Healthy sweetness makes progress amidst loose regulations and more empowered consumers

We live in changing times in which obesity persists but the knowledge of science and our tools to counteract it are also changing. We are gaining more and more clarity on habits that, when combined with diets, achieve concrete nutritional goals.
Despite years of new labeling rules, obesity continues to be a serious problem in Latin America. In Chile, 25.4% of children are obese, while in Mexico, 70% of the population is overweight and almost a third is obese. The WHO has warned that this problem not only affects individual health, but also has a significant economic impact.
In Chile, the purchase of products with warning labels has generated a change in demand in some categories. The per capita purchase per day of calories, sodium, sugars, saturated fats of "HIGH EN" products was reduced by 23.8%, 36.7%, 26.7% and 15.7%, respectively. This constitutes an important impact on the type of products consumers choose, but does not seem to have a high impact on health as a consequence of these decisions. Obesity in Chile remains among the highest in the OECD. In 2020, under COVID, childhood obesity rose to 25.4% from 23.5% according to JUNAEB, with the law in full force and maturity. Considering that the Front End Labeling Law had been active for more than 4 years at that date, it is a discouraging result on the outcome of such an isolated measure.
A little later than Chile, Peru (2019), Mexico (2020), Uruguay (2020) and Argentina (2021) implemented similar regulations. Within these cases, Mexico and Argentina incorporated the warning legend on the use of sweeteners. It is important to mention that this legend integrates all sweeteners into an indistinct category. To enter this category, a characteristic defined as follows must be met: "substances other than monosaccharides and disaccharides, which impart a sweet taste to products" NOM 51 Secretaría de Salud Mexico.
The law does not consider the chemical structure of the different sweetener molecules, their caloric contribution, the body's ability to metabolize them, ferment them or literature that associates them with specific health risks, even though they are all compounds that have been approved by strict processes that have carried out in-depth meta-study analyses that address the health risk of these compounds for all age groups. Moreover, despite the fact that there are no studies, for example, showing any negative effect of Stevia on children's health, it has been included in the warning legend.
In a similar vein, the WHO has issued a report in 2023 in which it advises against the use of non-caloric sweeteners, including Stevia for weight control or weight reduction. It indicates that they may be related to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality in adults. To date, there is no reference in the literature that associates the consumption of Stevia to any cardiovascular disease. It is possible that this scientific confusion with regulatory consequences, together with the absence of a more holistic view of the importance of associating habits such as exercise to diet, are the main causes of the failure of these measures in the control of obesity and diabetes.
Experts agree that the solution is not limited to labels. Changes in eating habits and greater scientific backing for regulations are needed.
But the power of consumers to take change into their own hands is growing. There is growing awareness of the power of respecting the Circadian rhythm in eating and sleeping habits, and awareness of how these influence chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. We are also becoming more aware of the impact of moderate exercise and its frequency, and its impact on the reduction of heart disease and general wellbeing.
In the case of the United States, "traditional diets" are being questioned and alternatives are being sought, such as the "Dietary Guidelines", which have succeeded in changing the diet of 30 million children. These diets, which gained popularity between 2022 and 2023, have not continued to grow, as they are considered unpalatable or appear to have a poor taste profile by consumers. This has generated a rebound and consumers are now looking for less processed diets again, even if they have a slightly higher sugar or carbohydrate content.
Likewise, as we mentioned, diets that involve a change in consumer habits are gaining ground, such as intermittent fasting, promoted by many opinion leaders in health and nutrition. This initiative involves going 16 hours of the day without consuming caloric foods. This initiative is of special interest, as it is a scientifically supported strategy that is gaining ground and involves a powerful edge, which is the change of consumer habits. According to the IFIC (International Food Information Council), approximately 10% of Americans between 18 and 80 years of age use intermittent fasting as a technique to improve their health.
In the same direction, the diet of the consumer profile that is more informed and tends to a healthy and sporty life, incorporates in their daily consumption products high in protein, a macronutrient deficient in most adults. This includes the consumption of beverages with 25 to 30 g of protein per serving to achieve the consumption of at least 1 g of protein per kg of body weight, which is usually coupled with a sweetness that allows a product of this type to be more palatable. A challenge of this type requires that the use of sweetener in the product must be consistent and tend toward the natural. Similar challenges are found in many of the functional beverages that are beginning to flood the market today, which include challenges associated with taste when using vitamins, minerals or any of the functional compounds that promote health or "bio hacking".
On market trends
Considering these trends, which include sugar reduction and utilizing the occasion of beverage consumption to incorporate some functional health benefit, the steady growth of Stevia and Mogrosides and a reduction of artificial sweeteners in the food industry is understandable. Stevia continues its 9% annual growth, while the use of sucralose, aspartame, cyclamate and acesulfame K is declining or stagnating.
It is not only the use of individual natural intense sweeteners that is growing, but also the formulations. Particularly when looking at the advancement of sugar substitution in confectionery and bakery products, there is an increase in the use of Erythritol in conjunction with Stevia or Monk Fruit as a bulk sweetener. This sweetener blend has no calories and no negative health effects, making it an ideal alternative for people with diabetes or seeking weight control. And the alternative of using Maltitol and Isomalt is stalled due to its metabolic by-products and potential laxative effect.
In the case of Allulose, another actively growing compound, it is mainly used in bakery products or in products that require high solubility. Its sugar-like taste and health-promoting properties make it an attractive option for the food industry. Tagatose also remains a niche product, both because of its high cost and because of its FDA qualification as a caloric sugar.
This trend towards natural and healthy sweeteners is good news for consumers looking for healthier options to sugar. However, we must make a call to action as we need to educate the population about the importance of a healthy diet; fund studies that investigate the effects of sweeteners on health; refine regulations that include sweeteners; and finally, we believe that fostering collaboration between governments, industry and science must be part of the joint solutions to the problem of obesity.

Proudly local: Why staying local from the first seed to the last mile of the stevia chain matters

At SWT, we believe in helping our communities to thrive. We produce our stevia in local markets throughout the Americas, and we always ensure that our supply chains draw from local businesses.

At a time when it is more important than ever to trust your supply chain, choosing a provider who is invested in your local community is essential.

We have been growing our stevia in North America for 15 years – first in Nayarit, Mexico in 2008 and then in our North Carolina fields in 2018, meaning the healthy sweetness you enjoy in every bite is the taste of a deep commitment to our continent.

While we recognise the important role that Asia plays in the production of stevia, SWT is committed to ensuring that we play our part in developing a local stevia industry, and building local expertise here in the Americas – ensuring that business can choose to receive a local supply unaffected by the winds of global trade.

“We have a strong commitment to be the leading stevia producer in North America. This requires a strong investment in breeding, crop development and farming technologic package,” said SWT CEO Javier Sainz.

“The lack of standardized practices in stevia crop development has probably been the stronger failure on developing strong relations with farmers, and SWT is responsibly addressing this.”

When we started our business more than 15 years ago, there was a lack of real development of stevia as a commercial crop. We understood that in order to maximise the ability of this amazing plant, we needed to develop a full technical package that would show the world the power of stevia. While this development is still a work in progress, we have made huge strides in our development, and we are proud of where stevia stands today.

We are, of course, not the first to plant stevia in this region – though many of our predecessors have not been as fortunate as us. These failures can be blamed on incomplete or inconsistent commitments from other stakeholders in American agriculture, and difficulties in ensuring a sustained market for produce.

SWT has identified many of these failures, which include:

• A lack of sufficient technical tools and agricultural practices to ensure healthy and standardized plants, including pest control and harvesting.
• Insufficient site specific Stevia varieties. While stevia is an incredibly adaptable plant, they need to be adapted to latitude, rain and temperature in order to maximise output and consistency
• Mechanization of work – finding the balance between machine efficiency and human care when tending to the crop.
• A long-term, sustained market for growers, where leaves can be purchased at a fair price, with a guarantee that products will be accepted by export markets.
• A lack of import guidance for products to and from China, restricting the ability of producers to do business with the market,

Fortunately, technological and economic advancements have helped us to overcome these hurdles, and create a vibrant, modern market. SWT now supports local growers from land preparation to harvesting, creating an active market for their produce, and helping to keep business local and thriving.

We have ensured that SWT is an active part of the local industry. Having witnessed the challenges of climate change, we are committed to ensuring that we minimize our emissions as much as possible – and that means we work directly in our local markets to fight global warming and create a more sustainable world.

This has led to us winning awards – including for our circular economy approach in Chile. Working with scientists from Clemson University in North and South Carolina, we have actively involved ourselves in the improvement of stevia varieties, and in creating breeding programmes in partnerships with other leading US universities. We have worked with Israeli partners and planted in 3 regions in Mexico – making us the longest established stevia grower in the country.

We use these local partnerships to work as a key player in the sugar reduction industry, working to formulate reduced-sugar variations of massively consumed products, such as flavored milk, yoghurts and sports drinks. Our laboratories in Chile, Mexico, Chicago and Los Angeles means that we can cover key markets throughout the Americas and remain local until the final mile.

We believe that by growing, processing, and selling locally, we can lower our carbon footprint and make a positive change in the communities that support us. Switching to stevia means a 70% reduction in carbon emissions – helping you to make sustainable choices in the fight against climate change.

Of course, it’s not just a local supply chain that helps SWT remain environmentally friendly – our 100% water-processed, alcohol-free extraction system, and our commitment to 0% GMOs means that every leaf represents our dedication to remaining conscious your health and our environment.

Stevia has an incredibly high yield per hectare, meaning that we use significantly less land, water, and resources than traditional free sugars and commercial sweeteners. On a continent that is looking at increasingly serious water shortages, learning to maximise returns is essential – and stevia rebaudiana offers almost 10 times as much sweetness per hectare as the next nearest major competitor, corn – all while using 90% less water than equivalent crops.

When we think about what it means to be local, we think of the assistance we can provide, and how we can help farmers to fulfil their potential. We think about how we can help to provide the means to extract and purify extracts locally. We think about how we can create a business that does not risk international tariffs that could affect farmers.

We also think of how we can build a local knowledgebase on how to grow, process and formulate stevia to create healthy sweetness and great food. Given that 50% of Americans do not use sugar substitutes because of their taste, there is an incredible opportunity for stevia to show that it can create great-tasting, healthier food that is grown and enjoyed entirely within the same region.

Why should we make Stevia our future?

By Javier Sainz
Stevia Federation of the Americas.

Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni, or Ka’a he’e, as it is traditionally known to the indigenous people of Paraguay, is an incredible, adaptable plant, capable of thriving in wildly varying environments across the globe. Stevia is now grown on the equator, in Canada and even as far afield as Northern China.

Not only is Stevia able to thrive at these wildly differing latitudes, but it is also able to adapt to fit the climate in which it grows. When Stevia is grown at tropical latitudes, it is a thick, bushy plant which can be harvested up to 6 times per season. When it grows further north, it is shrub-like and can grow up to 1.6 metres, harvesting only twice. The latitude also appears to dictate the levels of phenolic compounds, which have diverse prebiotic components, as well as various essential oils, unique to the region in which it is grown.

Beyond simply appearing different, it also synthesises different compounds to create a powerful form of natural sweetness – a phenomenon that is still being understood. A single stevia plant can produce up to 23% of its dry weigh in steviol glycosides, and as nothing more than secondary metabolites. Combined with its versatility, stevia is an ideal crop in traditional sugar-producing regions, the increased sugar currency means that a single hectare of stevia is equal to 20 hectares of cane sugar.

Plants as naturally potent as stevia are uncommon in nature – the production of secondary metabolites that are not related to the structural function of the plant in particular. Despite the incredible abilities of stevia – and despite a numerous studies and reviews, the exact reason why the stevia plant is so powerful remains somewhat of a mystery (Ceunen and Geuns, 2013).

Out of a total of 20,000 edible plants, only 6,000 have historically been used as food. In the modern era, fewer than 200 now make a major contribution to food production, and of those 200, just nine account for two thirds of food production (Croptrust). Biodiversity is essential to life on earth, promoting additional flora, fauna and microbiota that form part of a sustainable world (Martín-Lopez).

Biodiversity is important in commercial food production for several reasons. A diverse range of plant and animal species can help to ensure food security by providing a variety of options for farmers to grow and raise. This can be especially important in areas where certain crops or livestock may be more susceptible to disease or changes in weather patterns. Biodiversity can also help to improve the overall productivity and sustainability of food production systems. Cultivating a diverse range of plants in a crop rotation can improve soil health and fertility, reduce pest and disease pressure, and increase overall yields.

There is also a role to play in protecting the environment. Incorporating a diversity of plants and animals in agricultural systems can help to promote pollination, control pests, and protect soil and water resources. In essence, expanding our palates beyond what has become the norm offers a chance to improve not only our own health (and combat the obesity epidemic) but also to help repopulate animal species and to lessen the impact of climate change.

But biodiversity is often determined by economic importance, meaning that only profitable crops are permitted to be cultivated. One example of this is quinoa (Chenopodium Wild). A key nutritious pseudo-cereal traditionally grown by the Incas in the Andean region, it was adapted from the high mountain altitudes in Peru and Bolivia into the sea level valleys in Chile, before being totally abandoned for centuries because of the takeover by other crops like corn, wheat, and soy. Before recent interest resumed, average yields of 350 kg/ha were obtained in the Andes, while test plots have achieved yields above 9000 kg/ ha. As an ingredient, quinoa was almost forgotten until it was rescued because of its rich amino-acid profile and other bioactive compounds.

Recently, the possibility of producing the sweetness molecules through GMO microorganisms using sugar and corn derivatives as a carbon source, has become a commercial reality. In such a model, the stevia crop could be totally substituted. Avoiding the stevia crop on behalf of sourcing steviol glycosides from traditional crops seems to us a major decision that is likely to shape the future of our industry. This ultimately makes it necessary to choose whether we believe that biodiversity is important, or whether the convenience of continuing to grow just commercially viable staple crops such as wheat, soya and sugar is worth the long-term damage, if it yields the same traditional comforts to consumers and producers.

There is intrinsic value in the crop development of stevia, rather than solely in the attributes of it sweetness molecules. The stevia plant is potentially the most efficient natural producer of sweetness on Earth. Its sweetness is non-caloric, has been proven to have no negative effects on human microbiota and is digested to become non-sweet molecules (steviol). It has proven positive cell mechanisms, pancreatic beta-cell metabolism, and synergistic effects in high glycemic blood levels (Philliphaert et al, 2017), as well as being capable of replacing significant amounts of sugar in almost every formulation of traditionally high-sugar products.

The crop itself is highly adaptable. It reaches maturity within one season and can be grown in a range of latitudes. This is a significant property when considering crop adaptability, improvement, climate change and even crop rotation. As a result of its intense sweetness, the transport of stevia extract is significantly more efficient than other low intensity sweeteners. The stevia crop is currently grown actively in Africa, Asia, America and in parts of Europe and Oceania.

As shown by the Jarma group of Colombia, the metabolism of the stevia plant is optimized under enriched CO2 environments, a fact which has encouraging adaptive attributes for our changing environment - and even potential usage to counteract rising levels of CO2 in our environment (Pompelli et al, 2022).

Given increasing water shortages across the world, growing crops to create food that requires less irrigation and consumes more CO2 has obvious benefit. Likewise, decreasing the acreage of land required for commercial crop cultivation (and by extension the highly expensive and polluting systems to protect and harvest them) a more sustainable footprint can be created.

From nutritional point of view, when stevia is digested by our bodies, it does not trigger the same insulin responses as sugar, and it is not high in calories, despite the sweet flavour. Science is now beginning to understand the potential of this once-overlooked leaf, and to harness its power – presenting a tantalising glimpse of what our future could look like if we adopt stevia as an alternative crop to reduce partially our sugar dependence.

As well as providing a healthier and more sustainable form of sweetness, stevia leaves and stems include steviol glycosides, phenolic compounds such as chlorogenic acid, essential oils, inulin and several di- and tri-terpene compounds, which benefits human, environmental, crop and animal health. These compounds are still being actively discovered and characterized (Purkayashta et al, 2017), and to fail to expand on these exciting discoveries feels like a potential mistake.

Coming back to the recent technologies expanding the potential of the stevia industry. It is not a discussion of wheter or not biotechnology is useful or not for the stevia industry, but which should be its role in the whole supply chain. Biotechnology can be used for the improvement of the stevia plant, as well as for the improvement of the sweetness quality of the molecules produced by the plant. Biotechnology can be used as well to bypass the function of the plant, when it comes to produce sweetness. Our question is, should biotechnology be used to bypass and discard the stevia crop as the ultimate source of these sweet molecules? Should we discard the different services of the plant beyond its sweet molecules?

We do not feel that biotechnology is an enemy of the agricultural industry – but quite the contrary. A simple but dramatic example is the impact of genetic transformation in the banana or plantain, controlling the spread of Black Sigatoka disease (Soares et al, 2021). In this case, gene modifications and gene editing replaced up to 70 doses of the various pesticides applied systematically to banana crops every year, with deleterious environmental impact (Fu et al, 2019).

Biotechnology could be used to further enhance stevia too, as it has already been used to create drought resistance crops. Under the sever climate change we are experiencing, the alteration of Drought Escape (DE) pathways, osmo-protectant synthesis and flowering modulation could make the difference in the survival of our species - especially in more extreme climates (Martignano et al, 2020).

When it comes to adjusting the delicious properties of the sweetness molecules, biotechnology has proved a powerful tool for producing specific enzymes which facilitate a precise fine tuning of the quality of the sweetness produced by this natural powerhouse.

Therefore, while it is technically possible to produce the sweet molecules native to the stevia plant through the development of specific GMO microorganisms’ strains, the downside of replacing the stevia plant as a source of this natural sweetness seems to us to be discarding a massive tool, which encourages biodiversity while producing sustainable and efficient natural sweetness through plants.

The food production industry has a duty to ensure that it leads the fight in public health, and that it remains sustainable at time when both have never been more important to humanity. We should, then, ask ourselves: Why do we not adopt the stevia plant as a main character of our industry and put biotechnology at its service? Why do we not make the decision to embrace this natural wonder of the world?

We wish you a fantastic 2023!


-Ceunen S, Geuns JM. Steviol glycosides: chemical diversity, metabolism, and function. J Nat Prod. 2013 Jun 28;76(6):1201-28. doi: 10.1021/np400203b. Epub 2013 May 28. PMID: 23713723.

-Fu, X., Wong, A.W., Guzman, M., Gleason, M.L. 2019. Battling Black Sigatoka of Banana in Costa Rica. The Plant Health Instructor. DOI:10.1094/PHI-I-2019-0628-01

-Humphrey TV, Richman AS, Menassa R, Brandle JE. Spatial organisation of four enzymes from Stevia rebaudiana that are involved in steviol glycoside synthesis. Plant Mol Biol. 2006 May;61(1-2):47-62. doi: 10.1007/s11103-005-5966-9. PMID:

-Philippaert, K. et al. Steviol glycosides enhance pancreatic beta-cell function and taste sensation by potentiation of TRPM5 channel activity.Nat. Commun. 8, 14733 doi: 10.1038/ncomms14733 (2017)

-Pompelli, M.F.; Espitia-Romero, C.A.; de Diós Jaraba-Navas, J.; Rodriguez-Paez, L.A.; Jarma-Orozco, A. Stevia rebaudiana under a CO2 Enrichment Atmosphere: Can CO2 Enrichment Overcome Stomatic, Mesophilic and Biochemical Barriers That Limit
Photosynthesis? Sustainability 2022, 14, 14269. su142114269

-Purkayashta S, Markosyan A, Chow S, Prakash I, Clos J, Pen I, Kagan M, Sukits S, Somayajula K (2017) . WO2018090020A9, Stevia-derived molecules, methods of obtaining such molecules, and uses of the same.

-Rai, A.; Han, S.-S. Critical Review on Key Approaches to Enhance Synthesis and Production of Steviol Glycosides: A Blueprint for Zero-Calorie Sweetener. Appl. Sci. 2022, 12, 8640. 10.3390/app12178640

-Soares JMS, Rocha AJ, Nascimento FS, Santos AS, Miller RNG, Ferreira CF, Haddad F, Amorim VBO, Amorim EP. Genetic Improvement for Resistance to Black Sigatoka in Bananas: A Systematic Review. Front Plant Sci. 2021 Apr 21;12:657916. doi:
10.3389/fpls.2021.657916. PMID: 33968113; PMCID: PMC8099173.

How we work: Turning ideas into a delicious reality

Helping to lead the sugar replacement healthy revolution is sometimes more complex than it sounds. Our 4-stage production cycle allows us to create advanced products that offer your consumers the same tastes and textures that have made yourbusiness a success, while ensuring that your business finds an expert partner that is committed to your success.

There is nothing more important than working with people who understand the challenges that you face, and how best to overcome them. Sharing a passion for outstanding food and drink, with an unwavering commitment to creating a healthier future, SWT is a natural choice for any business looking to play a leading role in the global health and nutrition revolution.


  1. From your ideas to reality

The first stage of our development process comes directly from you. Using the product brief that you provide us; we identify how to best meet your needs and provide great-tasting products with all the healthy sweetness you would expect. With cutting edge, sustainable technology, our development team is able to identify ways to ensure that the goods you produce will remain almost identical, but with significant reduction of sugars and fats. With our years of industry-leading expertise, you can be assured that working with SWT means working with a natural partner who shares your same desire for innovation and quality at every turn.


When our experts develop the formulas for your new or improved product lines, we always ensure that your intellectual property is respected and protected – we will never make information about our cooperation public, without your specific authorisation.


  1. Development and feedback

With our technical expertise, SWT can help you to reformulate both existing products and new market entries. From pastries, to drinks, to confectionary and even when modulating sweetness in savoury foods, our development teams have led the way in reducing fats and sugars, creating products that remain healthy but keep the sweetness that consumers continue to demand. As regulators in many markets make moves to mitigate unhealthy products on supermarket shelves, it is more important than ever to ensure that your products are placed to take advantage of sugar and sweetener taxes affecting competitors, as well as to fill emerging gaps in the market.


Thanks to our precise and highly specialised set of sweetening protocols, we can match any flavour profile that our partners require, using specially formulated mixes of natural sweeteners to achieve the exact flavours, all whilst ensuring a reduction in sugars. These have been created in tandem with leading research facilities in universities in Europe and South America – giving you access to literally a whole world of expertise.


  1. Marketing and collaboration

As soon as you are satisfied with the final prototypes, SWT can help you to move the next stage. Thanks to our outstanding reputation, we have forged excellent networks across global markets – including in the most challenging and creative environments. We can help tailor your product to any marketplace and any client base. We can create flavour profiles that match the needs of different regions and can create delicious sweetness solutions for even the most specialised markets and consumers.


  1. Co-packing and Launching, Feedback and Adjustment

As part of our final development step, SWT can support you in finding co-packers and assist in helping you to progress with your product launch - ensuring everything runs smoothly, and that your product is finished to your exacting standards. Thanks to our extensive experience in global product launches, we can predict, manage, and mitigate supply chain and development issues before they occur, allowing you to feel supported by a partner that is as invested in your success as you are.

If at any point you need to communicate directly with SWT, our expert support team is always ready to assist you in any task that you require.

As a responsible member of a reliable supply chain, choosing SWT is choosing success right from the very step. With natural, healthy sweetness in every detail, there is no better partner to take your product to the next level.

previous wording was repetitive ‘ research facilities in university research’

Non-nutritive sweeteners and human glucose tolerance: is stevia an exception?

While generalised research suggests that non-nutritive sweetener may impair glycaemic responses, stevia specialists are finding that this hypothesis may be flawed when it comes to the effects of stevia rebaudiana.

Stevia is an exceptional weight-loss tool, with repeated studies suggesting that it provides a sustainable, healthy and low-glucose alternative to current processed diets. In academic studies however, it can sometimes be erroneously grouped with other non-nutritive sweeteners (NSS) such as aspartame or saccharine, which leads to researchers concluding that NSS in general do not provide a healthy alternative to traditional free sugars, and by extension, unfairly tarring stevia with the same brush.

The study Personalized microbiome-driven effects of non-nutritive sweeteners on human glucose tolerance, a recently published study in Cell Scientific, by Suez et al., examined various sweeteners and their effects on blood-glucose levels. The study did not regard stevia as a tool to combat both high levels of blood sugar, and the global obesity crisis (which are intrinsically linked through processed diets), despite a significant number of studies suggesting otherwise.

It can be suggested here that the aim of the study is to promote innovative solutions related to personalized nutrition, rather than practical ones, and by minimising the impact of stevia (alongside all the other major benefits in moving away from modern high-sugar diets) they are intentionally misleading readers to improve the perception of their product, while reducing perceptions of stevia.

It is possible that as the researchers appear to have approached this study with the aim of promoting their own personalised nutritional ventures, they have unintentionally biased the results of the work. The desire to define a top respondent (a participant who responded negatively to stevia) to demonstrate the effects of NSS may have been affected by their pre-exposure to microbiome heterogenicity.  While an interesting approach for personalized nutrition, the statistical significance of its results, essentially segregated, remains unclear.

So, if the Suez study does not really look at the benefits of stevia usage, what evidence is available to support the claim that stevia is a highly beneficial?

Let us instead consider the wealth of information that suggests stevia is a long-term solution to obesity and gut health. A 2019 joint study conducted by Liverpool Hope and Bern Universities has found that stevia does not result in a raise in postprandial glucose levels. The study goes on to suggest that these findings mean that stevia has a role to play in combatting global obesity levels thanks to the fact that unlike many other NSS, it acts as an appetite suppressant (Farhat, Berset & Moore, 2019) – meaning that the use of stevia in food production is likely to encourage lower overall levels of consumption – resulting in not only good health outcomes, but environmental ones too.

This is in line with findings in a separate 2020 study (reference), found that there was little difference between the blood-glucose levels in participants who consumed stevia, and those who did not eat at all – suggesting again that stevia was not directly responsible for the glucose tolerance issues suggested in Cell (Ajami et al., 2020). This particularly study, which took place in Iran, worked primarily with diabetics, demonstrating that for glucose-sensitive groups, such as diabetics, stevia results in a safe and effective form of glucose control.

 Equally, a 2021 study into the potential risks of stevia claimed that claimed that “Groups of diabetic mice that consumed the antioxidant fraction of Stevia supplements showed better glucose tolerance than the control group” and that “Stevia leaf extract was found to be able to inhibit α-amylase and α-glucosidase. This can potentially slow down carbohydrate metabolism and reduce the risk of hyperglycemia in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes (Ruiz-Ruiz et al., 2015).” (Peteliuk et al., 2021)

Critically (and in direct contrast to Suez), the study also noted that “some studies on humans found no effects of supplements of Stevia aqueous extract on glucose, insulin, and glycosylated hemoglobin levels, but also no side effects (Barriocanal et al., 2008; Ajami et al., 2020).” – suggesting that the rise in blood-glucose levels in Suez are overstated, potentially as a result of the study serving as a platform for the DayTwo startup.

Once again, the environmental benefits of stevia are also notably absent from the original Suez study. Stevia uses less water, significantly less land and can be refined through a 100% water-based system, meaning that a switch to stevia not only benefits the consumer, but also the planet as a whole – something not seen in other sweeteners.

It seems that the wealth of stevia-based research that exists largely agrees that stevia does not lead to significant glycaemic alteration (especially when compared to saccharine and sucralose, two of the most popular sugar alternatives) – and that studies which suggest that this is not the case are outliers. When it comes to healthy sweetness, there is little in the world that has as much potential to benefit waistlines as stevia.




Ajami M, Seyfi M, Hosseini FAP, Naseri P, Velayati A, Mahmoudnia F, et al. Effects of Stevia on glycemic and lipid profile of type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2020;10:118–27.

Barriocanal LA, Palacios M, Benitez G, Benitez S, Jimenez JT, Jimenez N, et al. Apparent lack of pharmacological effect of steviol glycosides used as sweeteners in humans. A pilot study of repeated exposures in some normotensive and hypotensive individuals and in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008;51(1):37–41.

Farhat G, Berset V, Moore L. Effects of Stevia Extract on Postprandial Glucose Response, Satiety and Energy Intake: A Three-Arm Crossover Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Dec 12;11(12):3036. doi: 10.3390/nu11123036. PMID: 31842388; PMCID: PMC6950708.

Peteliuk V, Rybchuk L, Bayliak M, Storey KB, Lushchak O. Natural sweetener Stevia rebaudiana: Functionalities, health benefits and potential risks. EXCLI J. 2021 Sep 22;20:1412-1430. doi: 10.17179/excli2021-4211. PMID: 34803554; PMCID: PMC8600158.

Ruiz-Ruiz JC, Moguel-Ordoñez YB, Matus-Basto AJ, Segura-Campos MR. Antidiabetic and antioxidant activity of Stevia rebaudiana extracts (Var. Morita) and their incorporation into a potential functional bread. J Food Sci Technol. 2015;52:7894–903.



WHO recommendations on NNS: Are we overlooking a huge opportunity?

The United Nations has commissioned a report on non-nutritional sweeteners as a tool for public health control and a new frontier on the war against obesity and non-communicable disease. With science backing up sugar substitutes providing structure and sweetness, like inulin and stevia, are we overlooking a huge opportunity to make positive change?


The recent report World Health Organisation report is designed to help guide public policy makers in drafting legislation and promote public health objectives, especially when replacing traditional sugars with non-sugar sweetener alternatives (NSS) –identified as the greatest challenge facing health organisations in the near future.

The WHO report, a literature review based on much of the existing body of stevia research, was based on the evidence of 283 randomised trials, which demonstrated that the removal of sugar could lead to sustained weight loss, amongst other health benefits. A meta-analysis of 45 studies found that daily sugar intake was reduced by 38.4 gram on average, resulting in improved health outcomes.

Participants examined in these studies were drawn from a variety of nations – including countries with high obesity levels such as the United States, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Those who had higher levels of NSS consumption (and so less sugar consumption as a result), had “lower bodyweight and lower BMI as a result”. The positive effects of stevia on the reduction of dental cavities was also noted, with two studies demonstrating that the decreased consumption of sugars (replaced by stevia), led to better oral outcomes and fewer cavities overall.

The report did not recommend stevia as a promotional tool for public health measures, as a result of the WHO finding little confidence in much of the existing research discussed within. This is partially due to the volume and the diversity of the studies included (which

contained research on the effects of NSS on BMI, dental health, foetal development and growth in young adults). This mixed approach to analysis, coupled with some methodological questions surrounding the studies themselves – the report cites that “most of these trials provided NSS or free sugars-containing foods and beverages in addition to existing diets and therefore did not directly measure the effects of replacing free sugars with NSS.” – suggests that the scope of WHO research into stevia was seeking to establish the validity of NSS as full time alternative to sugar, and not to directly identify the health benefit of the plant.

As a result, it is difficult to say whether the WHO’s reluctance to recommend NSS as a key pillar of public health is due to a lack of confidence, or simply because it is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the existing problem. Stevia itself is not a new product, and has more than 15 years fully integrated and formulated as a central part of our understanding of modern healthy sweetener systems.

Based in a thorough review of available research, it is evident that the experience of sweetness can be totally re designed and turned into a healthy, low-sugar one – and this can be done by embracing stevia . As an example, there is evidence that compounds like inulin fiber, can have a beneficial effect on our digestive system, by stimulating the growth of healthy bacteria in the human intestine (1,2) , and consumption of stevia can provide significant benefits in terms of high pressure and blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. These findings are well documented, in reliable and prestigious medical journals – with research on the effects of the pancreatic beta cell function is enhanced characterized and published in Nature (3) .

The issue that we face is that the generalisation of NSS (such as that made by the WHO in their report) may waste the opportunity to redesign the experience of sweetness from a health point of view. This may stimulate black/white analysis of different compounds which benefit may come from the synergistic effect between them when replacing sugar.

On top of the direct health benefits offered by stevia,  we are aware that we are also on a planet that is in the grip of the climate crisis. The report did not examine the outstanding sustainability offered by stevia, and the need for widespread adoption of higher-yield, lower-acreage crops and environmentally friendly processing systems – an area in which stevia (and SWT in particular) is particularly notable.

These benefits are tangible - in terms of sweetness equivalence per crop surface, stevia figures are remarkable. In 2022, the total surface of planting of Sugar Beet, Sugar Cane and Corn in the US was 5 million Acres, producing a total of equivalent 15.7 MM tons of sugar. This is roughly the size of the state of New Jersey. This total of 5 MM acres has a yearly requirement of 23.298 MM Cubic Meters of water – almost 15% of Lake Tahoe. This surface could be replaced by 0.15 MM acres of stevia (considering stevia sweetness equivalence and crop yield), with a water consumption of just 4.4% of the water used by caloric sweeteners, resulting in an overall 91% water footprint reduction from field-to-table.  Examining the CO2 footprint sees a  reduction of  around 70% when comparing sugar cane and stevia at their equivalent sweetness powers and yields per hectare (4,5), making stevia an obvious candidate in the push for carbon neutral production.

While the expertise and methodology of the World Health Organisation is unimpeachable, and it is clear that the report on the inclusion of NSS as a public health strategy is well sourced and researched, existing reports and studies make it difficult to agree that the report on NSS represents an examination of the health benefits of stevia when compared to free sugars – and as such does a disservice to the genuine alternative to the unsustainable diet that is currently causing severe damage to global health. Couple this to the environemntal benefits of decreased pollution, water usage and carbon output, stevia seems the obvious candidate to push the NSS revolution forwards.



  • Meyer D, Stasse-Wolthuis M. The bifidogenic effect of inulin and oligofructose and its consequences for gut health. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009;63(11):1277-89.


  • Roberfroid M, Gibson GR, Hoyles L et al. Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits. Br J Nutr 2010;104(Suppl. 2):S1-S63.


  • Philippaert, K. et al. Steviol glycosides enhance pancreatic beta-cell function and taste sensation by potentiation of TRPM5 channel activity.Nat. Commun. 8, 14733 doi: 10.1038/ncomms14733 (2017).


  • British Sugar Company: http:/, Feb 2008.


  • Ashwell M. Stevia, Nature’s Zero- Calorie Ssustainable Sweetener: A New Player in the Fight Against Obesity. Nutrition Today. 2015; 50(3): 129-134. Doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000094.

Can we cite this? This would refute part of the issues raised by WHO

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Eating for mental health: How a great diet can help you to feel better physically and mentally

Making sure that the body receives a balanced diet does more than just help keep you physically healthy. Emerging research suggests that proper nutrition also plays a role in good mental health.

In a world of processed food, it can be very difficult to keep track of exactly what we are eating – especially when living increasingly hectic lives. Specialist diets have for years suggested that cutting out specific ingredients, while including others holds the key to unlocking better health for all of us. This is fundamentally true for our mental health as much as for our physical health. With the rise of ultra-processed food products, it can be extremely difficult to know exactly what we consume on a regular basis – which means we can often make poor nutritional choices that adversely affect our health, all while never understanding why.

We have always known that having too much sugar in our diets is a bad thing, but it is only relatively recently that the truth about how bad it really is has clearly emerged. Studies – dating back to 2004 – have demonstrated that too much refined sugar can lead to a heightened risk of depression and schizophrenia – and that ensuring that we maintain a low-sugar diet is essential to helping keep the brain (and the rest of our bodies) functioning in a healthy manner. A follow-up study to the original research in 2017 – this time by researchers at University College London, confirmed the findings, noting that an overconsumption of sugar also leads to depression.

Chronic mental illnesses such as the types caused by an overconsumption of sugar have also been proven to shorten our lifespans, and to increase mortality rates. This is true of even minor mental illness – so taking the time to make sure that we eat properly is more important than ever if we want to see our brains stay healthy as we age. In order to do this, we need to ensure that our brains manufacture sufficient levels of the protein BDNF, which it uses to repair and power itself.

BDNF – or brain-derived neurotrophic factors – is the name given to the proteins produced by our brains to help regenerate and power themselves. The lower the levels of recorded BDNFs, the lower the levels of brain health, so keeping levels high by avoiding potential inhibitors (such as products with high levels of processed sugars) holds the key to long-term mental health benefits.

Low BDNF levels have been linked to a litany of mental disorders – from serious disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, and epilepsy to anorexia and OCD, all of which are characterised by a lack of BDNF levels in the brain. Low BDNF has also been suggested to inhibit learning, meaning that school-age children also need to avoid an overconsumption of sugar in order to maximise their learning opportunities.

BDNF levels also drop markedly as we age – which is why cognitive decline is often observed in the elderly. Recent research now suggests that by reducing sugar (and swapping the sweetness for a healthier, natural source like stevia), brain performance can be maintained for longer as BDNF is conserved.

Beyond our mental health, evidence has emerged that an overconsumption of sugar can affect even our immune systems. Professor Robert Lustig, of the University of California, cites evidence that excessive levels of fructose – a common sweetener in processed foods – can increase insulin resistance. While the link between excess sugar and diabetes is by now well understood, the insulin resistance also correlates with wider issues regarding the functionality of leptin receptors – the system in our bodies directly related to making us feel satisfied after eating. This research, which was published in 2022, demonstrates that there is still a significant amount of damage caused by our overreliance on traditional sugar that we are yet to fully understand.

This suggests that by eating high-sugar foods, our bodies see a decreasing ability to recognise when we need to stop eating – causing continued intake of sugars, repeating the cycle, with increasingly serious effects each time, declining our ability to feel healthy in body or mind.

For those who are considering a switch to a more consciously healthy diet, cutting down on sugar should be the absolute priority. This change in fundamental food philosophy is being experienced not only by consumers looking to make better food choices, but also by manufacturers, who are looking to reduce their dependence on unsustainable refined sugar and move across to a more natural and healthy form of sweetness.

The unrivalled natural sweetness of stevia provides an opportunity to keep the same delicious flavours of all your guilty pleasures, while reformulating them to ensure that they are low or even zero-sugar products. This keeps BDNF levels in the brain high and helps to keep fat – another ingredient linked with BDNF reduction – lower than ever.

Given the evidence for the benefits of a low-sugar diet in children, adults and the elderly, there is clearly no better time to take control of what you eat, and choose a new kind of sweetness that reflects the healthier, more sustainable future that we are all searching for.










The development of the Stevia plant

Aside from being an incredible source of natural sweetness, Stevia rebaudiana has seen an emergence as a leader in the healthy revolution that is currently sweeping the food industry. As the world looks to fundamentally change how we make our food and alter our understanding of our diets, stevia has rapidly become the key to unlocking a healthier future. But how has SWT learned to maximise the very best of the plant, while refusing to compromise on quality? What is the secret to a sweetness that is so powerful, but without any of the negative side effects usually related to the sweetening of foods?

The health properties of stevia leaves go further than just tasting great. Steviol glycosides – the active elements of the leaves that give it the beneficial properties for which it is known – are powerful antioxidants, thanks to a rich profile of phenolic compounds found inside each and every stevia crop we cultivate.

A study at Leuven Catholic University by biologists Stijn Ceunen and Jan M. C. Geuns noted that “During the past few decades, the nutritional and pharmacological benefits of
these secondary metabolites have become increasingly apparent…For the past few decades, S. rebaudiana has been the subject of extensive phytochemical analysis, during which time a large number of molecular structures have been identified. Most studies were done on the isoprenoids and phenolic compounds, but many other constituents such as macro- and micro- nutrients, fatty acids, and vitamins have also been found in S. rebaudiana.”

It is these nutrients and vitamins – as well as positive fats – that have seen stevia become increasingly widely used by nutritionists looking to rebalance global diets and decrease waistlines.

The exhaustive study by Ceunen and Geuns comprehensively broke down the stevia plant in a manner that few researchers had managed before – despite the discovery of the plant by western biologists in the late 19th century. Scientific reports on steviol glycosides (and the seasonal variations that accompanied them) first emerged at the beginning of the 1970s – giving cultivators a unique insight into when the best time to harvest would be – it also allowed them to locate the best sources of these glycosides within the plant, analysing the content of leaves, roots, stems and branches to determine where the areas richest in glycosides could be found.

These glycosides are found most abundantly within the leaves – which is exactly why SWT has refined harvesting processes to focus on getting the maximum out of every single leaf . By waiting for the moment when the stevia plant is about to flower, and harvesting it, Ceunen and Geuns agree that SWT have found the moment when the plant is richest in steviol glycosides, and therefore at the most perfect moment for harvest.

In line with the findings in the study, SWT harvest their stevia plants several times a year (dependent on atmospheric conditions in our fields), as repeated harvesting of the same plant is able to increase the number of glycosides in each leaf, ensuring that our stevia is as naturally sweet as our consumers demand. Close to the tropics, the plants are harvested four times per year, as the plant grows fast as a result of high radiation and enter flowering frequently as a result of short days all year round – meaning that the plants reach their sweetest and most delicious once every 3 months.

As well as knowing when the best time to harvest a crop, it is essential to understand which variants of stevia rebaudiana yield the highest number of glycosides in order to create an outstanding extract – SWT grows plants that are rich in Rebaudioside A, but still containing all other glycosides. Stevia plants contain around 35-40 sweet molecules, from which Rebaudioside a and Stevioside are the more abundant. Rebaudisoide M - a very minor variant but one that is quite sweet - is specially selected for the ability to be intensely cultivated and to deliver outstanding sweetness in every leaf.

Beginning in 2017 with 10,000 varieties, SWT has carefully selected the 50 best strains of stevia to cultivate in our fields, prioritising the production of glycosides to give our extracts the best and most natural flavours, all without any added chemicals or enzymes in our processes.

While the antioxidant properties of stevia leaves are well known, it is often underestimated just how effective an oxidant they are. Steviol glycosides display an ROS scavenging ability of between 1.5 and 2.5mM, which can be further enhanced during the cultivating and processing portions. This helps to keep the body healthy by ensuring good oxygenation of the blood.

With the cutting edge 100% water-only processing used by SWT, no part of the leaf is wasted, and every ounce of goodness is extracted in order to form part of an eco-friendly solution to global nutrition. Thanks to the technical staff behind our incredible product, we are learning how to harness more of the power of the stevia leaf with every harvest, ensuring that the healthy sweetness revolution is stronger than ever.


Can Stevia reduce inflammation in COVID-19 cases?

A new study into the effects of steviol glycosides on COVID-19 has revealed that a regular dose of stevia may help to boost the immune systems of the medically vulnerable in case of contracting the virus

A study from the Laboratory of Functional Biology in Leuven, Belgium has found that a regular dose of stevia extracts (or dried leaves) may help to reduce many of the inflammatory risks associated with COVID-19 – especially amongst those in at-risk groups, such as the obese and those with heart disease.

Dr. Jan Geuns, a well-established stevia researcher with a long history of stevia-related research, has established a potential link between regular doses of steviol glycosides (an active ingredient found in stevia leaves and extracts), according to new research published in the Archives of Food Science and Nutrition Research.

High ROS scavenging – associated with increased blood oxygenation, which is critical for COVID-19 sufferers, especially those who may be overweight or have respiratory issues – was demonstrated to make a meaningful difference to the bodies of those struggling to fight COVID-19 infection. By oxygenating the blood more efficiently, a dose of stevia may help to relieve the pressure on organs that often leads to poor health outcomes in COVID-19 sufferers. Stevia leaves naturally contain a number of high ROS ingredients.

Critically, the presence of Selenium in stevia leaves and extracts plays a critical role in ensuring that the blood and vital organs remain well oxygenated, according to emerging research in Wuhan, the ground zero for the pandemic. By ensuring a good intake of selenium, which can be found in stevia, alongside a host of other beneficial nutrients, COVID-19 sufferers can reduce the likelihood of adverse consequences.

The study identifies an at-risk group – those with a BMI of above 30, and those with hypertension, cardiovascular disease and lung diseases. This group is statistically much more at risk of negative outcomes when suffering from COVID-19, as they have a natural deficiency in Vitamin C, GSH and enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants. Dr. Geuns hopes that treatment using steviol glycosides will help to alleviate this increased risk.

Other recent studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of steviol glyocides against Lyme disease. With researchers from the United States, China and the United Kingdom also suggesting that COVID-19 has made traditional influenza more virulent in nature, it will become increasingly necessary for medicine to find a way to contain respiratory illnesses in the near future.

High-purity stevia extracts may also prove to be as beneficial as whole leaves, as a purity of >95% has proved sufficient to yield the same benefits as unrefined leaves – meaning that products produced with quality stevia extracts may provide protection against COVID-19 as well.


SWT confectionary products help make healthy sweetness a delicious reality

In addition to an amazing range of healthy, low-sugar products, SWT Stevia has unveiled a fantastic new range of delicious, healthy chocolate products.

While chocolate ranks amongst one of the most popular sweet treats in the world, it’s also a high source of sugar. By substituting the traditional cane sugars for stevia and other healthy and natural sweeteners however, SWT has managed to create chocolate that looks and tastes identical, but without the vast majority of the negatives that come with it.

“We believe that enjoying a healthy diet which includes responsible food choices, shouldn’t mean making sacrifices as a consumer, so we work tirelessly to ensure natural solutions to keep food tasting delicious, while at the same time allowing these treats to benefit our overall health” says Lizet Dircio, one of the R&D specialists in charge of product development at SWT.

For food producers, SWT solutions can offer these products in a variety of different applications – from standalone chocolate products to rich desserts and even in baked goods.

The range is extensive, with applications such as ice cream, baked goods, syrups and chocolate bars. Also as ingredients in jams and spreads all benefitting from SWT research and development. With almost endless applications, making a health directed switch away from sugars and towards stevia has become easier than ever.

Here are some of our industry-leading new products, which places healthy sugar reduction just at the reach of your hand:

No-added sugar chocolate bars


  • Dark chocolate (70 to 80% of cocoa)
  • Flavoured dark chocolate (mint, orange, saffron, coffee, caramel and sea salt)
  • Superfood boosted (quinoa, oats and vitamin-enriched bars)
  • Peanut Butter and vegan chocolate
  • Chocolate chips


No-added sugar syrups

SWT offers a wide range of no-added sugar syrup products – from traditional offerings like caramel, maple syrup and chocolate, to diverse new flavours such as strawberry, cherry and orange. These syrups products can be added to existing products as a method of reducing overall sugar content (making your classic product line healthier, without changing the flavour or texture), or can be used as stand-alone condiments and sauces to accompany other types of food.


Spreads, jams and marmalades

With a variety of chocolate, hazelnut and vanilla-style spreads already in our product portfolio, SWT has further refined its product line to offer you traditional in a variety of flavours. Choose from strawberry, pineapple, blackberry, summer fruits, apple and orange, with all of the flavour but a fraction of the sugar contents of traditionally-formulated jams and spreads.


No-added sugar cereal bars and cookies

With the rise of the on-the-go breakfast, offering genuinely healthy cereal bars and mid-morning snacks has never been more important. To help your company make a difference in nutrition improvements, SWT has reformulated many popular styles of snack bar in order to create a low-sugar alternative to what has traditionally been a sugar-laden market.

For those who prefer to eat later in the day, SWT has also recreated popular styles of brand-name biscuits and cookies, but with added nutritional benefits and reduced sugar and fat contents overall.

With mixes of cereal, fruit, chocolate chip and seed ingredients, breakfasts can taste delicious, fill you up and do you good all at the same time.

Besides designing chocolate and confectionary products that are lower in hydrogenated fats and unhealthy sugars than traditional confectionary, the team at SWT have also managed to create nutritionally enriched foodstuffs that are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, magnesium, iron and zinc. Our stevia-sweetened spreads and cereal bars are also high in prebiotic fibre, providing the basis for a healthier gut and a tastier diet.

Thanks to industry-leading experience, SWT has created all of this without affecting the texture and the flavour that consumers love. Our team of developers can help to add these benefits to existing products – helping you turn best sellers into high-quality superfoods without losing any of the organoleptic qualities that makes your food the food you love.