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I first heard about xylitol (trade name Zylosweet) in an article about tooth decay ( I cant remember where I read it sorry). Apparently tooth decay can actually be caught by kissing and by mothers tasting food for their babies, to check the temperature etc. They did a test where they gave some of the mothers xylitol gum to chew and the control group had none. On completion of the test the xylitol babies had no tooth decay and the control group had normal amounts.
On top of this I have a diabetic family member and xylitol is said to have "minimal impact on blood sugar and insulin"
I went about obtaning my xyiltol and purchased Higer Natures Zylosweet. The first thing that struck me was the price. 500g cost around £9 which is a huge outlay for something that you are to use like - well sugar.
Opening the tub, the substance is crystaline, white and well looks like sugar. It tastes like, well sugar. It can be used in your hot chocolate exactly like sugar. And really the only difference is the smug satisfacion that it has very few calories and that you wont have to get back up to brush your teeth.
I attempted to make a peppermint toffee to see how sugarlike this substance was and the result was bizarre. I added a small amount of water and some peppermint and fully disolved the crystals. I heated them to a high temperature suitable for the task and - it was strange it was as if the water in the mixture was surviving but the disolved crystals were smoking. I poured the sticky hot mixture onto a tray to cool and it semi set into a clear substance which was still sticky. The interesting thing was that when you agitate the substance (poke it a bit). It immediately hardens - a bit like Scottish tablet - and becomes a hard white substance. A bit like a sula mints.
The info on the side includes:
40% less calories than sugar
GI of 7
Intake should be increased gradually - apparently there can be laxative effects - I havent noticed this.
DO NOT FEED TO DOGS - check on web forums apparently very very bad
May help keep teeth free from tooth decay
Can be used in baking but cannot be used to raise yeast (presumably for the same rasons that it helps prevent tooth decay)