wasn't just used for its sweet taste, but also for its powerful medicinal properties.
Fast forward to the early 1900s, when a Swiss botanist named Moises Santiago Bertoni discovered the Stevia plant while on a plant-hunting expedition in Paraguay. He saw the Guarani people using the leaves to sweeten their tea and decided to investigate further. He brought samples back to Europe and gave it a name after his buddy, an Italian botanist named Rebaudi. How sweet is that?
In the 1970s, Stevia became popular in Japan as a natural sweetener after the Japanese government restricted the use of artificial sweeteners and did you know that Japanese scientists studied stevia's sweetening properties and found it to be a safe and effective alternative to sugar? So sweet and so safe!
In 2008, the FDA approved stevia extracts as 'Generally Recognised as Safe' (GRAS) for use as a food additive. Again that was a sweet victory!
Stevia's popularity as a natural sweetener continues to grow, and it's now widely available in many countries around the world. From soft drinks to desserts to chewing gum, Stevia is everywhere, and for a good reason. It's a natural, safe, and healthy sweetener that also has potential health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
So there you have it, a sweet and fun-filled journey through the history of stevia, with some little-known facts thrown in for good measure.
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