When you order your iced tea at a restaurant, you might be familiar with the packets of Sweet’N Low, Equal, or Splenda. But have you heard of Stevia? Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana, is native to both Brazil and Paraguay, and is a member of the sunflower family. Despite being discovered by the Europeans in the early 1800s, local populations in South America have always used stevia as a sweetener. It took a long time for Western nations to access Stevia, because the main ingredient, Rebaudioside, is extremely expensive. This condensed extract is vital because it is considered safe by every governing body, whereas the entire stevia leaf was not put on the FDA’s Safe List due to low blood pressure concerns.
Stevia is extremely powerful. It is 200x sweeter than sugar! In the $14 billion market industry of sweeteners, Stevia’s global net worth is a whopping $336 million! Moreover, besides contributing greatly to the global sweetener economy, Stevia contributes greatly to pro-environmental efforts. In 2008, the FDA placed Stevia on the GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) List. Stevia is sustainable, and is grown by farmers on small farms in tropical landscapes. The ingredients that are harvested, both Rebaudioside A and Rebaudioside M, are much sweeter and less bitter than the traditional products used in other sweeteners, like Truvia. However, Stevia produces very small quantities of Rebaudioside A and Rebaudioside M, which makes its value skyrocket even higher. Stevia has no calories, which makes it a great alternative to the many calories in sugar. If you were to replace sugar with Stevia in your daily eating routine (without eating more food), you would consume less calories, and Stevia would ultimately yield weight loss! Before you start flooding your kitchen with Stevia and throw out all of your sugar, it’s important to note that the FDA says Stevia can be harmful at “poison dose levels.” Just don’t eat Stevia at poison dose levels and you can go enjoy this incredible, sustainable sweetener!