Xylitol or Stevia – which sweetener to choose?

Stevia and xylitol are low-calorie sweeteners that are an alternative to sugar. Their use is considered better for health and is less controversial than using aspartame, acesulfame-K or other intense sweeteners. Let’s take a closer look at these two probably the safest sweeteners.

 

Xylitol – sugar is not always birch

Xylitol is a five-carbon sweet polyhydric alcohol (so-called zircon). It is a substance of natural origin with a crystalline structure. It is obtained most often from birch wood or sometimes from maize. In fact, it is possible to obtain it from every plant, because xylitol is formed from xylans, or polysaccharides found in the cell walls of many plants. Xylitol is intended for people who for various reasons can not or should not use sugar, but do not want to give up sweetening. Those who are interested in are certainly weight-loss, athletes, people with diabetes, fungal infections, or people with progressive caries.

Finnish xylitol and Chinese xylitol?

The finished product most often looks like crushed sugar and it does not matter what its origin is. Among the leading countries in the production of xylitol definitely mention Finland and China. It has been assumed that xylitol coming from China will have worse quality, because it is used for the production of maize, often genetically modified. Danisco from Finland, whose “XIVIA” raw material is always made of birchwood, enjoys great appreciation. You can find xylitol with different thicknesses of crystals. It may resemble powdered sugar, but it may also look like coarse sugar. Tastes always like sucrose, and the only difference is the coolness in the mouth. It is 100% safe for health and clearly better than traditional sugar.

 

Thanks to the fact that xylitol produces in the body alkaline reaction is indicated at

tooth decay and gum disease;

dryness in the mouth (stimulates the secretion of saliva);

inflammation of the ear;

preventing the accumulation of putrefactive bacteria;

treatment of oral infections with candida;

in case of upper respiratory tract infections – antibacterial effect

helpful gastric hyperacidity.

 

What is stevia?

Stevia owes its sweetness to the presence of glycosides, which are about 30 to 320 times sweeter than sucrose. In the European Union, the sale of steviol glycosides (E960) was authorized in 2011 (Commission Regulation (EU) No 1131/2011 of November 11, 2011). In Paraguay it was already known more than 1000 years ago as a natural sweetener and healing substance. The presented sweetener is an alternative to sucrose and intense sweeteners. Stevia has all the desirable qualities that intense sweeteners have, but, unlike them, it has a vegetable origin. Stevia rebaudiana, from which sweeteners are obtained, has exceptionally sweet leaves. They are subjected to a drying process followed by extraction. The process then purifies the obtained extract using ion-exchange chromatography.At the end of the process, the purified extract undergoes a recrystallisation process. Due to the complexity of the process, the price of stevia is quite high. Sometimes the stevia form intended for sale contains various types of additives such as maltodextrin or glucose for a loose form.

Which sweetener will be the best?

Stevia, compared to xylitol, is much sweeter and has virtually zero calorific value. Xylitol will provide 2.4 kcal for each gram, which means it will need to be included in caloric calculations. Stevia is characterized by a complete lack of influence on the glycemic index of consumed beverages or meals. Xylitol may slightly increase the level of sugar. Both sweeteners are not sensitive to high temperature and are suitable, for example, for baking or cooking. Both sweeteners are safe for diabetics and do not damage teeth. Xylitol and stevia are obtained from plants. Xylitol can only be obtained in a crystalline form, and in cases of stevia the choice is very wide powder, tablets, crystals, liquid, sachets, dried leaves, leaf powder and even fresh leaves. As for the taste,this xylitol will certainly be more similar to the traditionally used sucrose. Stevia’s sweetness is no longer the same as sugar and some will not accept this taste. There is no doubt, however, that it is much healthier than sucrose.

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