Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar alcohol that naturally occurs in the fibers of certain fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, strawberries, yellow plums, lettuce, cauliflower and corn. For commercial purposes, it’s most often extracted from the bark of birch trees. It was first discovered in 1891 by a German chemist and used as a sweetener in Finland due to sugar shortages during World War II. In 1963 it was approved as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but it wasn’t until recently that it’s been used in a wide variety of food products. It is now available in 35 countries.
One teaspoon of xylitol has 10 calories, compared to sugar, which has 15 calories. However, the sugar alcohols in xylitol don’t have much impact on your blood sugar levels -- one reason it’s considered safe for diabetics. Classified as a carbohydrate, 1 teaspoon of xylitol contains 4 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of sugar alcohols. It contains only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, but it aids in the absorption of calcium and B vitamins in your body. Xylitol supplies amounts of liver glycogen, with about 10 percent of xylitol metabolized in the kidneys and the remainder used up by blood cells, the adrenal cortex, lung, testes, brain and other tissues. The information about xylitol in this article was referenced from livestrong.com' s xylitol nutrition information.
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