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Question: What about Stevia and Xylitol?

Posted Oct 03 2008 11:32am 3 Comments

Sara had a question about Stevia and xylitol and, quite honestly, I’ve been avoiding it.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I’m not a big fan of sugar, artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes. But both Stevia and Xylitol actually do have some benefits. So, let me sit on the fence a bit and give you the pros and cons and see if you think you should include them in your diet.

Good Sweets?

First a little background:

  • What is Stevia? Stevia is an herb native to Paraguay that has an incredible sweet taste. In fact, it is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It has been used for thousands of years as a sweetener and it appears to mproves insulin sensitivity, may reduce hypertension, and even help fight obesity.
  • What is Xylitol? Xylitol is a sugar that is found in fruits and some vegetables and is used as a common sugar substitute. It is about as sweet as sugar, but only 1/3 of the calories. It is used mainly as a sugar in chewing gums, because it supposedly produces fewer cavities than sugar gum and reduces plaques. Xylitol may help control yeast, such as thrush and has less of an impact on blood sugar.

Good for You?

Okay, here is the reason why I’ve been avoiding this subject:

Are these sugars good really for you?

Yes, the sugars are better for you than eating artificial sweeteners and sugars like high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar. They have less of an impact on your blood sugar and, actually can help with blood sugar problems. Stevia turns to better for you than Xylitol because Xylitol is still a sugar. But the question remains: does that mean you should be eating these sugars?

I would say it is okay to eat these sugars as long as you understand where they are in your diet and I would say it also depends on what kind of dietary plan you are on. If you are following the diet plans outlined in Sugarettes, then these sugars are okay if you are working to still eat sugars and trying to balance your blood sugar (Plan #3), but probably not okay if you are on Plan #2 where you are trying to avoid all grains and sugars.

The problem with these sweet substances is that they are still training your tastes buds to highly sweet tastes and this will eventually lead to craving real sugars again. And once you fall off the wagon, you are back on the sugar roller coaster.

I would also suggest that if you are going to use Stevia, watch out that you take the whole plant and not just the extracts and isolated compounds like steviosides (these are concentrated, purified substances similar to white sugar).

There you go, xylitol and Stevia are a mixed bag: much better than most sugars, but maybe not the choice you want to make if you want to break free of the sugar madness that has a grip on you.

Comments (3)
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My dogs have eaten chocolate and grapes and avocados and are still alive. Two pieces of gum with Xylitol will shut down a dog's liver in thirty minutes. People ought to know about this stuff. 

In addition, Xylitol is made from corn and tree bark (from what I've been told). Corn - maybe, but tree bark is not something that sounds natural that I want to eat, and because having it in the house could kill my dogs, and I have NO IDEA what its effects are long term in humans, I am still not going to eat it. 

Monroe444, you do understand that chocolate and grapes are bad for dogs too right? As well as avacados and 1000 other things. There are many things our pets can't digest and eat but we humans have the right enzymes to do this. Dogs do not have the proper enzymes to metabolize and digest these products.

Two pieces of gum containing Xylitol will shut down a dog's liver in thirty minutes. Google it if you don't believe me. 

 One, if you are a dog lover, why would you want this product in your home? I bake and the owner of my local health food store tried to sell my a bag of Xylitol. If I had bought it, I would have given my dogs a bite or two of cookies that probably would have killed them.

Two, if it does that to a dog's liver, then what is it doing to a human's liver over time? I think there's not enough research on Xylitol, and I personally am going to avoid it.  

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