Its an herb, and its natural and its very, very sweet and it has no calories.
Natural AND No Calories! I have died and gone to food heaven!
I have been using stevia for a few years now and it was not FDA approved as a food, so it was sold as a supplement, so you did not see it in a lot of products, until now. It seems that the FDA has approved stevia as a food (thanks to big companies like Coke and Pepsi) and its now popping up under the new name of Truvia, PureVida, Sun Crystals, and Sweet Leaf.
The OG (I'm so gangsta, ha!) is Sweet Leaf. That is the one I have been using for a long time. Its also the purest one as far as I can tell. It is very sweet, and has a kick of fiber as well. It works very well in drinks, smoothies and such. I have never tried to cook with it and I really don't plan on it. If I do bake, I will use raw sugar or agave nectar. But for your coffee, tea or smoothie - Sweet Leaf is perfect. They also have it in liquid form in lots of different flavors such as vanilla, lemon and chocolate. I loooooove the vanilla one! This one is produced by Wisdom Natural Brands and they only make 3 products, Sweet Leaf, a Mate Tea and Sweet & Slender. I tend to trust smaller companies more than the big guys, so this is my #1 choice.
Now lets get to the others...
PureVia is distributed by Pepsi. It will be put in all kinds of beverages and the first will be SoBe Life. I have not tried this one yet, but from the description it looks like its been more refined than Sweet Leaf and I automatically get suspicious when a huge company like PepsiCo is involved. But, hey, I may be wrong and it may be better than Sweet Leaf. I am open minded enough to give it a shot.
Sun Crystals...I have tried this one and I loooove it too. It does have some sugar in it, so the texture is almost the same as real sugar. This one is distributed by Johnson & Johnson. So, yeah, I get suspicious here too. However, the ingredients are sugar cane and stevia. That is it, and apparently you can bake with it - goodie!
Truvia...this one is made with stevia AND sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are very hard to digest and are not good for your tummy. So I have totally avoided this one. Its marketed as "Truvia - Natural Sweetener" not ALL natural sweetener. This one is manufactured by Cargill (a huge food company) and is being used by Coke. I am wondering if some fancy marketing shuffle is going on here with all of the sugar alcohol and such.
I do think that this is a move in the right direction. I just hope that the big guys don't mess up a good thing.
ALSO - the best option yet, and one I plan on doing ASAP is grow your own stevia! Its as easy as growing any other herb and then you know the source better than anything you could possibly buy in the store.
LOVE, LIGHT AND SWEETNESS!