The artificial sweetener stevia is a good alternative to sugar for diabetics because it is not a carbohydrate and does not raise blood sugar levels, states Mayo Clinic. The key advantage of stevia over other artificial sweeteners is that it is natural and comes from a plant, adds WebMD.
In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration stated that stevia-based products are generally regarded as safe, granting them the GRAS classification that paves the way for mainstream acceptance, according to Healthline. Artificial sweeteners are regulated by the FDA as food additives, adds Mayo Clinic. Before substances are made available for sale, they must be reviewed and approved by the FDA. Generally regarded as safe substances, such as highly refined stevia products, are deemed to be safe for their intended use based on scientific data.
Stevia is derived from the sweetleaf plant that grows in tropical regions of Western North America and South America, explains WebMD. The leaves contain stevioside and rebaudioside, sweet glycosides that are 300 times sweeter than table sugar. The sweet glycosides are extracted from the plant and sold as powder or liquid. Stevia has a slight after-taste that can be masked when it is used to sweeten foods or beverages that have an existing flavor and contain another source of mild sweetness.