Stevia sweetener may be the only natural and healthy sugar free sweetener that has no calories and registers zero on the glycemic index. Stevia sweetener can help individuals sustain normal blood sugar levels, which makes it a very beneficial product for diabetics and other health conscious people who are striving to maintain a sugar free diet.
Stevia is an herb in the Chrysanthemum family of plants. The extracts from the stevia leaves are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, but have no impact on blood glucose. Stevia leaf extract has been used for centuries by natives of South America as a sugar free sweetener in their teas. It is also known for relieving ailments such as heartburn, and for its antiseptic properties. It has even been used to treat irritations of the skin.
Dr. Tei-Fu Chen, a master herbalist and licensed American pharmacist, perfected a method to extract the nectar from the stevia leaves without using chemicals. His company, Sunrider International, successfully petitioned the FDA in 1995 to lift the import alert on the extract of stevia. Other companies joined Sunrider in the production of stevia as a sugar free, “ dietary supplement".
In 2007, Coca Cola petitioned the FDA for approval of stevia as a sugar free" food additive". In 2008 that approval was made, and Coca Cola is now among other major manufacturers in the production of stevia based, sugar free products. Sunrider was one of the first companies to introduce stevia to the United States in 1984 with Sunectar. Sunectar has a dark brown color, but later, Sunrider purified the sugar free extract even further with the creation of SunnyDew, a clear liquid stevia.
After more than twenty-five years of stevia use throughout the United States, the benefits of this sugar free herbal extract seem certain. Through my own daily use of liquid stevia, I can say that it has helped in my life to reduce cravings for sweets and other unhealthy foods. I am no longer searching for a healthy sugar free substitute.
I'm glad you posted this, Cliff. I've been using Stevia for years and have been amazed at how long it's taken to get recognized in the US. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the makers of the awful, chemical-based sweetners such as Aspartame and Splenda haven't helped the public awareness of a good, healthy product. Sadly, when there's a financial loss potential, people will do anything to trounce competition.