Why don't we hear much about Xylitol?

It has similar sweetness, 60% the calories of household sugar and 25% the carbs, so is Xylitol a kind of Super Sweetener? It just may be, so long as you a) don't eat too much of it, and/or b) feed it to your dog. I think this is why we don't hear so much about it.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, a natural substance with antimicrobial effects. It is a naturally occurring sweetener derived from wood or corn starch, though the conversion process is both extremely technical and expensive. 

Birch is the most famous source of Xylitol, but the most common one for reasons of cost-efficiency and sustainability is corn. Unlike birch trees which take 40-50 years to grow to maturity, corn is easily replenished. Whether from birch, corn or any other source the molecular structure of the processed Xylitol is the same. To quote Xylitol.org, "from the research we have done, there appears to be only two major differences between the two sources: environmental impact and price."

Here is a look at the nutritional information of our 100% Xylitol product produced sustainably from non-GMO corn. It's quite amazing.

The Upside

Unlike regular sugar, Xylitol is scientifically proven to provide a range of health benefits:

  1. Xylitol aids the battle against tooth decay by essentially starving the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria are the cause of harmful acids that create cavities. 
  2. Xylitol also helps your teeth by aiding your ability to digest and use calcium, which is of course used to replenish the enamel on your teeth and bones.
  3. Xylitol helps prevent ear and respiratory infection if used as a nasal wash. With the ear-nose-throat connection, bacteria in the nasal passage are unable to multiply and cause harm further back in your ears or throat.
  4. Xylitol helps diabetics as it does not require insulin to break it down. With 75% less carbohydrates than sugar and 40% less calories, it is a very common sweetener in the diabetic community. 
  5. Xylitol induces the production of saliva which flushes the mouth and helps prevent dry mouth - the leading cause of bad breath.  
  6. Xylitol efficiently stimulates the immune system, digestive system, lipid and bone metabolism, and is often used in treating some diseases that cannot be cured through antibiotics or by surgery. [Emphasis of "some" by us, not the author of the paper.] 

We recommend you to Google these topics and learn more about Xylitol - a potential Super Sweetener that I am sure sugar manufacturers don't want you to know about. 

The Downside 

Laxative Effect - The downside of Xylitol is that if you eat too much you may just be on the receiving end of the laxative effect that comes from overconsumption. While that can be said of many foods, for some people this is a very real thing. 

One study we found helps shed light into how much Xylitol can put you at risk of greater than normal flatulence (or worse), and it would seem a 6kg female would need at least 142g and a 90kg male almost a cup (243g) before negative side effects. That's quite a lot of sweetener, so as with anything - including regular sugar or coffee - moderation is the key.

Cooling Effect - Like most sugar alcohols Xylitol gives a cooling after effect when consumed. This cooling effect comes from the absorption of heat as your saliva breaks down the crystals of Xylitol. It is very real, and for some people it is off putting. Because of this effect we tend to use Xylitol in our tea, coffee or with mint. That said, we don't find the effect to be very profound and in fact we really like the fresh mouth feel. 

Risk to Dogs - This is the big one. Xylitol is used in small doses to treat our pets teeth and gums, but it can very dangerous if eaten by dogs. A canine pancreas overreacts to Xylitol and can cause a sudden and profound drop in blood sugar (known as hypoglycemia). Anyone consuming Xylitol with curious puppies in the house, or who regularly shares their plate with their furry one should take special care.

Here is an article from a New Zealand pet insurance company, and an FAQ post from a New Zealand vet that help shed light on this subject. The bottom line is that you need to treat Xylitol just as you do Chocolate: don't feed it to your pets. 


In our opinion the positives of Xylitol far outweigh the negatives. Chocolate is also bad for our dogs, and we learned not to feed this to them, and I am not convinced the laxative effect is a real issue for most, but for some it is. Actually I think the major reason Xylitol has not been hailed as such a "super sweetener" is more about the name. 

Having lived in Japan where Xylitol chewing gum is popular and the health benefits are well known, we are very happy using Xylitol as our 1-1 sugar substitute, whether in baking (though the argument goes that it doesn't caramelise so well) or in our tea or coffee. 

Sugar Free Food's customers tend to go for Erythritol over Xylitol, or a blend of both like our Classic Blend or Premium Blend, but we are fans of our Xylitol product straight. Allulose is something we will put back on the menu as it has none of the negatives associated with Xylitol that we just talked about. The name is even better!!

Learn more about Xylitol here: https://xylitol.org/. We strongly advise you dig through the internet and find out for yourself. 

Do you think Xylitol a Super Sweetener?