What is stevia?
The term “stevia” actually refers to Stevia rebaudiana, which is a South American plant in the Chrysanthemum family of plants. Only certain parts of the plant are sweet. The sweet components extracted from the leaves of the plant are called steviol glycosides. Even though “stevia” can refer to the whole plant, for this article “stevia” will refer to the sugar substitute made from the plant, since that’s how the term is commonly used. Stevia has no calories and is an all-natural sugar substitute. It is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Some people can detect an aftertaste when they consume stevia.
Stevia is also known by several brand names, including PureVia, Truvia and SweetLeaf Sweetener.
Benefits of Stevia
- Can be substituted for sugar when for baking
- Does not affect glucose levels
- Comes from an all-natural source
- Does not contribute to tooth decay
What is it used in?
Stevia can be found in many foods and drinks, such as desserts, chewing gum, baked goods, candy, and yogurt, and as a tabletop sweetener. It can also be used as a substitute for sugar when you are baking.
Is stevia safe?
Although stevia is relatively new, there have been several studies showing that it is safe for people to consume in moderation. Stevia has been approved for use in the United States as a food additive since 2008.
See a list of resources used in the development of this information.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff