Israelis Develop New Sweetener

Having a sweet tooth need no longer be fattening. Israeli scientists say they have developed a calorie-free sweetener 300 times sweeter than natural sugar.

The sweetener, stevioside, was presented at an international conference on sweeteners this week in Jerusalem.

It was described as a possible replacement for such sweeteners as saccharine and aspartame in foods and beverages.

The sweetening element is extracted and purified from a plant, stevia rebaudiana, in a process developed by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Although the plant grows along the border of Paraguay and Uruguay, it has been successfully cultivated in the Negev.

The plant was recently approved as a dietary supplement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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