Xylitol is a good-tasting bulk sweetener which is reduced in calories and dentally safe. Discovered in 1891, xylitol has been used as a sweetening agent in human food since the 1960s. It has gained widespread acceptance as an alternative sweetener due to its role in reducing the development of dental caries (cavities).
Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is even produced by the human body during normal metabolism. Produced commercially from plants such as birch and other hard wood trees and fibrous vegetation, xylitol has the same sweetness and bulk as sucrose with one-third fewer calories and no unpleasant aftertaste. It quickly dissolves and produces a cooling sensation in the mouth.
Xylitol is currently approved for use in foods, pharmaceuticals and oral health products around the world. Xylitol is used in foods such as chewing gum, gum drops and hard candy, and in pharmaceuticals and oral health products such as throat lozenges, cough syrups, children’s chewable multivitamins, toothpastes and mouthwashes. In the United States, xylitol is approved as a direct food additive for use in foods for special dietary uses.