Stevia - Sugar without Calories

The natural sweetener Stevia is a whopping 300 times sweeter than traditional beet or cane sugar and could be a way for people with a sweet tooth to satisfy their cravings in a healthier way.

Dr Margaret Ashwell, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Global Stevia Institute, an information service provided by the main suppliers of Stevia, believes the health benefits cannot be underestimated. 'Stevia can help people enjoy natural-origin sweetness while reducing calories as part of a healthful, balanced diet,' she told the Independent. She added: 'There are enormous opportunities for industries to meet national and international pledges to reduce sugar in products to help the obesity crisis.' 

Used for thousands of years in South American cooking, it was added to food as a sweetener as well as a health tonic and treatment for high blood pressure, heartburn, gout and type 2 diabetes.

Now multinational food companies are interested in the possible benefits of Stevia and are introducing it into a range of low-calorie products.