Stevia is a genus of about 240 species of herbs and shrubs in the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to subtropical and tropical regions from western North America to South America. The species Stevia rebaudiana, commonly known as sweetleaf, sweet leaf, sugarleaf, or simply stevia, is widely grown for its sweet leaves. As a sweetener and sugar substitute, stevia's taste has a slower onset and longer duration than that of sugar. In these indigenous areas, Stevia has become a staple in the diets of healthy minded individuals.
With its extracts having up to 300 times the sweetness of sugar, stevia has garnered attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. Medical research has also shown possible benefits of stevia in treating obesity and high blood pressure. Because stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose, it is attractive as a natural sweetener to people on carbohydrate-controlled diets. Consult your physician if you have diabetes or blood pressure issues, as it may help if you have any of these problems.
Stevia has been granted GRaS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status. This has opened up the doors to put in the market a safe natural alternative to all sugar, high fructose corn syrup and chemically derived substitutes. This is another hopeful step in helping you on your way to a healthier diet.