What is stevia?
The Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant was discovered by the native Guarani people more than 1,500 years ago. The plant grew in clumps along the edges of the rainforests of Paraguay. In the beginning, the natives used the leaves for medicinal benefits, to freshen their breath, and to sweeten and mellow the strong taste of herbal yerba maté tea.
Stevia leaves are highly nutritious and contain more than 100 vital nutrients.
Stevia leaves are 30 times sweeter than sugar.
Fresh leaves are a delicious addition to salads.
Stevia leaves can be eaten fresh or dried, crumbled, and sprinkled onto foods like a spice or seasoning.
Stevia leaves may also be steeped in water to make a delicious stevia tea.
Certified Paleo Designation
SweetLeaf® Stevia Sweetener and SweetLeaf Organic Stevia Sweetener packets have officially received the Certified Paleo designation from the Paleo Foundation, making SweetLeaf the only stevia brand with such a certification.
Progressive Grocer Editor's Pick
50ml Caramel SweetLeaf® Sweet Drops® Liquid Stevia were selected by Progressive Grocer‘s editorial team as an Editors’ Pick for taste, innovation, function, and convenience.
ChefsBest® Excellence Award
SweetLeaf® Natural and Organic Stevia Sweetener packets were awarded a 2016 ChefsBest® Excellence Award. The ChefsBest Excellence Award is awarded to brands that surpass quality standards established by independent professional chefs.
Women's Choice Award®
SweetLeaf Stevia® received the 2016 Women’s Choice Award® as a “9 out of 10 Recommended” brand for the stevia sweetener category. This award means that SweetLeaf met the exceptionally high standards and achieved an extraordinary recommendation rating by women. Thank you for your vote of confidence!
Prevention Magazine Award
SweetLeaf® Organic Stevia Sweetener has been named one of 2016’s Cleanest Packaged Foods by Prevention. In the magazine’s 4th Annual Cleanest Packaged Food Awards, SweetLeaf® Organic Stevia Packets won the award in the Condiments, Spreads, & Sauces category. SweetLeaf, and all winners in the various award categories, were ultimately chosen for meeting, and exceeding, the following criteria:
- Contain no more than 10 grams of added sugars
- Low in, or devoid, of synthetic or artificial ingredients
- Prioritize organic, sustainably sourced, and non-GMO ingredients
- Prioritize toxin-free or eco-friendly packaging
- Are made without excess sodium
- Taste absolutely delicious
Kid Kritics Award
Kids give thumbs up to SweetLeaf® Stevia, which came out a winner in a taste test conducted with one of the most discerning audiences. Zero-calorie, zero-carb SweetLeaf® was used to create a healthier version of lemonade, and 49 kids aged 5-12 gave the beverage a 98% approval rating in a product test sponsored by Kid Kritics Approved (KKA).
Kid Kritics Approved Taste Tests are blind tests intended to research healthier food options. Products must meet specific criteria prior to being taste tested, including being a natural food source from the ground, water, earth, and air and having no artificial additives.
Progressive Grocer’s Awards
Recognized for their taste, innovation, and value, SweetLeaf® Raspberry Lemonade and Peach Mango Water Drops® were among the 2015 Progressive Grocer’s Editors’ Picks Award winners for 2015.
World Stevia Award
The Stevia Tasteful Award recognizes the best-tasting stevia extract in the world. Awarded to SweetLeaf® Organic Stevia by the World Stevia Organization at the international Stevia Tasteful 2015 gathering in Berlin, SweetLeaf Organics received the highest distinction of three leaves in voting for the WSO Best Taste Award.
The Gourmet Retailer Award
Flavorful, sugar-free, zero-calorie SweetLeaf® Raspberry Lemonade Water Drops® were awarded an Editors’ Pick award from The Gourmet Retailer for taste and convenience in the publication’s August 2015 issue.
Natural Child World Award
Cream of Coco® soap, from Wisdom Natural Brands®, makers of SweetLeaf®, won Natural Child World Magazine’s 2015 Eco-Excellence Award® in the “Skin Care for Dad” Category in the summer of 2015.
World Stevia Award
The prestigious World Stevia Organization has awarded their 3-leaf recognition to SweetLeaf’s Peach Mango Water Drops® during their international conference in Berlin in July 2014. The 3-leaf Stevia Tasteful Award is the highest honor given by the World Stevia Organization to products and extracts for taste and innovation.
Lifetime Achievement Award
James May, CEO and Founder of Wisdom Natural Brands®, was honored at Stevia World Europe with the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award , where he was recognized as the “Father of Stevia.” James May was globally recognized for his lifetime commitment to researching and promoting the benefits of stevia.
Carol May Awards
Carol May, President of Wisdom Natural Brands®, was honored with Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery award for 2013. Selected in the Senior Executives category, Carol May was one of the few from a product manufacturer – rather than a grocery retailer or business services firm – considered to be changing the industry.
Carol May also received the 2013 Silver Award for Lifetime Achievement in Business (across all industries), as well as a 2013 Bronze Award for Female Executive of the Year in Consumer Products at the worldwide Stevie Awards held in New York City.
Grocery Headquarters Awards
Grocery Headquarters honored and awarded SweetLeaf® with its 2014 Selling Wellness Trailblazer award for SweetLeaf® Sweet Drops® Liquid Stevia.
Grocery Headquarters also honored and awarded SweetLeaf® with its 2014 Selling Wellness Trailblazer award for Top Wellness Company
World Stevia Award
SweetLeaf® won the 2012 Best Stevia taste award for its SweetLeaf Stevia® Extract and Chocolate Sweet Drops® Liquid Stevia in Paris awarded by the World Stevia Organization.
SweetLeaf won the 2013 Best Taste award for its Vanilla Crème Sweet Drops® Liquid Stevia in Paris awarded by the World Stevia Organization.
SugarLeaf® was named one of only three finalists for the prestigious Nutracon NutrAwards for Best New Finished Product. Finalists in this category were selected based on product viability, emergence of product category, creative product concept, distinctive health application, unique packaging, and matchless marketing.
President of Paraguay and the Paraguayan Chamber of Stevia, CAPASTE
Paraguayan President Federico Franco and the Paraguayan Chamber of Stevia (CAPASTE), officially recognized James May, Founder and CEO of Wisdom Natural Brands®, for his pioneering role in the creation and expansion of the global stevia industry.
The World Stevia Organization awarded World’s Best Tasting Stevia Awards to SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener in the Extract category and Chocolate SweetLeaf® Sweet Drops® Liquid Stevia in the Consumer Product Made with Stevia category.
SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener was recognized as the 2012 award winner for best-tasting stevia product by the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health.
SugarLeaf® was singled out by Progressive Grocer as a 2012 Editors’ Pick.
SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener was recognized with a “Favorite Sweetener” Foodie Award from Clean Eating magazine.
Chocolate Sweet Drops® were awarded 93 out of 100 possible points as a winning product for “intense, versatile taste that goes a long way with just a drop or two” by food trends editor, Today Show correspondent and “supermarket guru” Phil Lempert.
Mr. May was presented with the Visionary Award by the American Herbal Products Association. This prestigious award honored Mr. May for his singular vision in bringing stevia to the U.S. in 1982 and his perseverance in championing the herb from 1982 to the present day.
National Restaurant Association Winner
SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener was named Best in Show by the National Restaurant Association.
SweetLeaf® received the 2010 Foodie Award in the Liquid Sweetener category from Vegetarian Times magazine, which created a ballot of 114 products in 30 categories. Readers responded with more than 100,000 votes and English Toffee SweetLeaf® Sweet Drops® Liquid Stevia emerged the winner.
Global Stevia Products Award
SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener was the overall winner of the 2010-2011 Annual Global Stevia Products Award by the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health (ISANH) based on taste, performance, advancement in ingredient science, and positive environmental and social impact. The ISANH Organizing Committee determined SweetLeaf Stevia to be a viable tool to support sugar reduction and artificial sweetener replacement.
Honored in Latin America
Mr. May was honored for his work on behalf of the farmers of Latin America. He was invited to address the International Symposium on Stevia in Asunción, Paraguay, where he was re-elected the Honorary President of the Stevia Association of the Americas, an organization of stevia growers, academics, processors, and manufacturers throughout Central and South America.
Phoenix College Hall of Fame
Mr. May was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Phoenix College for his accomplishments benefiting the local community and beyond. To be inducted into the hall of fame, Phoenix College alumni must demonstrate significant accomplishments in his or her career and commitment to volunteerism and/or community service. Wisdom Natural Brands’ commitment to combatting obesity and diabetes and its numerous awards made May a merited candidate for this honor.
Wisdom Natural Brands® was established as the only stevia company and stevia brand to continuously win international awards.
Wisdom Natural Brands® received an “FDA No Questions” letter in answer to the findings of two expert panels of scientists pertaining to SweetLeaf Stevia®.
SweetLeaf Stevia® Sweetener obtained GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) affirmation from the GRAS Associates, LLC and Life Sciences Research Office, two separate and independent organizations of scientists. Beginning in March 2008, SweetLeaf was the first stevia to meet the requirements to be marketed as a sweetener in the U.S. All other brands followed SweetLeaf’s lead. This allowed stevia to be sold as a food product, as a table sweetener, and as a food additive in other foods and beverages.
The Miracle of Stevia by James May was published by Kensington Publishing Company. Mr. May, known worldwide as The Father of Stevia, explained stevia’s many therapeutic and nutritional values, and offered enlightening testimonials from doctors and nutritionists who have experienced the power of stevia in their own lives and those of their patients. The published book is an historical look into the world’s use of stevia through the year 2002.
FDA Allows Stevia to Be Sold as a Dietary Supplement
After receiving the appropriate authorization, Wisdom Natural Brands developed and marketed SweetLeaf Stevia Plus® as a dietary supplement that included inulin, a soluble fiber found naturally in fruits and vegetables. Other SweetLeaf Stevia products are sold as dietary supplements from 1995 – 2008. SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Clear was developed in 1996.
Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), allowing certain herbal products to be marketed as dietary supplements. In 1995, stevia was added to that product list.
Mr. May's Washington Meeting
Mr. May meets several Congressmen and Senators in Washington, D.C. regarding the FDA position on stevia. They agree it should be offered to consumers and retailers.
FDA banned the importing and marketing of stevia.
Vegetarian Times published a two-paragraph piece on Mr. May and the fact he brought stevia to the U.S.
Mr. May met with the Phoenix Regional FDA office, where he was directed to stop bringing stevia as a sweetener into the U.S.
Father of Stevia
James May was introduced to stevia by a Peace Corps volunteer who had been serving in Paraguay. Mr. May left his position as the head of an artificial kidney dialysis program in a major Phoenix, Arizona hospital system, and invested his life savings into manufacturing and marketing stevia products for the U.S. market. May’s local FDA office gave him permission to distribute stevia. He began selling Yerba Maté Royale®, a combination of Yerba Maté tea with stevia. James May’s first venture was Wisdom of the Ancients® herbal teas.
Stevioside and other sweet glycosides extracted from stevia leaves achieved a 40% market share as a commercial sweetener in Japan.
Cultivating in Japan
Japan began cultivating stevia and extracting the various steviosides to be used in place of sugar. Following extensive safety tests, the steviosides were approved as a sweetener by the government of Japan. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture became interested in stevia in 1954, at the time when Japanese began living in and establishing farms in Paraguay.
England explored the possibility of using stevia when sugarcane supplies from the Caribbean were cut off during WWII. A British doctor suggested growing stevia in glass greenhouses, similar to ones used to grow sugar beets by Napoleon during the British blockade of France.
French chemists M. Bridel and R. Lavielle isolated the compounds that gave the plant its sweet taste. The glycosides were named stevioside and rebaudioside. Researcher M. Pomaret joined Lavielle to show how stevioside was excreted from the body mostly without structural change. Their studies are still quoted extensively in scientific literature.
Dr. Ovidio Rebaudi
Dr. Ovidio Rebaudi received a stevia sample from Dr. Bertoni and conducted the first complete study of stevia leaves. Later, Dr. Bertoni named the plant Stevia rebaudiana in honor of the Spanish botanist, Dr. Pedro Jaime Esteve. Neighboring countries began cultivating stevia crops.
Dr. Moisés Bertoni
The stevia plant was first researched scientifically by Dr. Moisés Bertoni, a Swiss botanist who had immigrated to Paraguay and was the Director of the College of Agriculture at the University of Asunción. He was the first to publicize the sweet properties of the plant in Revista de Agronomía in 1899, and the first to develop a commercial enterprise for stevia by exporting it to other countries.
The Guarani Indians introduced Ka’a He’ê to Spanish Conquistadors, who called it azucar-ca’a (sugar herb). The priests attempted to cultivate the plant so they could present it as a special treat to Spanish royalty and Catholic hierarchy. The plant proved too difficult to cultivate and attempts to successfully transport stevia to Spain failed.
The Guarani Indians of Paraguay called the plant Ka’a He’ê (sweet herb) and used it in their teas to treat a variety of ailments. The Guarani people also used the leaves as a “sweet treat.” They quickly learned about its tonic action on the stomach. They learned that a small amount containing ground stevia leaves in hot water may provide relief to an upset stomach.