Stevia (http://www.stevia.com) is a healthy alternative to sugar. What sets it apart from other sugar substitutes though? What makes it safer to consume? We've pulled from a few different resources to help explain why we allow Stevia in our total health challenge but no other sugar substitutes (including honey and maple syrup.)
** as always, consume in moderation. even Stevia.
"Stevia is perhaps unique among food ingredients because it's most valued for what it doesn't do. It doesn't add calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, stevia is derived from a plant.
A 2010 study in the journal Appetite tested several artificial sweeteners against sugar and each other in 19 lean people and 12 obese people. The study found people did not overeat after consuming a meal made with stevia instead of sugar. Their blood sugar was lower after a meal made with stevia than after eating a meal with sugar, and eating food with stevia resulted in lower insulin levels than eating either sucrose and aspartame." (Learn more at http://www.livescience.com/39601-stevia-facts-safety.html)
"Sucrose, whose main element is sucralose, is found in Splenda and other sweeteners. In a recent study, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that when non-diabetic, severely obese participants drank sucralose, their blood sugar rose and their insulin levels increased by nearly 20 percent."
Saccharin (found in Sweet N Low) and Aspartame (found in Equal and Nutrisweet) have also been found to negatively affect the body. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stevia-a-safe-natural-alternative-to-sugar-and-artificial-sweeteners-2013-10-22?reflink=MW_news_stmp)
Honey, though it contains vitamins and minerals, is not allowed in our total health challenge because it is can raise your blood sugar and spike insulin.
Maple Syrup, though not listed as a "no" ingredient is also not allowed in our total health challenge because it too like honey will raise your blood sugar. Here's an interesting article about that. (https://authoritynutrition.com/maple-syrup/)
Here is an another article for reference explaining some differences between Stevia, Honey and other sweeteners. (http://bodyecology.com/articles/which_are_good_sweeteners.php)