The growth of the health and wellness world has caused coffee lovers to look for more nutritious alternatives to sweetening their cup of dark roast. Why can’t we have the best of both worlds—savoring a delicious cup of coffee while looking sleek and toned?
In comes stevia leaf extract, a popular alternative to sugar that’s supposedly the most natural option out there. Although many enjoy a packet of stevia in their cup of coffee or tea, few know exactly where this sweet alternative comes from.
This Sweetener Comes Straight From The Source
Stevia leaf extract comes directly from a plant called stevia rebaudiana. This plant can be found in South America, and its sweetness comes from the compounds stevioside and rebaudioside A. The fact that this zero-calorie sugar alternative originates from a plant has lead to it being branded as a completely natural option.
Although many believe that stevia leaf extract is a flawless solution to curbing sugar consumption, there are some cons as to how it is produced. Stevia may not be as natural as one may believe…
This Sugar Alternative May Be Somewhat Toxic
Bad news for Breaking Bad fans. Lydia’s fatal run-in with Stevia may be a bit of a stretch, but how natural is this so-called natural sweetener?
The term “natural” is not currently regulated by the FDA, leaving food companies with the opportunity to be a little lenient when it comes to sticking this buzzworthy word on their packaging.
Stevia sweetener does indeed come from a plant, but what most people don’t know is that it is processed in a lab using ethanol. This processing procedure has caused many to debate whether or not you can consider this sweetener natural.
It comes down to your own personal opinion, due to no solid standards being defined by the FDA. According to some of the industry experts, a lot of our most coveted foods have to go through some degree of processing—and they wouldn’t be the same without it.
“If you were to eat raw coffee beans, you would not recognize them as coffee. They must be fermented, dried, and roasted to produce the flavor you expect from coffee. The roasting pyrolyzes fats, proteins, and sugars, producing dozens of pyrazines and other aromatic chemical substances that many of us have grown to love,” stated Eric Walters, a professor and associate dean at Rosalind Franklin University.
Unless it is laced with ricin, moderate consumption of stevia sweetener isn’t going to kill you. Although it does blur the lines of completely natural, it is a better option than other traditional sweeteners—and some prefer its uniquely bitter taste.