Herbs are very helpful to people, health-wise. They have curative elements the reason why many companies have ventured into producing supplements that use these plants. In addition, they help improve the flavor of the dishes we prepare.
In the Asian region, numerous herbs grow in abundance in many countries. One that’s most popular in Thailand is the stevia, a member of the sunflower family but is not grown locally.
Stevia is famous for its sweet leaves. The herb’s sweetness comes from the compounds stevioside and rebaudioside. It is used as a sweetener or a substitute for sugar. It is also used in weight loss programs such as those that target to reduce intake of carbohydrates. By consuming this sweet leaf ingredient, people will be able to lessen their intake of sweets and fatty food.
In terms of illnesses, the plant has been an important part of treating diabetes, candidiasis, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure and skin abrasions.
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health bans the use of this herb as a food ingredient. However, research on this plant continues led by Chiang Mai University. The institution’s research and development center aims to provide answers to the Thai government and be able to eventually import it in a legal manner.
In Japan, stevia is used as a common ingredient in sweeteners while in other countries such as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong, it is used as a food additive. In Canada, it is primarily used as a dietary supplement.
The South American countries of Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela are where this herb grows abundantly. The Guarani indigenous people there used the plant for more than 1,500 years to sweeten medicinal drinks.
Photo courtesy of Meatless Mamma