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The Skinny On: Stevia

Stevia is perhaps one of the most controversial herbs since, well herb.


Stevia is reportedly to be 250-300 times sweeter than sugar and contributes no calories to the diet. How great is that?

Problem is that the FDA has not yet approved Stevia to be used as a sweetener (or food additive) or to be GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and so no-one is technically allowed to use Stevia unless it is specifically labeled and used as a dietary supplement. In fact the FDA has had an alert out since 1996 stating that if it is found to be labeled as a sweetener, search and seizure are to follow. In Japan and other countries, Stevia has been known as "nature's natural sweetener" and used by millions of people for those purposes for over 25 years.

Whoa, right?! Where does that leave us then when it comes to Stevia? Many people believe that the government is trying to protect the booming sweetener economy in the USA and that by allowing a cheap, noncaloric herb in, the competition will be crushed.

All politics aside, while we wait for the FDA to figure this wonderful little herb out, you can still use it and buy it as a 'dietary supplement.' It comes in the same forms as sugar would (powders and liquids).

Fit's Tip: I usually buy it in a liquid form and use it as I would honey in my coffee or tea to... um 'dietary supplement' it. 2-3 drops is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar.

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