Also known as Sweet Leaf, stevia is an extremely sweet herb, indigenous to South America, particularly Paraguay. Originally, the leaf was dried and powdered, and then added to drinks as a sweetener. An extract, stevioside, is estimated at 50 to 400 times as sweet as sucrose (cane sugar), with no calories. (By comparison, nutrasweet is 150 times as sweet as glucose.)

While is has been used in Japan as a sugar alternative for over 30 years, and at one time claimed roughly 41% of the sweetener market in that country, it is not yet approved by the FDA in the United States. On the other hand, artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame and Saccharin are approved, despite potential health risks. In fact, 75% of all non-drug complaints to the FDA are regarding aspartame reactions.