Why Xylitol is a Good Keto Sugar-Free Sweetener
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I recently bought myself an ice cream maker (for an occasional low-carb treat). Obviously, this meant I needed to find a sugar substitute I enjoyed. The problem? I don’t love the aftertaste of most sugar replacements. Thankfully, I discovered Xylitol (Xylo Sweet), and I’m pretty sure I’m in true, sweet, love.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a plant-based sweetener that’s typically created from hardwoods like birch or from corn cobs. One gram of xylitol contains only 2.4 calories and has a glycemic index of only 7, so it’s often used in chewing gum, toothpaste, and sugar-free sweets. Because it’s absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream, studies suggest a negligible effect on blood sugar.
What are the benefits of xylitol?
- Texture. Xylitol is granular and feels like real sugar.
- No aftertaste. I’m not a fan of Stevia or the cooling effect of erythritol. Xylitol doesn’t create that problem for me.
- 1:1 measuring. Xylo Sweet (specifically) can be measured equal to sugar in standard recipes. That said, I typically use 3/4 of whatever a recipe calls for (because xylitol is so sweet).
- Tooth health. Because xylitol is a nonfermentable sugar alcohol, studies suggest xylitol users may enjoy improved mouth health. (Take that, dentist bill!)
- Antibacterial. Xylitol is suggested to inhibit bacterial growth. It’s also been considered effective in treating Candida Albicans yeast overgrowth, as well as harmful gut bacteria H. Pylori, which has been suspected of potentially causing dental disease, ulcers, and even stomach cancer.
What are the problems with Xylitol?
- Toxicity to pets. Xylitol is considered fatal to dogs, as it can result in liver failure. Please use caution around dogs, birds, and other pets.
- Bloating and discomfort. While sugar alcohols have been tied to certain stomach discomforts, I have never experienced this. Of course, I use xylitol in moderation (good advice for any sugar alcohol).
What are some ways to use Xylitol?
- In my sugar shaker. Instead of cinnamon and sugar, I mix xylitol and cinnamon.
- In my recipes: I use 3/4 of what the recipe calls for based on the sweetness of xylitol. So where a recipe calls for a cup, I use 3/4 of a cup (taste test for yourself to see what your acceptable level of sweet is).
- To tone down other sweeteners. If I end up with erythritol or Stevia in the pantry, I blend it with xylitol for a more ‘real’ sweet.
- Powder it. Xylitol is granular, so sometimes it doesn’t quite break down in a recipe as much as I’d like–especially if there aren’t a lot of liquids in the recipe. Measure the amount needed for a recipe and pulse it briefly in a blender or processor to powder (or let xylitol soak in your liquid ingredients until the crystals start to break down.)