Several chemical and natural sugar substitutes are in use in different parts of the world. Aspartame is probably the most popular among the chemical substitutes. Alternate organic sugar substitutes include honey, dates, maple syrup, agave sweeteners, etc. These contain fewer calories than or roughly the same calories as sugar, but the substitutes also include other nutrients.
Most of the Stevia-based products sold in the market come from Stevia rebaudiana. The plant belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is a bush that prefers a semi-humid, sub-tropical climate. Stevia is easy to cultivate. The plant is native to Paraguay and Brazil, where it has been traditionally used as a sweetener in foods and drinks. China, though, is the world’s largest producer and exporter of Stevia.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) determined pure stevia extract is safe for consumption when consumed within acceptable levels. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been set at 4 mg per kilogram of body weight.
Stevia is now present in several foods and beverages in the United States including Gatorade’s G2, Vitamin Water Zero, Sprite Green, and many other products. It is used in cooking, baking, and a range of dairy and non-dairy desserts.
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