Some Amazing Facts about Xylitol
This particular type of sugar alternative is actually a sugar itself in that it is found in many fibers from fruits and vegetables including corn husks, berries, oats and even mushrooms. Xylitol is specifically a sugar alcohol and although it has a lower caloric content than sucrose it also has several well documented healthful benefits. While it is not usually sold specifically as a sugar substitute by itself, it is used in several products as a sweetener that has approximately 2/3 the caloric content as sucrose.
Although Xylitol is used as one of the purportedly low-calorie sugar alternatives it is not particularly low in calories as some would have you believe. The difference is in the way those calories are metabolized. While Xylitol has 9.6 calories to 15 for sucrose, in a teaspoonful, Xylitol does not have the impact on blood sugar as sucrose which makes it safer for diabetics. Also, it has a low glycemic index which makes it a better sweetener for those wishing to take off a few pounds.
Another of the remarkable benefits of Xylitol is the fact that it has several medical applications. In dental care Xylitol is often used in toothpastes because it has cavity fighting power and the ability to reduce dental plaque. Because it is absorbed slower than sucrose it is beneficial to those with diabetes and has not been found to promote hyperglycemia which would result from a poor insulin response. Some research suggests that Xylitol can aid in the treatment of osteoporosis while other studies have found that Xylitol assists in treating upper respiratory and ear infections.
Safety & Toxicity
Xylitol is generally recognized as safe to ingest and it is even found to be safe for use in pregnant women as an additive in foods as long as the laxation threshold has not been reached. Even so, before chewing gum or eating foods sweetened with Xylitol it is always advisable for pregnant women to consult with their obstetrician. One side effect that has been found is only common among people who have gone beyond the amount of sweetener which can be eaten, before stomach distress sets in. Nonetheless it is better tolerated than such sugar alternatives such as sorbitol.
Of course it doesn’t sound logical to feed a dog sweetened foods but caution is still used in regards to dogs and Xylitol. There have been some studies which indicate that dogs should not ingest large quantities of Xylitol. The dogs could end up having dangerously low levels of blood sugar which may result in loss of coordination, collapse and in some, seizures. However, other studies, such as those by the World Health Organization which were much longer in duration found no such results at even higher levels.
Because of the healthful benefits of Xylitol, many people prefer this sugar alternative above other natural products. It is by far safer than its chemical counterparts and even though it is not exactly low in calories, Xylitol is not absorbed in the same way as sugar. Foods and beverages sweetened with this sugar alcohol are consumed around the world with few reports of side effects if used as directed at safe levels.