Stevia rebaudiana: Its agricultural, biological, and chemical properties
Stevia rebaudiana is a member of the Compositae, native to Paraguay. It produces a number of high-potency low-calorie sweeteners in its leaf tissue. The sweeteners are diterpene glycosides and range between 30 and 320 times sweeter than sugar. Increasing consumer interest in natural food ingredients means that products like stevia sweeteners will be subject to increasing demand. Such demand will need to be supported by a modern mechanised production system. The purpose of this review is to summarize the existing agricultural, chemical and biochemical literature to provide a baseline for new research.