What is xylitol (xylitol)?

Xylitol (chemical: pentanepentol) belongs to the group of sugar alcohols, which also includes  sorbitol  and lactitol, for example. It is mainly used in the food industry as a sugar substitute. The substance is particularly popular here because it is said to have an anti-cariogenic effect.
In contrast to ordinary household sugar (sucrose), xylitol does not have any damaging effect on our teeth, but is even said to have a positive effect on our dental health.


Xylitol tastes similar to normal table sugar and also has almost the same sweetening power. When consumed, it provides a cooling effect on the  tongue as it draws heat from the environment when it comes into contact with saliva.

Similar to sorbitol, the calorie content of xylitol is lower than that of normal household sugar. While a gram of sucrose contains about 4 calories, xylitol has only 2.4 calories per gram. Because the  sugar substitute  can be metabolized  in the body with less  insulin than sucrose, it is often used in products for diabetics.

Xylitol inhibits the development of tooth decay

The caries-reducing effect of xylitol was discovered in Finland in the 1970s. In several studies, a significant reduction in tooth decay through ingestion has been demonstrated. This effect is probably due to the fact that the bacteria responsible for the development of caries cannot metabolize xylitol and therefore die off.

In addition, xylitol is said to stimulate saliva production and promote the remineralization of tooth substance. Use is also said to make teeth smoother — making it harder for proteins to attach to the tooth surface. In addition, regular use of the sugar substitute should also  make it easier to remove plaque  and tartar.

For optimal dental care, a xylitol quantity of between five and ten grams per day is said to be taken. This amount can be ingested through powder, candy or  chewing gum  , for example.

Side Effects of Xylitol

Whether xylitol can have harmful side effects is not yet known. So far, there is no evidence for claims that xylitol is carcinogenic.

When taking it, however, it should be noted that xylitol can have a laxative effect at a dose that exceeds 0.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.

In contrast to sorbitol, however, the organism gets used to a higher amount of xylitol over time: With regular intake, the laxative effect no longer occurs in the long term. Nevertheless, foods that contain more than ten percent of the sugar substitute must be labeled with the addition ‘excessive consumption can have a laxative effect’.

Even though xylitol has so far been considered harmless to human health, animal experiments have resulted in serious side effects: Dogs, for example, experienced a sharp drop in blood sugar levels, severe liver damage and coagulation disorders.

Xylitol Sources

Various types of fruit and vegetables serve as natural sources of xylitol. For example, it is found in cauliflower, strawberries, raspberries and plums.  Since the sugar substitute is also present in large quantities in the bark of the  birch , it is also known as birch sugar.

Xylitol is also produced in our body – so the sugar alcohol is not an exogenous substance. It is made by the body when carbohydrates are broken down.

Today, industrial production mainly takes place from harvested  corn cobs . Since the extraction is complex, the sugar substitute is significantly more expensive than ordinary household sugar. You can buy xylitol in powder form or as part of chewing gum, hard candy, mouth spray or toothpaste.


Xylitol is becoming increasingly popular in the kitchen for cooking and baking as it is a nearly equivalent substitute for sugar but has only half the calories. There are now many products, such as  chocolate , that use it as a sweetener instead of sucrose. In food, the additive xylitol is marked with the number E967.

The sugar substitute is also used in chewing gum and candy for dental care. You should always make sure that you only buy products that have only been sweetened with xylitol and not with other sugar substitutes. However, this is often not the case with chewing gum in particular.


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