Curious about low-calorie sweeteners? You’re not alone. Conflicting information about low-calorie sweeteners seems to be reaching new heights, so we’ve searched high and low for the facts. Here’s the low-down on stevia sweeteners.
What is Stevia Leaf Extract and How is it Different than Sugar?
Stevia leaf extract comes from the stevia plant, which originates in South America. The primary components extracted from the stevia leaf are called steviol glycosides. Extract from these plants are used in stevia sweeteners to provide a sweet taste without calories in many foods and beverages.
Sweet as Sugar?
Stevia sweeteners are 200-350 times sweeter than sugar, which means only a very small amount is needed to match the sweetness of sugar. Stevia leaf extract is the primary sweeteners found in brand names like Enliten, Pure Via, SPLENDA Naturals Stevia Sweetenerand Truvia.
People often confuse stevia with another sweetener called Truvia, but they are not the same. Truvia is a blend of compounds, one of which is extracted from stevia leaves. Bottom line: Stevia is a naturally occurring, zero-calorie sweetener. The two major sweet compounds in it are called Stevioside and Rebaudioside A.
Did You Know?
While the stevia plant may look like a plant from the mint family (Lamiaceae), it’s actually part of the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
Is it Safe?
Yes, stevia leaf extract is safe to consume. It’s one of eight low and no-calorie sweeteners permitted by the FDA for use in the US food supply. All eight have been rigorously tested and reviewed. Leading global health authorities such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), FAO/WHO Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and Health Canada have found low and no-calorie sweeteners to be safe. Stevia leaf extracts have been listed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA for use in foods and beverages since 2008.
What’s the Bottom Line on Stevia?
All foods can have a place in our diets, and low- and no- calorie sweeteners are no different. In addition, stevia is one of many safe options that can be included in broader weight reduction or weight maintenance plans. What’s most important is to build a healthy eating style and support it with other healthy habits that are sustainable and tailored to your health and lifestyle needs.
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