Xylitol vs Sugar, when it comes to satisfying our sweet tooth, sugar has long been the go-to choice, but, with increasing awareness about the negative health effects of sugar consumption, and just how much sugar is being added to our everyday foods, alternative natural sugar free sweeteners have gained popularity. One such sweetener is xylitol , a “wood sugar” found naturally in the fibre of berries and other fruit and some vegetables. It is extracted from the woody fibre of the cob of the corn and birch trees, looks and tastes sweet like sugar and is used for cooking and in many food and health products. Our bodies can also produce up to 15g of xylitol daily during normal metabolism.
In this article we will compare the health benefits of xylitol compared to sugar, providing you with valuable insights to make informed choices.
Firstly, let’s examine the impact of sugar on our health. Sugar, particularly refined white sugar, is widely known for its high caloric content and lack of nutritional value. Sugar causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels, a sudden surge in blood glucose, followed shortly by an energy crash and increased hunger. This can lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to fatigue and laying down of fatty tissue especially around the stomach area. It is widely recognised that consuming excessive amounts of sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity.
Sugar also causes early skin ageing, as it promotes glycation in the skin, which hardens elastin and collagen, forming wrinkles and brittle skin. General poor skin health and related health issues such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also attributed to excessive sugar intake. We are all aware that sugar consumption is directly linked to dental problems, including tooth decay and cavities.
Xylitol, on the other hand, offers a potential solution to some of these health concerns.
One of the most important health benefits of xylitol is that is has a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Unlike sugar which has a glycaemic index of 68, and causes rapid spikes in blood glucose, xylitol has an extremely low glycemic index of just 7. This means it does not cause a spike in blood sugar or insulin levels making it a useful sugar alternative for those with type 2 diabetes. It also has the additional benefit of reducing sugar cravings which can also assist with weight loss.
Another key advantage of xylitol is that is has a lower caloric content. With around 40% fewer calories than sugar, xylitol can be a suitable option for those looking to reduce their overall calorie intake. This makes it an attractive choice for individuals trying to manage their weight and still have the occasional sweet treat. The perfect all natural sugar free sweetener for cookies, cakes and desserts, but be aware that the other ingredients in your recipes will have calories even if they are healthy. Sweet treats are always eaten in moderation
Xylitol also has a positive impact on dental health. Unlike sugar, which promotes the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, xylitol has been shown to have anti-bacterial properties. Bacteria are unable to replicate and grow in its presence. Xylitol encourages the flow of saliva, and inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium responsible for tooth decay, thereby reducing the risk of cavities and promoting better oral hygiene. Xylitol is often used as an ingredient in chewing gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash for this very reason.
So while sugar has long been the traditional sweetener of choice, times have changed, xylitol offers a wide range of health benefits and serves as an excellent all natural sugar alternative. With its low calorie content, low GI resulting in a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, and the positive effects on dental health, xylitol provides a compelling option for those seeking to make healthier dietary choices.
Xylitol & Dogs
While xylitol has many health benefits for humans, please be aware it is highly toxic for dogs and must not be given to them in any form. Do not leave any chewing gum , lollies or food sweetened with xylitol within their reach.