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Soda Giants Wake Up and Smell the Stevia

December 19th, 2008

Stevia

Coming soon to a Coke label near you: Stevia

First Coke and Pepsi, and now Dr. Pepper have all announced their intention to begin marketing drinks sweetened with stevia.  Meanwhile, millions of people are wondering what the heck took them so long. What is stevia? Stevia is a a zero-calorie ‘herbal sweetener’ made from the leaves of the South American Stevia rebaudiana plant.

Stevia is cultivated for use as a ZERO CALORIE HERBAL SWEETENER. Feels good to finally be able to say that!

Stevia is cultivated for use as a ZERO CALORIE HERBAL SWEETENER. Feels good to finally be able to say that!

Health food stores and supplement retailers like AllStarHealth.com have been supplying stevia to the in-the-know public for decades. Millions of people currently use stevia extracts in powder and liquid forms to sweeten foods and drinks of all kinds.  But because stevia had, controversially, never been approved as a sweetener (technically a ‘food additive’) by the FDA, manufacturers couldn’t refer to it as a sweetener and it remains marginalized and under-utilized.  If the stevia-sweetened sodas turn out to be a big hit, we can expect to see stevia in a lot more drinks and foods since the public is eager for safer and more-natural sweeteners than aspartame, sucralose and others.

You don’t have to wait for Coke or Pepsi to try stevia though, it’s inexpensive and available right now. Try the packets or liquid to sweeten foods and drinks.

Packets of powdered stevia are a great way to go. Did we mention stevia is a ZERO CALORIE HERBAL SWEETENER?

Packets of powdered stevia are a great way to go. Did we mention stevia is a ZERO CALORIE HERBAL SWEETENER?

Stevia is sweet, but if you use a lot of it, you begin to pick up a characteristic stevia taste, which is similar to licorice or fennel. It’s not unpleasant, but it does means that stevia works great in certain things – iced or  hot teas, plus gingerbread and other spicey-sweet foods – but not so well in others, like coffee, cereals or protein shakes. For that, you should try xylitol or erythritol both of which are 100% natural and safe, both of which look and taste like sugar, both of which contribute only a small fraction of sugar’s calories and most importantly, have next-to-no impact on your blood sugar levels.

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