Q: What is Xylitol?
A: If you haven’t yet tried xylitol you are missing out on a low-impact, natural sugar alternative with a plethora of health benefits. Xylitol is categorized as a “sugar alcohol.” Sugar alcohols are white, water soluble solids which occur naturally in various foods (fruits, vegetables, sugar cane, oats and birch, to name a few). Xylitol is known to match sugar in sweetness while providing 1/3 less calories per serving. Additionally, xylitol is metabolized slowly and is only partially absorbed by the body. What is not utilized acts like a dietary fiber and is passed through as waste.
Q: What are the benefits of using xylitol?
A: The most obvious benefit of xylitol is that it tastes awesome! On a serious note, xylitol is likely the closest in taste to sugar of all natural sweeteners. It has less calories than sugar; and because it’s not fully absorbed by the body, it’s low on the glycemic index (xylitol ranks 7 versus sucrose at 100). This makes xylitol an excellent sweetener for diabetics.
Xylitol is also well known for its positive influence on dental health. Harmful bacteria in the mouth are starved in the presence of xylitol. This allows teeth to re-mineralize with much less interruption than normal. Through stimulation of saliva production, xylitol helps to combat the acidic environment created by bacteria in dental plaque. It curbs your sweet tooth, barely impacts your blood sugar levels and is good for your teeth. Some things are too good to be true, but xylitol is the exception!
Q: How do I use Xylitol?
A: Xylitol comes in many forms and the fact that it’s so delicious makes it very easy to consume. It’s commonly found in gum, toothpaste and mouthwash. Xylitol is even used as an ingredient in a top-selling nasal spray. But perhaps one of the best — and tastiest — uses for pure xylitol crystals is to bake up diet-friendly desserts like the one below.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Xylitol can be extremely dangerous for dogs, so it’s important to keep anything containing xylitol (including sugar-free gum and candy) completely OUT of reach of your pets.
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars
Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except oats and chocolate chips. Melt over medium heat until smooth. In a separate bowl, add oats and chocolate chips. Pour melted mixture over oats and chocolate chips. Stir softly and spread mixture evenly into baking dish. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Cut into bars and eat!