Xylitol:The Natural Sweetener with Many Health Benefits
November 14, 2012
By Dagmar Bleasdale of Dagmar*s Momsense
“Sugar is sugar.”
Every time I see this deceptive commercial, I wonder how the actor must feel getting paid to tell a total lie: sugar IS NOT sugar, and most people know this, I hope. High-fructose corn syrup is not the same as cane sugar, honey, or molasses.
Making Sense of Sugar and Sweeteners
I’ve recently been looking into all kinds of sweetener options — sugar, artificial sweeteners, and syrups — and even started a discussion about Splenda and Stevia in the Savvy Living community.
I already knew and have written about agave nectar not being a good sweetener alternative, because agave syrup is as bad as high-fructose corn syrup.
In my research, I read posts like “Is Sugar Toxic?,” “Chemical Cuisine – Learn about Food Additives,” HealthyChild.org’s “Which Is Worse: Aspartame Or High-Fructose Corn Syrup?” and “The Sweet Stuff: The Best and Worste of Sweeteners,” and watched Robert Lustig’s lecture “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” that has been watched over 1,350,000 times on YouTube.
I like Stevia, which is an herb, and raw honey because it has many minerals and helps with a sore throat and cough just as well as commercial, food-dyed cough medicine.
But the winner of natural sweeteners is: Xylitol.
Move over, sugar, there is a much better alternative: xylitol seems to be the best option to sweeten food and drinks.
Don’t know what xylitol is? It’s not just another word I can use to teach my preschooler the letter x.
Xylitol is a natural substance found in fibrous vegetables and fruit, corn cobs and various hardwood trees like birch. Xylitol is also is a natural, intermediate product that regularly occurs in our glucose metabolism.
While sugar wreaks havoc on the body, xylitol heals and repairs. It also builds immunity, protects against chronic degenerative disease and has anti-aging benefits.
Xylitol has 40% fewer calories than sugar and can replace sugar in cooking, baking or as a sweetener for beverages. Xylitol also dramatically reduces the incidents of middle ear infections (if kids chew xylitol-flavored chewing gum), it is a perfect sweetener for people with diabetes, and increases your bone density and fights osteoporosis.
My favorite aspect of xylitol is that is helps with tooth decay since my son is prone to cavities. It helps to restore a proper alkaline/acid balance in the mouth and reverses destructive effects of sugar on oral health. It even has the ability to enhance the mineralization of the enamel and can stabilize cavities.
In the last two years, I have put some Biotene mouth wash, which has xylitol in it, on my son’s tooth brush with his tooth paste, and his small cavities have stabilized.
With so many health benefits, xylitol is clearly the winner when it comes to sweeteners.
I suspects we will see it appear in many more products very soon, hopefully replacing chemical, artificial sweeteners for good.
One important note: you can get xylitol in bulk for not much money by now, but that xylitol is processed from corn husks, which could be genetically modified (GMO) and is most likely not organic. Make sure the xylitol you buy is real birch sugar – search for “birch xylitol.”
One of my readers told me about Xylitol USA and I love all their products. I’ve bought their xylitol packs, jams, lollipops, and gum. And they always have some kind of great sale. Need a lot of xylitol? They seem to have the best offer on non-GMO, birch Xylitol made in the US.
Want to learn more about about natural vs. artificial sweeteners? Check out what our blogger network has to say about how to satisfy your sweet tooth:
- 5 Natural & Safe Sugar Alternatives for Baking by Charise of IThoughtIKnewMama.com
- In Search of A Better Sweetener: Alternatives to White Sugar by Betsy of Eco-Novice.com
- Is Baking With Unrefined Sugar a Trick or Treat? by Hilary of AccidentallyGreen.com