Coca-Cola has found a happy medium between its sugary Coke and unnaturally sweetened Diet Coke drinks.
Last Wednesday, the soda giant announced plans to sell its first stevia-sweetened Coke product, Coca-Cola Life, in Argentina. According to the Huffington Post, this announcement comes months after Coca-Cola announced a Sprite recipe change, substituting stevia for some of the sugar in the soda.
Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from a species of plant native to South America, Central America, and Mexico. It tastes a bit sweeter than sugar but has zero calories; Coca-Cola Life will have about half as many calories as regular Coke.
Though stevia has a lower calorie count than sugar, experts are concerned that the sweetener is not a truly healthier option for people suffering from obesity and diabetes. According to Mayo Clinic Nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., refined stevia is a nonnutritive sweetener appealing to those trying to lose weight, but there’s no evidence of weight loss advantages as opposed to other artificial sweeteners. Zeratsky also says the FDA hasn’t approved whole-leaf stevia or crude stevia extracts to use as food additives because of possible health effects concerning blood sugar control, kidneys, and the cardiovascular and reproductive systems.