CategoriesHealthy eating

What is xylitol?

What is xylitol?

Ever wondered if there’s a healthier alternative to sugar? More people are realising the negative effects sugar has on their health. Sugar is a major cause of disease in the Western world and is highly addictive. It is well-worth training yourself to eat less sweetened food so that you can enjoy the flavour of natural foods. However, that doesn’t happen straight away for many people and it’s great to have an alternative sweetener on hand for special occasions. This article discusses the benefits of using xylitol instead of sugar.

So what is xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from birch trees, corn and some fruits. Despite the name, sugar alcohol doesn’t contain sugar or the alcoholic beverage! It contains a sugar molecule and an alcohol molecule. Sugar alcohols do not contain fructose or glucose. The natural sugar-free sweeteners I prefer to use are xylitol, mannitol and sorbitol.

The following are benefits of using xylitol in place of sugar:

  1. It looks like regular sugar and has the same sweetness so it can be substituted directly for sugar in cooking and baking.
  2. It doesn’t contain fructose or glucose like most other sweeteners except the sugar alcohols.
  3. It doesn’t spike blood sugar levels.
  4. It is much lower in calories than sugar so it is better for weight loss and maintenance.
  5. It is antibacterial and doesn’t contribute to tooth decay because oral bacteria can’t feed on it like sugar.

The downsides to xylitol are that it can have a laxative effect on some people so use minimally. It is dangerous to dogs so keep anything with xylitol away from them! Make sure your xylitol says GM free as corn is often genetically modified.

Like all sweeteners, even the natural ones, they keep the sugar craving and taste alive. However, when enjoyed in occasional treats, it’s a great alternative to sugar. Xylitol can be purchased online from sites like iherb, as well as in health stores.

Read more about xylitol here.

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