What is Xylitol? A Natural Sugar-Free Sweetener That Tastes Like Sugar

I am often asked, “What is xylitol?” from my readers. I am about to use it in another recipe; therefore, I wanted to explain more about it prior to publishing the recipe. I enjoy xylitol, as it tastes just like sugar! Plus, it is proven to prevent cavities and even heal teeth. However, if you have corn allergies you’ll need to know which brands to purchase. I hope you find this information useful.

UPDATE / WARNING: Xylitol, even in very tiny amounts, is highly toxic to animals. It is absorbed into their bloodstream within 30 minutes.

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural sugar-free sweetener. Unlike stevia, it is not bitter. And unlike stevia, it is easy to introduce into your diet without severe bloating, etc. All you have to do is introduce into your diet slowly.

Xylitol products

Xylitol is found in many different products: gum, toothpaste, mints, jams, crystals, and in powder form (as a substitute for powdered sugar).

Low Glycemic Index

Xylitol it is low on the gylcemic index. The brand I am currently using, Xylo Sweet (switching to a birch derived one soon), only is 7 on the glycemic index (sugar is 85-100), and is not metabolized without insulin.

How to cook with xylitol

You can use it in any baked good, sauce, etc. Heating does not affect it. Though it will not help yeast rise as it does not contain the same properties as sugar, agave syrup, etc.  It is also not advised to use in large amounts in cold drinks such as Kool-Aide. What I do is make hot tea, add the xylitol, then add ice. In other uses: coffee, baking, etc., use it just like you would table sugar.

From what is xylitol made?

I just discovered that xylitol is usually derived from corn cobs or from birch trees. As most of you know, I am not big on corn, unless it is in small amounts and it is GMO-free. I have been using one brand, Xlear XyloSweet which they state is “Made of a naturally-occurring substance found in fruits and vegetables like plums, strawberries, and corn.” There’s that “corn” word again. Most corn is GMO (genetically modified organisms). How much, if any, corn they use, is unknown. This brand contains 1/3 of the calories of sugar, with a glycemic index of 7 (anything under 55 is considered low), but contains zero carbohydrates! Table sugar is 65 on the glycemic index and 1 teaspoon contains about 4 grams of carbs.

Brands of xylitol derived from birch

Meanwhile, my search for a xylitol derived from birch began, and I immediately found one, and it was GMO-free! The brand is Smart Sweet. For 1 teaspoon, both brands contain 9.6 calories, and the same amount of carbs. I am assuming the glycemic index is also the same, though they do not note it. I’m sold! Birch xylitol it is! I found it at Global Sweet. You’ll find it at other online stores, as well.

One site stated that their Xyla was derived from birch. I assumed Xyla was a brand and searched for a good price on one, but it is actually another term used for xylitol, all short for xylan. I discovered this by watching the process video on how Xyla by Emerald Forest is made, and discovered it is derived from corn. Watch the below video.

UPDATE: However, there is a brand named Xyla, which is derived from birch.


So, this holiday season or next summer’s bikini season (haven’t worn one of those in decades!), reach for birch dervied xylitol instead of sugar! Using xylitol helped me lose 10 lbs. recently!

Happy upcoming holidays!



4 Replies to “What is Xylitol? A Natural Sugar-Free Sweetener That Tastes Like Sugar”

  1. i love thy xylitol since we started I want to make a purchase and was asking was your product 100% or does it contain nuetraswet. I have siezures from it

  2. I’m glad that birch xylitol is gluten free because I just bought it in bulk (30 pounds!) in powder form. But now I am worried that 1) I let my dogs (big dogs) lick a bunch of it from my fingers and this site says it is “highly toxic” to animals… they seem to be fine today, but what do you mean by highly toxic? Are they going to be okay? One is 92 pounds and one is almost 80 pounds and they are both 4 years old.
    2) Today was my first sugar-free day… I am like, have some coffee with your sugar kind of person… I eat at least a 5 pound bag of sugar a week!!! So today all I had was xylitol in my coffee and hot tea, but all of a sudden I got the celiac watery uncontrollable diarrhea which I haven’t had in years… I started drinking my coffee at around noon and then went to hot tea around 4 and it is now 8 pm…. So I am wondering what is wrong?? I read your statement that you have to introduce it slowly, but I am not sure what that meant. Also it was a little confusing about the hot/cold beverage thing… do you mean that it has to be mixed in hot stuff not cold stuff?? Mostly I am freaked out about my dogs and the fact that I am now suffering most unpleasant bowel symptoms.

    Any suggestions would be helpful and much appreciated. I am trying not to be scared.

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