For a time, artificial sweetener was commonly used as a sugar substitute, because people believed that it could reduce calories and control diabetes. However, most artificial sweeteners that are available have been criticized for their adverse health effects, and there are some that lose luster and flavor when they are used for baking.
Most natural sugar substitutes do not possess the same health risks as artificial sugar substitutes, and they are considered the healthiest replacement for sugar. Some of the commonly used natural sugar substitutes that are used for baking include stevia, sorbital and xylitol. Among these, the one that is considered the safest is xylitol.
Xylitol is derived from the fibers of fruits and vegetables, and it's commonly found in foods such as oats, husks, berries and mushrooms. It has a sweet taste like sugar, but is considered a sugar alcohol. Initial consumption may cause bloating or diarrhea, but once the body gets used to the effects of xylitol, it will not experience any health problems.
Safety and Health Benefits of Xylitol
- No side effects: Xylitol has no ill effects if it's taken in limited quantity. The permitted quantity is 430 grams per day.
- Stops teeth cavities: It has been found that Xylitol is effective in controlling cavities. However, it should not be used in yeast-based food products because it can kill microorganisms.
- Controls diabetes: Xylitol contains at least 40 percent fewer calories than regular sugar. There are only 9.6 calories in 5 grams of xylitol, which makes it a safe sugar substitute for those who are suffering from diabetes and hyperglycemia.
- Treats osteoporosis: Xylitol is also known to be effective in treating osteoporosis, because it can improve bone density.
- Prevents ear infection: Xylitol can control bacterial infection by preventing the growth of bacteria in nasal cavities and the ear.
- Helps pregnant women: Xylitol has the ability to fight streptococcus mutans bacteria in pregnant women, and this reduces the chances of tooth decay in the first two years of a newborn's life.
Baking with Xylitol
Xylitol is commonly used by health conscious people as a baking ingredient because it's the perfect substitute for regular sugar, without the detrimental health effects. It has the same sweetening ability as sugar, which means that you can use the same quantity of xylitol as sugar when baking. However, it's important to know that xylitol absorbs moisture in very high amounts, so baked food may become dry because of that. Therefore, you should use more water to increase moisture.
Xylitol is natural sweetener that has no known negative health effects, but if it is taken in high quantity, it may cause health problems such as gastrointestinal infection. As such, you should exercise caution to ensure that you use a safe amount for your baking. Another thing you should know is that xylitol can be detrimental to the health of animals, so you must not let your pet consume any baked food that contains it.