Xylitol – the new sweetener on the block
I’d like to tell you about two of my favourite products at the moment – Xylitol and Agave Syrup.
Xylitol is a substitute for sugar called a polyol that occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. The branded ready to buy product is called Xylobrit and is extracted from birch trees – never has tree extract tasted so good! Xylobrit looks and tastes just like sugar, with no aftertaste, and can be used just like ordinary sugar in hot and cold drinks, in baking and on cereals. So what are the benefits?
Xylitol has a very low Glycaemic Index of 8 and so is great for those of us on a low GL diet.
It has only 2.4kcal/g as opposed to 4kcal/g in ordinary sugar.
Xylitol does not need insulin to be metabolised, so is better for diabetics as it does not cause fluctuations in blood sugar.
Xylitol actually promotes healthy teeth and gums, and is used extensively in sugar-free chewing gum and oral-hygiene products because of its unique dental-care properties which have been clinically proven.
Xylitol also has a prebiotic effect, promoting the growth of friendly bacteria.
Fantastic, the only downside is that excessive use may induce laxative effects… oops. For this, and general health reasons you still need to keep consumption of sweet foods down.
Agave, another sweet wonder
Agave syrup or nectar is naturally extracted from the inner core of the Agave cactus plant, and it is about 90% fructose. It has a low glycaemic load of 1.6 and is a delicious alternative to sugar (GL 92), tasting a little like mild honey or maple syrup. As a syrup, it is fructose in its natural form and so doesn’t contain any processing chemicals, and is sweeter than table sugar so you don’t need very much. Like Xylobrit, Agave is great for diabetics or those who have insulin resistance, or those who are just watching their carbohydrate intake.
Although Agave syrup has a low GI value, if you are following a GL regime you need to be aware of one of the strange concepts. If fructose is consumed after eating a large meal that raises the blood sugar, or with high GI foods, it takes on the value of the higher glycaemic food, so it’s a good idea to eat fructose based dishes on an empty stomach, in between meals, or with other low GL foods.
In recipes use 25% less Agave than sugar. For example use 3/4 cup Agave syrup where it says a cup of sugar. You will also need to reduce your liquid in the recipe by as much as 1/3. Reduce you oven temperature by around 25 degrees.