Humans are born with a preference for food that tastes sweet. Scientists believe that our ‘sweet tooth’ is an evolutionary advantage since non-toxic foods tended to be sweet. For centuries, worldwide, this 'sweet' desire drove people to seek out sweet foods and ingredients in nature, including honey, maple syrup, sugar cane, sugar beets, sweet corn, agave, fruit, and fruit juices.
Stevia: A more healthful dietary approach
While the desire for sweet food has not changed, modern lifestyles have. There are fewer opportunities to be physically active and more occasions to eat and drink. As energy expenditure diminished, daily energy requirements have similarly decreased, resulting in today's need to consume fewer calories to manage weight.
Being overweight and obese has become a global public health issue for both adults and children. Added sugars often contribute unneeded calories to the diet. Despite the emergence of sugar substitutes, consumers still express preference for a natural sweet source with few or zero calories.
Stevia is a naturally-sourced, zero-calorie sweetener that can be a sensible part of a healthful dietary approach. Stevia is safe for people of all ages. Stevia contributes no carbohydrates and has zero glycemic index, so it is appropriate for use by people who need to manage blood glucose levels, such as people with diabetes.
Stevia is available in many ways. Sometimes it is the sole sweetener and other times it is blended with other zero-calorie sweeteners. Often it is blended with sugar in reduced-calorie food and beverages.
Stevia is used by major food and beverage companies. It may be found in hundreds of food and beverages around the world including teas, soft drinks, juices, yoghurt, soymilk, granola and snack bars, baked goods, cereal, salad dressings, alcoholic beverages, chewing gum, canned fruit and jam, confections and as a table-top sweetener.