What is xylitol?

As all polyols, xylitol is a sugar alcohol or hydrogenated carbohydrate. It is also known as sugar replacer, bulk sweetener or sugar-free sweetener. It is found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables, and can be extracted from various berries, oats, and mushrooms, as well as fibrous material such as corn husks and sugar cane bagasse, and birch. Xylitol is roughly as sweet as sucrose and contributes with 2.4 kcal (9 kilojoules) per gram, compared to 4 kcal (17 kJ) per gram for typical carbohydrates. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies xylitol as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). Xylitol is also approved as a food additive in EU as E967 and in many other jurisdictions.

In what products is xylitol used?

  • Food applications

    Xylitol’s dental significance was researched in Finland in the early 1970s, when scientists at Turku University showed it had significant dental benefits. Xylitol (European safety number E 967; International number INS 967) is specific in its inhibition of the mutans streptococci group, bacteria that are significant contributors to tooth decay. Xylitol inhibits mutans streptococci in the presence of other sugars, with the exception of fructose. Xylitol has virtually no aftertaste, and is advertised as “safe for diabetics and individuals with hyperglycemia.” This tolerance is attributed to the lower impact of xylitol on a person’s blood sugar, compared to that of regular sugars and also has a very low glycemic index of 8 (glucose has a GI of 100). See also Polyols – food applications

  • Pharmaceutical applications

    The pharmaceutical industry uses xylitol as a sweetener in its products. See also Polyols – pharmaceutical applications

  • Cosmetics

    Other applications include oral hygiene products, such as toothpaste, fluoride tablets and mouthwashes. See also Polyols – Cosmetics appplications