Stevia is one of a family of plants that are native to South America and have been used for centuries to sweeten drinks and foods.
Stevia leaves are said to be from 30 to 300 times sweeter than sugar though the amount of sweetness varies from leaf to leaf and plant to plant.
It is touted as a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners.
To date, chemical analysis and studies show that the leaf powder adds no calories, has no harmful side effects and is more palatable with less aftertaste than any artificial, chemical sweetener to date.
Stevia powder has been in wide use in South America for centuries, and in Japan since the government banned the use of artificial sweeteners.
To date, no harmful side effects have come to light, making stevia one of the most promising sugar alternatives available. Stevoside, made from stevia powder, is approved as a food additive in Korea, and is widely available throughout China, Taiwan and Malaysia.