The crystalline substance looks like sugar; it does not have a particular taste that makes you think it is not sugar. I personally can’t stand stevia: the intense sweetness of stevia puts everyone off in my family.
For baking it is simple to use: you use the same amount of xylitol as if it were sugar.
What is xylitol?
It is a natural sweetener found in various plants and berries. The xylitol we find in store is extracted from Birch trees, or corn cobs mostly. Many of its properties come from the fact it is a Polyol, so alcohol based: for instance blood sugar does not rise quickly after eating xylitol, so it provides energy for the body that lasts. It does not trigger an insulin response immediately just like regular sugar. this is why it is receommned for diabetic condition. In addition contrary to regular sugar it does not increase mouth acidity level causing decay and yeast infection. In fact, it is said to fight decays efficiently. Acidity level in the mpouth rise in the next 30mn following a meal, it is said that chewing xylitol then alkalinizes the mouth preventing decays.
The only draw back is that it can cause bloating if you use more than 30 grams a day. In my family we have never had any bloating problem despite the fact that xylitol is the only sugar we use. Truth being told we are far from using 30g a day: mostly we use it for baking, and we don’t bake everyday.
Glycemic Index of Sweeteners
Please know that there is no official GI chart value in the US. The closest I could find to something official was data gathered on glycemicindex.com owned by the University of Sydney.
For a good definition of the glycemic index check this site. In my own terms I would say that GI measures the blood sugar level after consumption of a particular food in reference to pure glucose. GI can vary according to people, so it would be more accurate to give a range rather than a definite number, especially for fruits as it depends on their ripeness. Please also know that high glycemic foods tend to lower when consumed with proteins.
- • Xylitol 7
- • Organic Agave Nectar 11
- • Barley Malt Syrup 42
- • Maple Syrup 54
- • Honey 62-80
- • White Sugar 60- 80
- • High Fructose Corn Syrup 100
- • Glucose 100
To be fair to stevia I had to look for its GI, all I could find was a GI close to zero. It did not come from the University of Sydney, so you might as well do your own research.
You will note as well that I don’t mention anything about coconut sugar, as I believe that we should avoid using it. Palm trees from which sap is extracted to produce coconut palm sugar will not produce coconuts in the future. It is far more important to preserve the production of coconuts considering all the benefits of the oil, the milk, and the flour. To find out more on that matter please read this article from Tropical Traditions. So it has a considered low glycemic index because it is below 50 (35 to be precise), but it is much higher than xylitol or agave, so if you want the caramelized flavour you get with coconut sugar use organic agave instead.
Usually you want to ingest foods that have a GI below 50 in order to avoid the sudden drop of blood sugar once insulin is released.
Low glycemic foods gradually increase the blood sugar level, and therefore provide energy on a longer period.
This is why xylitol is a fantastic sugar alternative. In addition it will gradually decrease your taste for true sugar: first it is slightly less sweet than sugar, and it does not feed candida (yeast) that is a major cause for sugar cravings. Don’t get me wrong candida Albicans are naturally in the human intestine, along with other bacteria that are present in probiotics. What we want to avoid is an overgrowth of candida that cross the intestine barrier and flow into the bloodstream to invade other organs.
If you want to learn more about xylitol please check this site that gives you detailed information.
Use of xylitol
- to sweeten yogurt, tea, coffee, cereals, just like sugar.
- to bake any cake, crepes, or pancakes
The only thing you can’t do with xylitol is caramel. So if you plan to make an amazing tarte tatin that will spike your blood sugar to the roof after three delicious bites, you must use brown sugar, organic preferably. For those of you who don’t know what is a tarte tatin: it is a delicious French dessert that is called after the Tatin sisters who inadvertandly cooked an apple tart upside down, only to discover how good it was! In France we even add some creme fraiche that is nothing like sour cream, far more fattening :-).