A Little Known Sugar Substiture – Xylitol

Xylitol differs from other sugar substitutes in that it is natural and not chemically produced and it looks and tastes like sugar.

By: Anita Oksa

One of the best sugar substitute products is xylitol which is essentially a sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables as well as some hardwood trees. It is used as a natural sweetener for many confectionary items, baked goods, jams sauces and just as a sugar replacement for example in your coffee. It differs from other sugar substitutes in that it is natural and not chemically produced and it looks and tastes like sugar.

If you need to have a sugar substitute for medical reasons, then xylitol offers many benefits. Once ingested it is slowly metabolized so there won’t be a spike in your blood sugar level. This is an excellent product for a diabetic. The daily recommended intake can vary by person and medical condition. Always consult your physician first.

Regular sugar has 4 calories per gram as opposed to xylitol’s 2.4grams and it has 75% fewer carbohydrates. It is low on the Glycemic Index, a scale measuring how quickly carbohydrates are converted to glucose.

There are several benefits for oral health. Xylitol is non fermentable in the mouth reducing the risk of acid production which can harm the enamel. It has been shown in studies to reduce plaque production and also dental cavities.

There is scientific interest in the relationship between xylitol and bone health. It promotes intestinal calcium absorption hopefully aiding in deterring the progression of osteoporosis.

Xylitol regained popularity in Finland during World War II. It had been in use since the early 1900’s and was derived from birch trees. There was a severe sugar shortage and in looking for an alternative, the country returned to xylitol which had been used in past years. Finland went on to be in the forefront advocating xylitol in place of sugar in candies and gums. The country was the first to advocate preventative oral hygiene and care instead of waiting for needed and costly procedures. Products made of xylitol in Finland are readily available.

The recommended amount of sugar ( added to your diet) is approximately 37.5 grams or 9 tsp. daily for a man and 25 grams or 6 tsp. daily for a woman. This amount is over and above your diet of regular meals of protein, vegetables and fruit and which don’t have added sugar. Your maximum is not very much when you consider that at a can of soda pop has about 39 grams of sugars or 10 tsp. of sugar.

Intake of too much sugar is a health risk. If you regularly consume more than is acceptable, consider replacing the sugar with xylitol.

While xylitol is safe for adults,there is a possibility of gastro-intestinal discomfort when eaten in large quantities. Warning for dog owners: It is extremely toxic to dogs but not humans.

There are several brands of xylitol which are made from sources in North America or abroad. It is recommended that you research those products and determine which one is optimal for your health needs.

About the Author:
Anita is a Travel Consultant who for may years worked for Air New Zealand. Now she enjoys writing for blogs and sharing her travel experiences. She lives in Vancouver Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat named Gaston. You can contact Anita at: gaston.and.lily@gmail.com.

Photo: Kyle Lam