Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is indigenous to Paraguay. It is a member of the Asteraceae/Compositae family. The plant is a semishrub with purplish-white flowers. The leaves can be used medicinally. Stevia leaf contains glycoside stevioside, which has no calories and is sweeter than sucrose solutions. The two active constituents of stevia are stevioside and steviol. Stevia is often used as a non-caloric sweetner and flavor enhancer.
Stevia also has shown the ability to decrease blood pressure and acta as a calcium channel blocker. Preliminary research suggests it may stimulate insulin secretion through the action of beta cells. It may also influence the absorption and transportation of glucose. It has been used for diuretic and cardiotonic activities, for heartburn, diabetes, lowering uric acid leveles, and hypertension.
Food Sources Orally, stevioside, a constituent of stevia, can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects such as abdominal fullness and nausea.
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Cautions Orally, stevioside, a constituent of stevia, can cause gastrointestinal adverse effects such as abdominal fullness and nausea.