These days people are more aware than ever of the dangers associated with refined sugar. This is why there has been a surge in the range of alternative products used to sweeten foods, that aren't damaging to your health - one of these is xylitol. Is it easy to get used to the flavour? Can it be used for cooking? Does it sweeten foods just like regular sugar? Continue reading to find out!
Xylitol is a very common substitute for refined sugar. It is popular with consumers because of its pleasant taste, and also because when it is used in small quantities, it has very few calories. In this guide, we will tell you about the wide-range of benefits you can expect from adding xylitol to your diet.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Xylitol Products
- 4 Buyer's Guide: Everything You Should Know About Xylitol
- 4.1 What is xylitol exactly?
- 4.2 What does it mean when we hear that xylitol is a "sugar alcohol"?
- 4.3 What is the difference between xylitol and regular sugar?
- 4.4 Is xylitol better than stevia?
- 4.5 What is xylitol used for?
- 4.6 Can xylitol be cooked?
- 4.7 Why can't xylitol be used in recipes that contain yeast?
- 4.8 What is the daily recommended intake of xylitol?
- 4.9 What are the benefits of xylitol for oral health?
- 4.10 How is xylitol used as a mouthwash?
- 4.11 Does xylitol help to fight against Candida infection?
- 4.12 Does xylitol really help with weight loss?
- 4.13 What contraindications does xylitol have?
- 4.14 Does the consumption of xylitol produce any adverse reactions?
- 5 What types of xylitol exist and which one is the best for me?
- 6 Shopping Criteria
- 7 Summary
- Xylitol is a 100% natural sweetener that is obtained from birch trees in Finland. It is an excellent substitute for common sugar and artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, cyclamate and acesulfame K.
- As a sweetener xylitol is just as potent as regular sugar, but with only 40% of the calories. Although it contains some simple carbohydrates, it does not cause cavities, and actually prevents the buildup of plaque and bad breath.
- Xylitol is especially recommended for diabetics as it has a low glycemic index. This means that it will not cause a fast spike in the blood sugar level.
Our Selection: The Best Xylitol Products
Xylitol is a natural sweetener which is extracted from the wood of birch trees in Finland. However, some manufacturers mix it with other compounds or artificial sweeteners - making it a less healthy option. In this section we feature the five best xylitol products available on the market right now.
Buyer's Guide: Everything You Should Know About Xylitol
If you have never tried xylitol, it's only normal that you would have many questions about its use, flavour and properties. Even some people who regularly consume this sweetener are not aware of all of its benefits and the different ways of using it. Pay careful attention to the information presented in the following section, and you will learn more about this fantastic superfood.
What is xylitol exactly?
Even though xylitol is a 100% natural sweetener and free of artificial additives, chemicals are used in order to extract it from bark. Otherwise, it is not possible to obtain xylitol from birch wood. The same is true for other healthy sweeteners, such as stevia for example.
What does it mean when we hear that xylitol is a "sugar alcohol"?
Additionally, the body does not fully assimilate alcoholic sugars, so as a result they contain fewer calories than regular sugar. Lastly, these compounds are not fermented by bacteria in the mouth and do not become acidic.
What is the difference between xylitol and regular sugar?
Another big difference between xylitol and sucrose is where they rank on the glycemic index (GI). This indicator is super important for people suffering from diabetes. It measures the changes in glucose levels (amount of sugar in the blood) produced by a certain food that contains carbohydrates. If a food possesses a high GI, it will cause a rapid spike in the levels of sugar in the blood.
Regular sugar (also known as sucrose) has a high glycemic index of 70, while the GI of xylitol is only 7. This is very low and means that it will not cause sudden increases in the level of blood sugar. This makes xylitol the perfect sweetener for diabetics, although if consumed in excessive amounts it can cause intestinal discomfort.
Xylitol also helps to regulate weight control, because it has 40% fewer calories than contained in regular sugar. While xylitol provides 2.4 calories per gram, sucrose provides 4 calories per gram. A teaspoon of xylitol contains 12 calories, compared to a teaspoon of regular sugar which contains 20 calories.
Is xylitol better than stevia?
The biggest factor that makes xylitol better than stevia is the taste. Xylitol tastes almost exactly the same as refined sugar. This has made it very popular with consumers. Another reason why people love xylitol is because it has the ability to caramelise after being heated for several minutes, while stevia does not caramelise at all.
Another benefit of xylitol is that it is used in the same quantity as regular sugar, since it has the same sweetening potency. Stevia, on the other hand, has a much higher sweetening potency. As a result, stevia drinks or preparations may become too sweet, or taste very different to those made with regular sugar.
It's important to note that although stevia does not harm teeth, it does not possess the same protective qualities for oral health as xylitol. However, stevia rarely causes digestive discomfort, while xylitol (in amounts greater than 50 grams per day) has a laxative effect.
|Xylitol)||Stevia||Regular sugar (sucrose)|
|Glycemic index (GI)||7||0||70|
|Taste||Sweet, almost identical to regular sugar||Sweet, although it usually leaves a bitter taste in the mouth||Sweet, as is a characteristic of refined sugar|
|Calories (per 100 grams)||240 calories||0 calories||400 calories|
|Appearance||Granulated||Granulated, liquid, tablets||Granulated, in cubes|
|Suitable for cooking?||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Does it caramelise?||Yes||No||Yes|
|Effect on dental health||Prevents cavities. Reduces the buildup of bacterial plaque in teeth and gums. Helps to regenerate dental enamel. Helps to reduce inflammation of the gums and fights bad breath.||Has no effect on the development of cavities, or on the accumulation of bacterial plaque on teeth and gums.||It is cariogenic, meaning that it causes the apparition of dental cavities. Damages tooth enamel and is responsible for the buildup of bacterial plaque. Increases the risk of gingivitis (inflammation and bleeding of the gums).|
|Effect on blood sugar level||Does not increase blood sugar level||Does not increase blood sugar level||Causes rapid increases in blood sugar level|
What is xylitol used for?
Can xylitol be cooked?
Why can't xylitol be used in recipes that contain yeast?
What is the daily recommended intake of xylitol?
What are the benefits of xylitol for oral health?
In addition, regular consumption of xylitol, or xylitol-based gum, candy or mouthwash produces the following benefits:
- Regeneration of dental enamel
- Lower incidence of halitosis (bad breath)
- Fights gingivitis (inflammation and bleeding of the gums)
How is xylitol used as a mouthwash?
Does xylitol help to fight against Candida infection?
Does xylitol really help with weight loss?
“Sugar alcohols are a popular choice for weight loss due to their reduced calorie content, and for diabetics due to their low glycemic index. There’s not nearly as much research on the metabolic effects of sugar alcohols as there is on artificial sweeteners, but the evidence we have suggests that sugar alcohols are at least harmless, and possibly beneficial.”.
Xylitol is beneficial for diabetics because it does not increase the blood insulin level. In contrast, common sugar increases both glycemia and insulinemia. Excess insulin causes carbohydrates to be converted into fat, leading to weight gain and an increase in the percentage of body fat.
What contraindications does xylitol have?
Does the consumption of xylitol produce any adverse reactions?
What types of xylitol exist and which one is the best for me?
Xylitol is 100% natural and sourced from Finnish birch trees. As a sweetener, it is sold under the name of birch sugar or xylitol. However, there are other products containing xylitol on the market that do not have an alimentary application. Here is a summary of the difference between these products:
- Xylitol (Alimentary use)
- Xylitol (Non-alimentary use)
Xylitol for alimentary applications (as a sugar substitute)
Xylitol that is used as a replacement for common sugar is designed to add sweetness to drinks, infusions, baked goods and desserts. It comes in the form of a crystalline, granulated powder. It looks very similar to refined sugar, and is used in the same way. Xylitol in liquid or tablet form is not available on the market.
Xylitol for non-alimentary applications
Although all xylitol products might look the same, they are not. It's true that the flavour, appearance and sweetening potency are often quite similar from one brand to another. However, there are other factors that you should consider before making your purchase, so that you choose the product that is perfect for you:
Source of the Product
As we mentioned earlier, xylitol can also be sourced from corn. In general, the corn from which this compound is obtained is genetically modified. If you do not consume GM products or have a corn allergy, you have to buy xylitol extracted from birch, which is the original form of birch sugar.
Presence or Absence of Gluten
As a general rule, gluten-free products of any type are often more expensive. Therefore, if you are not celiac or gluten intolerant, you can simply purchase any brand of xylitol. On the other hand, if you suffer from celiac disease, you need to carefully check that the product you are purchasing is certified as gluten-free.
During processing and packaging, xylitol can be contaminated with traces of soy, nuts, sesame or other allergens. For this reason, if you are allergic to any of these foods, you should check the label of the product for a seal that guarantees that the product is free of allergens.
Generally, xylitol should be consumed within 6 months after opening the container. So if you are only going to use it as a sweetener for drinks and smoothies, it is a better idea to buy it in smaller quantities or to opt for sachets. This way you will avoid waste and save money too.
If you had never heard about xylitol, surely everything you have read in this guide about this superfood has been a pleasant surprise. Or possibly you discovered something new about this natural sweetener. The simple fact is that xylitol is one of the best substitutes for regular sugar.
Xylitol fights a wide-range of diseases, while simultaneously protecting oral health. Additionally, it can be used in a lots of different types of drinks, smoothies and sweet foods.
If you liked this article about Xylitol, share it so that more people can improve their health, while sweetening their meals at the same time.
(Source of featured image: Koosen: 45651542/ 123rf.com)