Xylitol Sweetener

Xylitol sweetener is made from the distillation of fibrous plants.

Most often it's made from birch trees or corn cobs/husks.

It's been on the market for decades and is most commonly used in chewing gum, mints and candies to help prevent cavities and periodontal disease.

xylitol sweetener

I do like the chewing gums made with it, but I'm not someone who uses it in my cooking. It's popular for diabetic recipes and low carbohydrate recipes where traditional sweeteners are not an option.

Xylitol sweetener works well for a number of recipes where granulated sugar is called for. One exception is yeasted dough recipes, which wouldn't rise properly due to the lack of real sugars.

Although the finished products are very similar, if you're going to cook with it, I'd recommend using birch xylitol, it's more expensive but in general is considered to be a higher quality than the corn derived products.

Birch xylitol is made from natural (usually "organically grown") hardwood trees. Corn xylitol is somewhat cheaper but is often made from genetically modified (GMO) corn, and is often produced in countries where the quality control and treatment of the workers are not always up to the standards we'd want to support.

Xylitol sweetener is considered safe for diabetics and low carb diets, when used in moderation, as it contains only a quarter of the carbohydrates found in sugar, and is not easily converted into fat in the body.

It is considered safe for pregnancy, nursing moms, and for children as well. I remember my mom giving us chewing gum when I was little, called Xylifresh, which was indeed made with xylitol. Now there are a number of chewing gums and toothpastes on the market using xylitol.

Xylitol is  a FODMAP ("Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols"), a short chain carbohydrate that can cause digestive upset for people with IBS and other digestive disorders. This is because they are not readily absorbed and are then fermented by intestinal bacteria creating gases including hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane.

Read about FODMAPs on Wikipedia.

The following information is quoted from a dentistry website (yourdentistryguide.com):

Xylitol serves many important functions for oral and general health. These include the following:

  • Xylitol's antimicrobial properties help prevent tooth decay by inhibiting bacteria, particularly Streptococcus mutans (the oral bacteria that causes cavities) and plaque from sticking to teeth.
  • Regular use of xylitol by mothers reduces the transmission of Streptococcus mutans to children by up to 80 percent during the first two years.
  • Xylitol enhances mineral absorption in tooth enamel, increasing its strength.
  • Consistently using small amounts of xylitol stimulates saliva flow and increases saliva's buffering capacity and protective factors. Increased saliva production is especially important for people suffering from dry mouth (xerostomia) due to illness, aging or drug side effects.
  • Supplemental use of xylitol, in combination with other dental therapies, can reduce the incidence of new tooth decay and arrest existing dental caries.
  • Chewing xylitol-sweetened gum can help prevent ear infections; the act of chewing/swallowing helps to remove earwax and clear the middle ear (between the eardrum and cochlea), while the presence of xylitol prevents the growth and attachment of bacteria in the Eustachian tubes (tubes that connect the nose and ear).
  • Using a xylitol nasal spray can significantly reduce the incidence of sinus infections, allergies and asthma.

Xylitol Safety

Xylitol Recipes

Xylitol Sweetener or Stevia Sweetener, which one is better for you?

What About Agave?

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