In the past few years, you’ve probably heard a lot about a sugar substitute called stevia. This sweetener, which comes from a plant native to South America and has been used to sweeten foods for hundreds of years, is already on the ingredient list in a huge variety of foods throughout your grocery store. Because so many products use it, Stevia has become a shopper’s favorite, especially for consumers trying to eat a balanced diet.
“Consumers have been looking for a natural way to sweeten products without calories,” says George Pugh, PhD, stevia expert and Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for Coca-Cola. The company invested years of research into the development and study of stevia. In part because of their hard work, the FDA gave it their stamp of approval to be used in foods and as a baking ingredient in 2008. “Coca-Cola paved the way,” says Pugh. “Now stevia is available in 75 countries around the world.”
Here’s a breakdown of what stevia is, where you can find it, and how it can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.