The Surprising Uses & Benefits of Xylitol

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

You’ve probably heard about xylitol. After all, it seems the low-cal sugar substitute is popping up everywhere these days.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, or polyalcohol, that’s made from the bark of birch trees or from a plant fiber called xylan. It’s similar in appearance to—and roughly as sweet as—sucrose (a.k.a. table sugar). But xylitol has just 2.4 calories per gram, compared to table sugar’s 4 calories per gram, which means that it delivers an equally sweet taste with about one-third fewer calories.

The Surprising Benefits & Uses of Xylitol

Unlike some other sugar substitutes (e.g., aspartame, saccharin), xylitol is 100% natural. Scan the nutrition label and see for yourself—there’s nothing artificial about the sweet substance, which is found in low concentrations in many fruits and veggies. In fact, we even produce small amounts of xylitol during metabolism.

Why are folks so sweet on xylitol?

As you’re likely aware, table sugar doesn’t contain any essential nutrients. And consuming too much of the stuff can have negative health effects ranging from tooth decay to obesity, insulin resistance and even type II diabetes. Xylitol may look and taste like table sugar, but it isn’t table sugar.

Many people shy away from sugar substitutes, insisting that they taste fake or artificial. But one of xylitol’s greatest claims to fame is its sweet, natural flavor with no unpleasant aftertaste.

The glycemic index measures how quickly various foods raise a person’s blood sugar. Table sugar has a glycemic index of 60 to 70. But xylitol has an index of just seven, making it a great alternative for individuals adhering to a low-glycemic diet.

Xylitol also appears to have some dental benefits, and you’ll find the ingredient in a variety of oral care products.

Get to know xylitol.

Ready to get up close and personal with this popular sugar substitute? Here are a few suggestions for incorporating xylitol in your dietary and oral routines.

  • For cooking: Replace table sugar with Vitacost Xylitol in equal amounts. Prepare all of your favorite, tried-and-true recipes using this low-calorie, heat-stable sweetener and your dinner guests will never even realize that you omitted the sugar!
  • For sugar cravings: Satisfy your sweet tooth with candies that contain xylitol, like Xlear SparX® with 100% Xylitol Fruit. These delicious drops meet your need for sweet without increasing your daily sugar intake.
  • For teeth cleaning: Polish your pearly whites with a paste containing xylitol, like Xlear Spry Dental Defense Toothpaste, which has no artificial flavors or fluoride. For children over three months, try Xlear Spry Kids Original Tooth Gel. Have we mentioned that xylitol has a pleasant cooling and moisturizing effect?!
  • For breath freshening: Here’s something to chew on… Breath-freshening products that contain sugar can actually promote tooth decay. Instead opt for ones that contain xylitol, like all-natural Vitacost Xylitol Mints, Xlear Spry Cool Mint Dental Defense Oral Rinse, Xlear Spry Cinnamon Dental Defense Gum or Xlear Spry Rain Oral Mist Spray.
  • For sinus relief: Breathe easy with the help of xylitol! Reduce congestion and moisturize your nasal passages twice daily with a nasal spray containing xylitol,like Xlear All-Natural Saline Spray.