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Stevia rebaudiana (Bertoni), a perennial shrub, is the sweetest plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. Stevia leaves are an excellent source of diterpene glycosides stevioside, rebaudioside A-F, dulcoside, and steviolbioside, which are responsible for sweetness and have been utilized commercially for sugar substitution in foods, beverages, and medicines. To the best of our knowledge, a large number of studies have been carried out on composition, health implications, and safety of steviol glycosides. However, commercial production of stevia-incorporated food products needs further research in order to meet the huge global demand. Stevia-incorporated products possess better sweetening potency and maximum consumer acceptability, when compared with other sugar substitutes. Hence, the current research attempts to review the health promoting effects of stevia with special emphasis on its application in the food system. The paper majorly features 1) the anti-hyperglycemic, anti-hypertensive, anti-caries, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer benefits of stevia, 2) value-added stevia-incorporated products, e.g. bakery, dairy, and beverages, 3) the effect of incorporation of stevia on physicochemical, rheological, and nutritional food properties, 4) the current status and regulatory perspective of utilizing stevia at national and international level. Due to legislative actions and growing consumer awareness, public interest in natural sweeteners has significantly increased. Since the use of artificial sweetener has recently been questioned, the data the present article provides will be useful for consumers and manufacturers that seek an alternative.
Stevia rebaudiana; sugar substitutes
, health benefits
, value addition
, product characteristics
, consumer acceptability
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