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Fun Facts (And Not-So-Fun Facts) About Xylitol

Updated on May 16, 2011
Xylitol is the main ingredient in Ideal Sweetener, a new sugar alternative.
Xylitol is the main ingredient in Ideal Sweetener, a new sugar alternative.

What Is Xylitol?

German physicist Emil Fischer discovered the all-natural sugar substitute, xylitol, in 1891.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that can be found in a number of different fruits and vegetables, like berries, corn, oats, and mushrooms. It tastes very similar to table sugar and works the same in cooking, but it has about one-third of the calories.

Xylitol has a number of health benefits, but there are also some problems with over-consumption of this sweetener (that's the not-so-fun part of this hub). Read on to find out more.

Xylitol and Diabetes

In the 1960s, xylitol began to be promoted in Europe as a safe alternative to sugar for diabetics.

Because the body absorbs xylitol more slowly than it does sugar, xylitol is not responsible for making blood sugars rise at the same rate. It also does not lead to the same “crash” sugar causes.

Xylitol and Dental Health

In the early 1970s, researchers in Finland noticed that people who consumed xylitol had fewer cavities and healthier mouths. Chewing gum makers began to add it into their recipes to help prevent the tooth decay that occurred from the presence of sugar in chewing gum.

Xylitol has since become a major ingredient in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and pharmaceuticals.

Xylitol and Osteoporosis

Researchers in Finland have also found that xylitol consumption can actually prevent the bone loss that occurs in osteoporosis.

In fact, eating xylitol may actually increase your body's bone density. That's great news for aging women.

Xylitol and Ear Infections

Trident and other xylitol chewing gums have been shown to prevent ear infections.The chewing and swallowing actions are responsible for clearing the ear of excess wax. And xylitol is actually responsible for stopping bacteria from growing in the eustachian tubes that connect the nose and the ear.

I can't wait for my little girl to get old enough to chew gum safely. As often as she gets ear infections, I think I'd better stock up on some right now!

Xylitol and Pregnant Women

Women who are pregnant or nursing may want to eat more xylitol. Xylitol has been shown to reduce the spread of a specific bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, from mother to child by about 80 percent. This effect lasts up to the first two years of the child’s life.

I know, when I was pregnant, I was afraid to eat artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet because of all the chemicals. I wish I had known about xylitol then!

Some Hazards for People and Animals

Eaten in excess (over 65 mg per day), xylitol can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea in humans.

Consumed in large amounts (over 100 mg per day), xylitol can be dangerous to dogs - even fatal. This same effect does not exist for cats, however, or any other animal.

Ideal Sweetener

The main ingredient of this relatively new sugar substitute is xylitol.

Ideal is marketed as a sugar alternative that "looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, and bakes like sugar." And it doesn't have any nasty aftertaste, like NutraSweet. Since I try to do a lot of low-sugar cooking, I'm always interested in sugar substitutes, and Ideal looks like a very promising one indeed.

You can buy Ideal on Amazon if you can't find it in a store near you. Give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Chef Ozzie's Xylitol Cookbook

Sweet Revolution. Cooking Without Sugar.
Sweet Revolution. Cooking Without Sugar.

The official Ideal cookbook. This is a great little book that includes recipes for treats like apple pie, banana nut bread, buttercream frosting, and raspberry lemon muffins.


Chef Ozzie

Don Godleski, aka "Chef Ozzie" is a professional chef and social networking genius.

He is the main promotional power behind Ideal sweetener, touting its benefits all over the Internet television, and other types of media. His book, Sweet Revolution: Cooking Without Sugar, is available now on Amazon.


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    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Hi, RTalloni. Glad you enjoyed it. :-)

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      I see this was posted a year ago. Wish I had seen it then! Interesting read--thanks very much.

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Hi, Wooded. Glad you liked it. Beautiful profile pic, by the way!

    • profile image

      Wooded 6 years ago

      This is very informative. It's such a great product but I had no idea it was dangerous to dogs. Thanks for sharing this!

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Hi, L.L., ltremaine55, and Chatkath. Thanks for reading. Glad you all enjoyed the hub. :-)

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Great information - thanks for sharing this!

    • ltremaine55 profile image

      ltremaine55 6 years ago

      This was very enlightening. I am diabetic (for 6 yrs now) and have yet found meds or dietary restrictions that have helped my blood sugars to stay under control.

      I appreciate your insight.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      This is the sugar substitute I am going to begin using in moderation. And thanks for including its other potential health benefits in addition to lower calories and blood sugar stability.

    • workingmomwm profile image

      Mishael Austin Witty 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      Hi, Alicia. Very true. Thanks for reading!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for a useful and interesting hub. I think that xylitol's health benefits for humans are wonderful, but as you say, xylitol is very dangerous for dogs and all products that contain xylitol need to be kept far away from dogs.