I use Xylitol as a sugar alternative in the majority of my recipes for many reasons. Xylitol is naturally produced with the body, approximately 15 grams are produced through the normal daily metabolic processes. Xylitol is also found in many foods which are probably already part of your diet such as raspberries, strawberries, cauliflower, lettuce and chicory.
Xylitol is classified as a sugar-alcohol, but don’t worry it isn’t going to make you tipsy! Unlike sugar, xylitol does not significantly increase blood sugar and contains around one third of the total calories of sugar. Xylitol can be used almost weight-for-weight to replace sugar in recipes and has no after taste, so will not affect the taste of your delicious recipes!
High intakes of refined sugar contributes to a myriad of health problems including weight gain, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, dental decay, overgrowth of pathogens in the digestive tract, poor immune function, the list goes on and on. In contrast, research has found many health benefits from xylitol! It has shown to reduce the growth of many pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori (responsible for stomach ulcers), Streptococcus mutans (involved in tooth decay) and Streptococcus pneumonia (causes middle ear infections). Xylitol may also enhance metabolism and weight loss via increasing thermogenesis. Other research indicates xylitol may be of benefit to bone health, maintaining bone density and facilitating calcium absorption.
Xylitol has been shown to have no known toxicity to humans. Some sugar alcohols in particular sorbitol, can upset the digestive tract. Xylitol has little effect, even when ingested in large quantities (500 grams).
If you are baking any recipes that require the addition of yeast or culture to raise dough, be aware that the structure of xylitol interferes with yeast and the ability to digest sugar. The end result is no rising of your dough and a big fail for your recipe! You will need to choose an alternative for these recipes.
One foot note for xylitol if you own a dog. Xylitol can rapidly cause low blood sugar and subsequent seizures which may be fatal in dogs. So best to keep it far out of reach of pets and do not feed dogs any food you have made which contains xylitol.
Some sugar alternatives may not be pure xylitol and may be mixed with Stevia, erythritol, mannitol or maltitol. These may have an after taste which can affect the taste of your food and may possibly upset the digestive tract. Try and use pure xylitol wherever possible.