If you have questions about xylitol, this post is for you! Xylitol is a natural product that has a lot of misconceptions surrounding it… but we want to share why we like it and share the great benefits it can have.
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol found in the fiber of plants and fruit. It can commonly be extracted from certain tree barks, corn husks, and mushrooms. It is a sweet sugar substitute with almost a third of the calorie content of sugar. In appearance, it’s white with small crystals that are slightly larger than sugar. Because xylitol is white, has no aftertaste and has a tasty sweet flavor, it’s probably one of the most natural “sugar-like” substitutes.
Many people first see xylitol associated with sugar free gums and candies. This may be where a lot of misconceptions stem from because most “sugar-free” products use nasty chemicals! But xylitol is non-toxic and very safe for consumption. However, it is unsafe for dogs. And those who are new to the sweetener should introduce it to their diets slowly, as it can upset the stomach if eaten in excess.
Here is a great link we found that shares more information about xylitol.
Why do we love it?
We love that xylitol looks and taste likes sugar! It has a lower calorie count than many other sweeteners and when digested, doesn’t raise blood sugar the way sugar does. This makes it safe for diabetics and great for weight loss. Xylitol is popular in gums and candy products because of its amazing dental benefits. It has been known to kill plaque and fight cavities! It has also been proven to actually help rebuild tooth enamel and promote good overall healthy teeth and gums.
As with stevia, xylitol is acceptable for Candida diets. This sweetener was a life saver for our family when on such a strict diet. But in addition to that, it is the only sweetener that actually fights Candida and helps kill yeast infections! Continuing to include a bit of xylitol in the diet can help control yeast and candida growths once infections are cleansed.
So why are some people against it? First, it is a sugar alcohol, and people have different reasoning’s for avoiding them. Many people have also found xylitol to upset their stomach if eaten in excess. Using a cup of it in a recipe usually equates to only a little bit per serving, so using it sparingly helps avoid any negative side effects.
The other reason why some people may dislike xylitol is its unstable properties in baked goods. It won’t caramelize like sugar will, so it can feel a little limiting when baking. Also, once the end product is baked, the sweetness of the xylitol increases to create a very “cool” flavor after about a day. We are not quite sure why it does this and have only found this to be true for baked desserts made only with xylitol, (it doesn’t have this effect on ice creams or puddings or treats made with a few different sweeteners).
How we use it:
Xylitol is a fantastic sweetener, but for best results, we use it in some dishes and avoid it in others. It is great for drinks and sauces and helps create that authentic white sugar look. It dissolves fabulously and gives a great sweet flavor. And it is wonderful when combined with other sweeteners. When heated, it melts to a liquid and is unable to caramelize which is the primary reason we use it in combination with other natural sweeteners.
Here are some ideas of our favorite treats to enjoy xylitol in:
In combination with other sweeteners:
Where to buy it:
We have found xylitol at most natural or health food stores. Whole Foods and Good Earth are examples of stores that always carry it. We love this product at amazon. We usually prefer to buy it online, but we have also found places to buy in bulk. Check out sellers online or around you to find great deals. Since we typically combine it with other sweeteners or don’t use a lot of it in a recipe, it lasts a long time!
Do you have any favorite ways to enjoy xylitol? Please share!