When you fix your morning coffee or tea, do you reach for sugar, or perhaps the pink, blue or yellow packets of artificial sweetener? You may be surprised to learn that there is one artificial sweetener that has been researched since the 1950s and used in Japan since the 1970s, but still hasn’t managed to find its way into your local Starbucks. This beneficial, all-natural sweetener called stevia has slowly made its way onto supermarket shelves. Stevia is nature’s safest sweetener.

About Sugar

Many might agree that white cane sugar gives the best taste to coffee or sweets. Sugar is what all of the other sweeteners are compared to, when discussing their flavor and potency. However as eating sugar causes blood glycemic levels to spike, it is not an ideal choice for diabetics or those concerned with their weight.

Saccharin, Aspartame and Sucralose

Found in the little pink packets of Sweet-n-Low, is the chemical saccharin.
Saccharin has widely been recognized as causing allergic reactions and cancer in laboratory animals.

Aspartame is found in the little blue packets, called Equal. Even though FDA research has declared aspartame to be a safe alternative to sugar, many consumers have reported symptoms such as headache and dizziness, abdominal pain, depression and increased hunger. Dr. H.J. Roberts has conducted studies on aspartame (medicinenet.com/artificial_sweeteners/page8.htm), and refers to those experiencing aspartame’s side effects as having “aspartame disease.”

Sucralose, found in yellow Splenda packets, is America’s most popular choice in artificial sweeteners. Although makers of Splenda products cite FDA safety findings on its website, splenda.com, Duke University Medical Center published a report in 2008 entitled “Splenda Alters Gut Microflora and Increases Intestinal P-Glycoprotein and Cytochrome P-450 in Rats.”

Why Stevia is the Best Choice

Stevia has been used and researched around the world for many years and has not been shown to have any toxicity to humans or have any ill side effects. Stevia is proven to be safe for human and animal consumption. Stevia does not have glycemic effects on blood sugar, which makes it a safe alternative for diabetics.

Stevia is non-fermentable, which means that it does not create a reaction when added to yeast. This is helpful for those who may be fighting an overgrowth of yeast in their system, called candidasis. However this also means that Stevia doesn’t work well as an alternative to sugar in making baked goods.

Though the intensity of Stevia’s sweetness tends to vary from brand to brand, it generally is 250 to 300 times sweeter than sugar.

Stevia is often more expensive than other sweeteners. This is because it is not as widely cultivated as sugar, and is not made of cheap, manufactured chemicals. However, as Stevia is likely to become more widely used in the future, perhaps the market will become more competitive.

Now available in many health food and grocery stores is a delicious brand of stevia-based sweetener called Pure Vida. Manufactured by Whole Earth Sweetener Company, Pure Vida is a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners that is a great-tasting and healthy addition to that morning cup of coffee or tea.