Choosing the right source is important.
In order to acheive optimal anti-cavity protection, you'll need to consume xylitol on a daily basis, over an extended period of time, at a level that falls within recommended guidelines. (Xylitol Guidelines)
That means you'll need to pick out a xylitol source that fits in well with your lifestyle.
For many, this will mean purchasing xylitol-sweetened products such as gum, candy, etc... (see our list above). Others may prefer to simply add it in granular form to the foods and beverages they already eat.
A) Granular xylitol.
One way incorporate xylitol into your diet is by purchasing it in granular form.
- It doesn't taste precisely like table sugar (sucrose) but you'll like it. It has no aftertaste.
- It looks very similar to regular sugar and it's used in the same quantities to sweeten things (foods, beverages).
- It can be used as a sugar substitute in recipes (except those where it's needed for yeast to rise).
- Xylitol only contains 2.4 calories (kilocalories) per gram whereas sucrose has 3.87. That's about 1/3rd less.
Most adults only need about 2 teaspoons of xylitol per day.
- 1 teaspoon = about 4 grams. Adults will only need to find a way to sprinkle 1.5 to 2 tsp. into their daily diet. (As our picture shows, that's not much.)
- It's usually sold prepackaged in 1 and 2.5 pound quantities.
- You'll find that it costs 3 to 5 times more than regular sugar (possibly even more considering sugar is often on sale). But that seems a small price to pay considering all of the benefits that it provides and how little you need to use to get them.
B) Xylitol products.
While just finding xylitol products can be difficult enough, locating those that actually contain enough of it to help you reach your daily needs can be even harder. This remainder of this page describes ways to identify items that can.
Product quality definitely varies.
The products we've seen typically fall within one of two categories.
These are those products made by companies whose targeted customer is the informed consumer. Their xylitol content is typically clearly documented right on their packaging.
Mediocre to poor choices.
Some companies have taken notice of the growing demand for xylitol-sweetened consumables and have add them to their product line so not to miss a sale.
In some instances, the quantity of xylitol these products contain is low. That's because xylitol is fairly expensive in comparison to other sweeteners and inferior manufacturers will skimp on it in favor of cheaper alternatives (especially sorbitol and manitol).
One serving of this gum (two pieces) contains 1.6 grams of xylitol.
Unfortunately, some manufacturers get away with not documenting their product's xylitol content on its packaging. Doing so is not a requirement under U.S. law so, for whatever reason, they choose not to.
It's easy to understand why makers of inferior products would want to omit this documentation. After all, they're just after a quick sale to the uninitiated. They don't want you to be able to make a direct comparison between their product and a competitor's because they know if you do they'll loose out.
It's not so easy to understand why manufacturers of decent quality products are lax in labeling them. We do feel, however, that these companies deserve to lose the sale too.
Daily xylitol consumption needs to be gauged so an optimal level is achieved. And even if you know differently about a product (possibly through a recommendation by your dentist), if another properly labeled alternative exists, choose it. Don't support manufacturers who don't support you by the simple act of providing adequate consumer information.
How to pick out the highest quality xylitol products.
There are a few different methods you can use to identify, or at least estimate, the xylitol content of a product. For the most part, you'll want to choose those that contain the highest percentage.
1) Look for documentation right on its packaging.
Of course, all products should be labeled in a way that clearly states their xylitol content. And it's our opinion that if you find one that's not, out of principle, you shouldn't buy it.
With xylitol listed first, this product should make a good choice.
2) Make an estimation based on its ingredient list.
In those cases where proper documentation doesn't exist, you can estimate the relative level of xylitol content of products by comparing where it appears in their list of ingredients.
In this example, xylitol is positioned further down. That makes this product a less favorable selection.
Compounds are arranged in descending order (those found in the highest amounts are listed first).
If one product shows xylitol at the head of its list (like Example #1) and competing product (containing similar ingredients) lists it further down (like Example #2), you can assume that the former contains the greater amount of xylitol.
Example #3: Xylitol is not only found way down in the list but it's even preceded by another sugar (sorbitol).
Compared to the other labels (Examples #1 & 2), it's easy to say that this one makes the worst choice.
3) Look for other sugar-substitutes in the list.
Xylitol is a relatively expensive sweetener, especially in comparison to other sugar-alcohols (sorbitol, manitol). If you are comparing two products, and one is formulated with just xylitol whereas the other contains additional sweeteners, it can be assumed that the former will have the higher xylitol content.
Keep track of what you usually use.
It's good practice to take note of the ingredient list of the product you usually use. Then, in those instances where your favorite brand is not available, all you have to do is look for another that has a very similar looking list (with xylitol shown in an equivalent position). It's a fairly safe assumption to expect that the unfamiliar brand will have a xylitol content that's relatively comparable to the one you usually rely upon.
For more information.
Use one of the menu buttons below to learn more about specific types of xylitol products (chewing gum, toothpaste, oral rinse).