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UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Sweeten your soul, calorie free

If you’re like me, you wake up with only one thought racing through your head: Java, java, java!  No matter how many Z’s I manage to catch, I am always craving the deliciously bold taste of coffee in the morning.  I pour my cup of Dunkin Donuts cinnamon flavored coffee, add a bit of Half & Half, and between 4-6 packets of raw sugar.  OK, I like it sweet, so sue me!  But as much as I love my morning beverage to resemble an ice cream cone, I know that too much sugar is probably not the healthiest choice for me.  I have found myself in a catch 22.  Do I give up my mandatory morning coffee, or suck it up and drink it with less sugar.

Guess what! I don’t’ have to do either, because lucky for me (and you) a new herb based sweetener has been released by brand name products such as Pure Via, Truvia and SweetLeaf called Stevia.

For starters Stevia is made from the extraction of a natural sweetener called Rebaudioside A, from the leaves of a Stevia plant. Now don’t be alarmed at the sight of big words you may or not be able to pronounce; Reb- A is only here to help.  It is the sweetest and purest extract from the Stevia leaf and for those reasons you only need a single packet to sweeten an entire cup of whatever beverage your belly has chosen for you that day.

Although the plant is native to South America, Stevia has been used all over the world for hundreds of years now and is finally making its mark in the US.  It’s a great substitute for people with diabetes, and those who are concerned with keeping off that extra chub.  Pure Via comes in crystallized form, and can be found in packets similar to that of a sugar packet at your local grocery store.

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I know that I have just supplied you with some positively tasty and tantalizing information that has been nothing but good for you, but I do have to admit that there is one slight downfall to this product.  This may not concern some of you, but for you sugar cane lovers out there, you may need to brace yourselves.

Stevia has a slight after taste, and sadly, it is that of an artificial sweetener.  I know, I know the best part about sugar is that it doesn’t leave a strange, tangy vibe floating around your tonsils, but luckily it’s hardly noticeable.  The more Stevia you use per cup, or recipe, the stronger of an after taste you are going to get.  On the bright side, since Stevia is so strong, you don’t need to use much in the first place, so a packet in your coffee shouldn’t anger your taste buds too harshly.

Whether you like to enhance your coffee or tea, or even use it as a sugar substitutes in recipes, Stevia is the healthiest choice for you, if you’re brave enough to try it. It has no calories and no carbohydrates.  It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

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