Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, and it is produced by the human body during normal metabolism. It has the same sweetness as sucrose but only 2/3 of the calories. It dissolves quickly, produces a cooling sensation in the mouth, and has no unpleasant aftertaste.
Xylitol is currently approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals, and oral health products in more than 35 countries. It is used in foods like chewing gum, gum drops, and hard candy, as well as pharmaceuticals and oral health products like throat lozenges, cough syrups, children’s chewable multivitamins, toothpastes, and mouthwashes. In the US, xylitol is approved as a direct food additive for use in foods for special dietary uses (e.g.diabetic candies).
In the body, xylitol is an intermediate formed during the formation of xylulose. Ingested xylitol is also converted to xylulose. Xylulose then enters the pentose-phosphate cycle of carbohydrate metabolism. This is a normal metabolic component of human energy production.
Benefits of Xylitol
- Good taste with no unpleasant aftertaste
- Helps reduce the development of dental caries
- Reduces plaque formation
- Increases salivary flow to aid in the repair of damaged tooth enamel
- Provides 1/3 fewer calories than sugar (sucrose, fructose, or glucose)
- Useful as an alternative to sugar for people with diabetes (on the advice of a health care provider)