Fun Facts (And Not-So-Fun Facts) About Xylitol
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.
Buy Ideal in White, Brown, and Confectioner's Form
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
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.
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.