CHAPTER 1

 

 

INTRODUCTION

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1.1  
Background
of the Study.

 

Stevia
plants, is a genus from the Asteraceae family, whereby it is a plant that is
mostly related to the sunflower family. Specifically, Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni) is a species of plant that produces natural
sweeteners that are natively growing in Paraguay by the Guarani Indians (Ahmed
et al., 2011). It was widely used by the natives to sweeten foods or medicinal
purposes for centuries (Mishra et al., 2010). S. rebaudiana has many names, the native Guarani Indians used to
call it as “ka’a he’e” (sweet herb), as for the common names are ‘candy leaf’
sweet leaf’ or ‘sugarleaf’.

 

Morphology
of S. rebaudiana is that the leaves
are green and grows in pairs, the flowers produced are normally white in color.
The shoots tend to be softer at the beginning but becomes harder as time passes. S. rebaudiana produces roots that are
superficial and the seeds are small with black and brown color and it eventually
turns black as it matures. Usually the seeds are not viable and it is
pollinated through insects or hermaphrodite in nature.

 

Stevia rebaudiana,
is said to have phytochemical compounds that allows the control of certain
health issues. Native Guarani Indians believed that stevia allowed them to have
much softer skin, healthier digestive system, control the blood sugar levels,
and also certain healing purposes. These days, people believe that stevia helps
maintain sugar levels in blood as well as control blood pressure and lower
cholesterol levels. Researches have proven that stevia does not have calories
and is recommended to be used by diabetic patients. The properties in the leaf
is said to be approximately 150-300 times sweeter than conventional sugar.

 

Stevia
rebaudiana was indigenous to the northern part of Americas and eventually due
to the sweetening property of the plant it has been widely cultivated. It arrived
in the Asia region since 1984 and since then have been cultivated at Korea,
Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia as well as Malaysia. It could be also found in
Colombia, Uruguay and Israel to say the least. Stevia plant enjoys humid and
moist climate. The best areas to cultivate stevia is around the equator
regions.

 

The
whole plant of stevia does not produce the sweet property. Since the common
name is ‘sweet leaf’ hence, the sweetening property arises from the leaf. The
desired component in the leaf is called ‘Stevioside’ or ‘Steviol glycosides’.
Rebaudioside C, dulcoside, and rebaudioside A is present in the leaves of wildly
grown S. rebaudiana.

 

 

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