Stevia is a sugar substitute. It is made from the stevia herb, a plant that is native to northeast Paraguay and a member of the chrysanthemum family. Stevia is currently grown in many places including Brazil, Japan, China, India, Mexico and Colombia. Stevia has been consumed in other countries outside the United States for decades. Stevia is 30 times sweeter than sugar in its unprocessed form and 250-300 times sweeter once it has been purified. Products made from Stevia include the brand names Sweetleaf and Truvia and they contain zero calories. Truvia offers a conversion chart on its Web site for cooking and baking purposes. For example, 3/4 teaspoon of Truvia = 2 teaspoons of sugar.
The World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration have deemed purified Stevia products safe in moderate amounts. The FDA has not approved whole leaf or crude stevia as food additives because of concerns about possible health effects. In particular, the FDA has concerns about the effects of Stevia on blood sugar control, the kidneys, and the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.
Stevia is now added to many beverages manufactured by the Coca-Cola company. Stevia is used in gum, yogurt, pickles, dried seafood, condiments, fish, meat, vegetables and confectionaries.
One benefit of Stevia use is that fewer calories are consumed, so it could be helpful in a weight loss plan.
In regard to your episodes of feeling weak and shaky, it is always a good idea to eat every three to five hours and include lean protein in meals and snacks. This ensures that our body gets the fuel it needs to control our blood sugars and appetite and keep us energized.