Is Xylitol Really Natural and Safe?
by Ruth Tan
value of only 7, this sugar alcohol has become a popular choice with diabetes or
people with hypoglycaemia. It has minimal effect on blood sugar levels and does not
require insulin to metabolize. Some of the best known sources of this sugar
substitute are berries, mushrooms, and lettuce.

However, even these foods with the highest concentrations contain only a puny
amount of the sugar. For instance, one cup of raspberries contains only less than
one gram of it. As a result, this sugar substitute is commercially produced through
the hydrogenation of wood sugar (zylose) derived from the xylan hemicellulose
polymer found in hardwoods, corn husks, birch trees, oats, nut shells, etc. The whole
chemical process is energy intensive and large scale, thus making this sugar alcohol
ten times pricier than table sugar, sucrose.

Also, I must mention that as much as its manufacturer claims that it's 100% natural
sugar, the way this sweetener has been treated and processed to extract the sugar
crystals surely just doesn't sound as healthy or quite the same as something that
naturally occurs in fruits and vegetable, does it? It's just hard to think of it as a
healthy sugar when it's been so highly processed.

Another famous health claim of this sugar is its ability to kill bacteria and prevent
tooth decay and oral disease. It is also said to help reduce plaque and inhibit existing
cavities from worsening. Like most sugar alcohols, it can produce a mild laxative
effect at high doses. According to a study conducted in 1977, consuming 1.4 ounces
of the sugar alcohol per day will cause diarrhoea in many subjects. Its manufacturer
declared that in doses of larger than 15 grams, which is approximately 3 teaspoons,
the sweetener is not safe for everyone to use. Lab tests revealed that 1.65 grams of
it could cause death in a 100gram rat. A typical piece of xylitol-gum contains 0.7 - 1
gram of xylitol, meaning that about half the amount of the sweetener is needed to
kill a rat. So then, how concerned should one be about consuming this sweetener,
especially if it given in a kid or pet oral health product?

About The Author

Ruth Tan runs the popular website Benefits of Honey which is an immensely rich,
quality resource on honey and its benefits, and a plethora of health-related issues.
Discover the amazing health benefits and all the positive spin-offs super-food honey
can bring to your life and the lives of your loved ones at
Xylitol is actually a 5-carbon sugar
alcohol known more specifically as a
polyalcohol (polyol) and has been in
use since the 1960's. You can find it
in foods for special dietary purposes
and a variety of sugar-free cookies,
candies, mints and chewing gums.

Unlike other synthetic sweeteners
such as sorbitol, lactitol, mannitol,
maltitol, xylitol boosts a natural
flavour and has no after-taste. This
natural sweetener also claims to
facilitate weight loss as it has 40
percent fewer calories than sugar.
Because of its low glycemic index
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