Commercially prepared stevia products are 100 to 300 times sweeter than granulated sugar. One packet or 1/2 teaspoon of stevia powder equals about 2 teaspoons of sugar, while four to six drops of liquid stevia has the same sweetening effect, according to Stevia.com. Stevia has no known side effects.
Stevia rebaudiana is an herb from the chrysanthemum family that grows wild in Paraguay and Brazil, and South American natives have used it as a natural sweetener since ancient times. Nevertheless, the United States initially banned it due to early studies that showed it might contribute to the development of cancer. Further research disproved those fears, however. The compound became generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008. More than 40,000 clinical studies in Japan, where stevia is popular, also have demonstrated that commercial stevia preparations are safe for human use. Additionally, using stevia in place of sugar appears to have some health benefits, especially for people hoping to limit calories, diabetics and children, states the National Institute of Health.
As of 2015, manufacturers market stevia in the United States under the names Truvia, PureVia and Sweet Leaf. Each product contains slightly different amounts of rebaudioside A and stevioside, the sweet extracts of the Stevia rebaudiana plant.