I love tea. And I love a little something sweet in it. Yet I have learned that it’s better to avoid too much sugar. Not so much for the fear of gaining weight (not exactly my problem) but because sugar tends to feed the wrong kind of processes in our body. So I was happy that, quite a few years ago, I found stevia. Stevia is a plant from the Amazone with very sweet leaves. Stevia is much sweeter than sugar, yet it has no calories or any of the other bad effects that sugar has. Stevia is available in drops and as a powder. You can get it in natural food stores as a supplement. Yes, stevia is not supposed to be an alternative for sugar. It can only be sold as a supplement. At least that was the case until the Food and Drug Administration approved stevia for use as an alternative sweetener in food just a few days ago.
This is a very important breakthrough. Lots of people use “light” versions of all kinds of food products. These products are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. These artificial sweeteners have been suspect. Some studies seem to indicate that they are carcinogenic. Others suggest that they support rather than fight obesity. Although science may not have given the final verdict on these artificial sweeteners yet, there are good reasons to avoid these as much as possible.
All major food companies are familiar with the possibilities of stevia. However until the recent FDA decision the manufacturers of artificial sweeteners have been successful in blocking the entry of stevia to the sweetener market. They have used a lot of money and bad science to prevent the entry of stevia, which–as a plant–contrary to the artificial sweeteners cannot be patented.
So the new year begins with some sweet progress. Look at the label of your light soft drink in the months ahead. And, in the mean time, do buy some drops to sweeten your tea. Highly recommended.
Jurriaan Kamp is the founder and editor of Ode Magazine, the magazine for intelligent optimists.