Pink. Blue. Yellow. No, these are not just colors; these are sweeteners that dominate the sugar substitute market. More specifically, these are examples of artificial sweeteners that are favored by millions of Americans. A growing demand for choice, however, means there is a new group in the sweetener club – natural sweeteners.
Natural sweeteners are commonly understood as sweeteners that are derived from plants, fruits or vegetables and contain no artificial or synthetic components. Some are low in calories; some are not.
“For people looking for new ways to sweeten and enjoy their favorite foods, however, they can be a great option,” says nutrition expert and Registered Dietician, Molly Kimball. “They taste delicious and are easy to incorporate into any lifestyle.”
Natural sweeteners really do get their start in nature. Take Truvia(R), a popular, zero-calorie natural sweetener, for example. Truvia(R) is the brand name for rebiana, a natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant.
The stevia plant was discovered more than 200 years ago in South America and has been used as a sweetener in various parts of the world for more than three decades. To make the sweetener, the leaves are harvested and dried, and then steeped in fresh water in a process similar to that of making tea. This unlocks the best-tasting part of the leaf, which is then further purified so it is ready for use in foods.
In line with recent food trends, consumers are demanding more natural products – naturally sweetened, naturally flavored and the like. Brands responded with entire lines of naturally sweetened goods using sweeteners like Truvia(R) rebiana.
“Natural sweeteners are easier to find than most people think,” says Kimball. It is impossible to walk down the grocery aisle and not see new, naturally sweetened varieties of well-known brands. “Take new Crystal Light Pure, for example. It’s sweetened with sugar and Truvia(R) rebiana, making it a great choice for someone looking for a naturally sweetened, low-calorie beverage.” Crystal Light Pure contains 15 calories and 4 grams of sugar per 8 fluid-ounce serving.
In the end, it all comes back to consumer choice and consumers are reaching for natural sweeteners.