As you probably know from the very particular way you take your coffee, not all sweeteners are created equal. The market is booming with sugar substitutes: Fromsaccharin-sweetened Sweet’N Low to aspartame-sweetened Equal, there are plenty of ways to make your cup of joe a bit less bitter. For fewer calories, many choose these sugar alternatives and put up with an artificial flavor or a funky aftertaste.
It’s no wonder Americans have grown accustomed to these various sweetening options: More than 78 million U.S. adults are obese, and sugar-dense foods and beverages may be a major contributing factor. We’re in search of a sweet but healthy solution.
Stevia, an FDA-approved sweetener, attempts to be the answer. It’s becoming increasingly popular, blending in between the pink, blue and yellow packets at coffee shops, even making its way into brand name soda products. Coca-Cola Life, which launched in the U.S. in 2014, is a lower-calorie pop marketed to those who are turned off by the taste of typical diet soda. It relies on both stevia extract and cane sugar to get its sweetness. Naturally, Pepsi rolled out its own version — Pepsi True — also sweetened with a sugar-stevia blend. If you’ve used stevia, you might know that the sweetener is calorie-free. But there’s more to the sugar impostor; find seven things you might not know about it below.
Stevia is actually a plant.
The sugar substitute is extracted from the stevia plant. A species called Stevia rebaudiana is naturally grown in Brazil and Paraguay, where it has been used for hundreds of years to sweeten foods and treat burns and stomach discomfort,LiveScience reports. The plant gets its sweetness from naturally occurring glycosides,which are extracted from the stevia leaves through a process that starts by placing the plant in hot water.
Read more below: