Xylitol – Sugar Free Sweetener
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruit and vegetables and is used as a substitute for table sugar. Don’t let the word ‘alcohol’ put you off as it does not contain ethanol and does not have an effect on the brain and the central nervous system.
Xylitol is considered to be a ‘sugar free’ option although it does contain carbohydrates and calories. It’s considered to be as sweet as table sugar (sucrose) but contains less calories.
- Calories in 1 Teaspoon of sugar: 15 calories
- Calories in 1 Teaspoon of Xylitol: 9.6 calories
Xylitol is not metabolised by oral bacteria which means it does not contribute to tooth decay the way that normal sugar does. Xylitol actually has the opposite impact on teeth in that it protects them from decay and according to research, it also helps remineralise the deeper layers of enamel. This is one of the reasons why it’s commonly used in chewing gum.
It has a very low Glycemic Index (GI) which means it has a low impact on blood sugar levels and therefore insulin production.
- Table sugar: GI of 65
- Xylitol: GI of 7
The higher the GI number the faster the glucose is absorbed into the blood stream. Sugar’s GI of 65 means it’s absorbed fairly quickly into the blood stream leading to a sugar rush and a spike of insulin in the blood. Xylitol is absorbed slower (much slower!) which makes a great alternative for diabetic patients who need to keep their blood glucose under control.
Xylitol is toxic to dogs so if you use it in your desserts, baked goods or other recipes, do not feed any of it to your dog!
I like using xylitol as a sugar free substitute because it tastes a lot more like sugar compared to other sweeteners I have tried. Although Stevia has zero calories and carbs, I find that it has a bitter aftertaste that I personally don’t like. Many don’t mind or even notice it but to me it’s quite strong, so I prefer using Xylitol or a combination of the two.
Here’s some recipes of mine where I use Xylitol instead of sugar: