According to estimates, 10 million Canadians live with diabetes or pre-diabetes, making the condition almost epidemic in the country. In particular, the South Asian community is at higher risk of being afflicted with diabetes. Besides genetic factors, poor lifestyle choices and unhealthy eating habits contribute to this. As the amount of sugar consumed has a clear connection to a person’s risk of contracting diabetes, zero-calorie artificial sweeteners are often the choice of many. However, most of these sweeteners come with mild to serious side-effects, and are thus not fully risk-free. But what if one had access to a sweetener made from natural sources and having no calories?
Stevia is one such plant-based product, now popular in different parts of the world. In Canada, Greeniche Natural is one company, which sells its own Stevia product. IrfanSattar, the company’s vice president recently spoke to Generation Next. He has been associated with pharmaceutical and healthcare industries for the last 18 years, in Pakistan and Canada. Since 2005, his focus has been on natural health products.
Excerpts from the interview:
GN: Take us through your journey with Greeniche. Why was the company formed?
IS: Greeniche Natural Health came into being in October 2010, when a group of professionals from the healthcare industry came together to form an organization focused on bringing the most modern natural healthcare concepts to people in Canada and abroad. The company plans to introduce a portfolio comprising natural healthcare products, including vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, health supplements, and consumer healthcare products.
Our vision is to create a leading health and personal-care products marketing company in Canada, and a competitive and successful player in the global market place. A company recognized for marketing excellence, futuristic approach, and acknowledged for being a responsible corporate citizen.
GN: Tell us about your product Stevia.
IS: Stevia is the world’s first all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener – a perfect alternative to sugar and artificial, chemical based sweeteners. Stevia is rapidly becoming the most preferred sweeteners by millions of consumers worldwide. Besides bearing zero calories, it is also free of carbohydrates and has a zero glycemic index, which makes it the perfect sweetener for people suffering from diabetes, or who care for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Stevia Rebaudiana is a specie of herbs belonging to the Asteraceae (sunflower) family, native to subtropical and tropical South America and Central America. The species are found in the wild in semi-arid habitats ranging from grassland to mountain terrain. Stevia’s sweetening properties are imparted by two components: Stevioside and Rebaudioside (Reb A) which is the best tasting part of the Stevia leaf. The concentration of this component determines the overall sweetness, taste, and aftertaste of the end-product.
Originally introduced to Japan in 1970 by a consortium of food-product manufacturers, stevioside and other stevia products quickly caught on.
Today Stevia is consumed by millions of people from its native origins of Paraguay & Brazil to Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Australia, Malaysia, USA, Canada, Russia, & many other countries.
The competing products like those made with Aspartame, Sucralose and Saccharine have established side-effects and consumers are actively seeking safer alternatives and Stevia fits the bill perfectly.
GN: Are there any side effects (however minimal) of Stevia?
IS: What makes Stevia so intriguing besides excellent sweetening capability and no reported side-effects are the following attributes:
- Zero glycemic index, making it perfect in diabetes
- Zero calories, zero carbs and fat, and it’s terrific for people who are trying to lose weight
- Studies have shown that it also minimizes hunger sensations and actually reduces cravings for sweets and fatty foods. Many people enjoy Stevia simply to avoid sugar and help prevent obesity. A completely natural way to lose weight!
- Studies have shown that Stevia lowers high blood pressure without affecting normal blood pressure
GN: What is the cost of GreenicheStevia. Do you have a plan to reduce thecost so that it is affordable for more people?
IS: Stevia doesn’t cost much considering the major health benefits and safety it offers. For some drinking 3 cups of tea/coffee a day with 2 sugars each, a pack of Stevia sachets would last for more than a month, translating into a daily cost of less than 40 cents a day, which, you may agree, isn’t much considering the advantages. Having said that, as the market expands and volumes grow, the price may come down in long-run.
GN: What other products do you have in the pipeline?
IS: We have a strong products pipeline, comprising very interesting concepts. We have recently introduced a zero-sodium salt, perfect for hypertensive patients who are advised to avoid common salt (sodium chloride). It tastes just like common salt and is completely free of sodium.
We are currently in the process of manufacturing a range of 100% vegetarian formulas of vitamins and supplements, which should be in the market sometime during the month of April, 2012.
GN: As part of your marketing efforts, is there a strategy to target theSouth Asian community in particular? If yes, how do you do this?
IS: The first and foremost effort is to promote awareness about the disease, which we do by participating in all relevant events, where we can share the information and provide guidance to the community. Our website and our Facebook page actively disseminate accurate and relevant information. We seek opportunities to stay in touch with the medical community to exchange information and ensure that we do whatever we can to make information available and accessible for everyone. We are working on a project to increase awareness amongst school going children about diabetes, and how to prevent it.
GN: What distinguishes Greeniche Stevia from other similar products?
IS: Greeniche Stevia is:
- The only brand of Stevia with 97% pure Reb-A making it the best tasting Stevia on the market
- The only formulation without Maltodextrin and Inulin
- The only formulation with rapid dissolution tablets
These facts make Greeniche Stevia absolutely top-of-the-line brand on the market delivering best value for consumers’ money.