The Natural Sweetener: Low Carb Xylitol And Its Benefits
The health and fitness industry has seen the rise of many sugar alternatives, from artificial sweeteners to natural sweeteners and sugar alcohols. One of the most common sugar substitutes is stevia, but have you heard about xylitol? Xylitol is a natural sweetener that has 40% fewer calories than regular sugar and a low glycaemic index, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar levels. That’s good news… because now you don’t have to cut out sweet treats!
Did you know xylitol is also good for oral health? You’ve probably experienced this without realising, from chewing gum! Read on to discover the benefits of using xylitol as a low-carb, keto-friendly natural sweetener for all your low-carb needs:
What is Xylitol?
Before we dive into the good stuff, it’s important to know what xylitol sweetener really is. Xylitol is a type of natural sweetener called sugar alcohol that has a crystalline, granular structure with a sweetness comparable to sugar.
Xylitol naturally occurs in many fruits and vegetables and is also produced by the human body. It is generally sourced from corn cobs or birch trees, but most prefer it from corn due to its production sustainability. It is more cost effective to produce and environmentally friendly. In other words, there is no real need to source from birch trees as the corn is already grown for food, and what was once thought of as waste (the cob) can now be useful.
Let’s take a look at how xylitol came to be. Around 1890, Fisher & Stahe in Germany and Betrand in France isolated the 5-carbon sugar, xylitol. During World War II, Scandinavian countries experienced a shortage of sugar which led to the first widespread use of xylitol. After the war, dental professionals in this area started noticing an improvement in their patients’ oral health. In the 1960s, scientists linked this improvement to the use of xylitol and healthcare professionals began wondering, “what is xylitol’s effect on the human body”?
For the next 30 years, this natural sweetener continued to gain popularity around the world. In the 1990s, scientists began taking notice of xylitol’s effect on upper respiratory health. Now the benefits of xylitol are supported by thousands of clinical studies performed around the world.
What are the benefits of Xylitol?
Xylitol is a type of low-digestible carbohydrate that includes fibre. It has 40% less calories than normal sugar – 10 calories per teaspoon! Xylitol is also a keto-friendly sweetener and will not raise blood sugars due to its low glycemic index. If you’re still unsure, have a read about some of the fantastic health benefits of consuming xylitol, compared to regular sugar.
Does Not Cause Tooth Decay
Unlike sugar, one important advantage of xylitol is that it does not cause dental plaque, which leads to tooth decay. The harmful bacteria in our mouths can use sugar for energy that helps them grow, multiply, and erode our teeth.
However, xylitol cannot be metabolised by these oral bacteria and may actually help prevent tooth decay and the build-up of plaque bacteria on your teeth. So even though it’s also sweet and delicious, chewing xylitol gum is a common and easy preventative method.
Diabetes and Obesity Management
Xylitol does not contain any fructose, which means it does not stimulate the release of insulin. Unlike regular sugar, this natural sweetener does not heavily impact blood sugar levels and is especially beneficial for those looking to reduce sugar intake and/or manage diabetes. This makes it a safe natural sweetener for diabetics. Xylitol also has an extremely low glycemic index of 7, compared to regular sugar which ranges from 60-70. Some studies also demonstrated that it can reduce obesity among adults.
How can I include Xylitol in my diet?
Ready to get started with this natural low carb, keto-friendly sweetener? Simply use it as you would use regular sugar in a 1:1 ratio. That’s right, this natural sweetener is just as fine as regular sugar! You can use it to sweeten your coffee and teas, sprinkle some over your cereal or even bake with it.
Some of our favourite recipe ideas featuring xylitol are:
- Sugar Free Marshmallows – perfect addition to your rocky road or hot chocolate
- Gluten Free Almond Biscuits – inspired by Italian Amaretti Biscuits, these are great with a coffee or tea
- Easy Keto Custard – serve over a delicious pudding or berry crumble
Remember, xylitol should be consumed in moderation as excessive xylitol consumption may lead to digestive side effects such as bloating and diarrhea.
What products do we use Xylitol in?
We love using this over regular sugar in our recipes and baking mixes too! Xylitol is included in our unique natural sweetener blend which is found in the following 2 products:
We also have it as an ingredient available in our pantry range.
Xylitol vs Other Natural Sweeteners
Nowadays, there is a wide variety of natural sweeteners available, and it can be confusing to determine which is right for your specific diet. We hear you, and we’re here to help! Let’s take a quick look at how xylitol compares to some other popular natural sweeteners.
- Xylitol vs maple syrup or honey: A tablespoon of maple syrup contains over 50 calories and 13g of carbs, while honey contains around 55 calories. In comparison, xylitol is low carb and has a very low glycemic index of 7, which means it won’t raise your blood sugar levels drastically.
- Xylitol vs stevia: Stevia is a natural herb, classified as a non-nutritive sweetener which means it has zero calories and is 200 times sweeter than sugar. In comparison, stevia also has a zero glycemic index and additional health benefits such as lowering blood pressure.
- Xylitol vs erythritol: Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol, with a fresh, cooling aftertaste. It has a zero glycemic index and is also considered to be a keto-friendly natural sweetener.
Where can I buy Xylitol?
Whilst not as common as stevia, xylitol can be purchased from some supermarkets (often in the baking aisle), as well as most health food stores. It’s even available online at Amazon, but why go through the hassle of seeking elsewhere? We’ve got you! Buy Xylitol Natural Sweetener. Don’t forget, you can get 10% off your first order when you sign up for our newsletter.
Want to find more Low Carb ingredients?
With the rise in keto recipes and low carb baking, you’ve probably come across many sugar substitutes. Xylitol is a common sugar alcohol with a comparable sweetness with regular sugar and it's been proven to aid in oral health and diabetes management. If you’re curious about other healthy low carb ingredients, read below for our other blogs!
Monk fruit is a small round fruit, resembling a melon, native to southern China. This natural sweetener is made from the fruit’s extract and contains zero calories, zero carbs and a zero glycemic index. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, so less is more. This antioxidant-rich sweetener is on par with stevia!
Cocoa, commonly associated with chocolate, is an unsweetened powder made from cacao beans. Referred to as the “Food of the Gods”, cocoa is high in antioxidants, low carb and suits a range of diets – vegan, ketogenic, gluten-free. With numerous health benefits, cocoa is the perfect ingredient for all your chocolate baked goods!