We elves try to stick to the 4 main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. –Buddy the Elf
That quote from Elf always cracks me up. It’s funny because it feels so true this time of year, doesn’t it? Every Santa sighting and holiday event includes some kind of sugary treats. And let’s face it… all that sugar is fun, festive, and delicious, but also challenges those good oral hygiene habits we’ve been working to establish with our kids. But what if there was an all-natural sugar substitute that you could use with your favorite holiday recipes that could actually improve dental health and possibly even reverse existing dental cavities? Let’s ask Dr. Bob!
X is for Xylitol
Xylitol is a naturally occurring plant-based alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables. It’s typically used as a sugar substitute sugar-free gum and candy, and for people with diabetes. Some familiar sources of xylitol include various fruits, berries, mushrooms, lettuce, and corn cobs. When xylitol is used as a substitute for refined sugar, studies have shown a significant reduction in new tooth decay and sometimes even some reversal of dental caries. And because it has a low glycemic index it doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin. That fact alone is something every mama can be excited about.
Where to Buy It
Xylitol is much easier to find these days than it once was. In the past, it was often only available at health food stores. But now you can find it at brick and mortar stores like Walmart, Publix, Whole Foods, and The Vitamin Shoppe, and online on Amazon.
How to Use It and What You Should Know
Unlike some better-known sugar substitutes, xylitol can be used in a 1:1 ratio in place of sugar. So if your favorite recipe calls for 1/2 cup of sugar, you can simply substitute 1/2 cup of xylitol instead! But there are some helpful things you should know before baking that huge batch of holiday cookies for that upcoming party. Here are some things to keep in mind when cooking or baking with xylitol:
- Xylitol absorbs moisture, so you may need to adjust your brownie and cookie recipes by baking them for a little less time to prevent them from drying out
- Because yeast doesn’t metabolize xylitol it doesn’t work well as a sugar substitute in breads that will rise
- You can also substitute xylitol for brown sugar by adding 1-2 teaspoons for every cup of xylitol in your recipe
- If you decide to make the switch from sugar to xylitol, do so slowly to allow your digestive tract time to adjust
- Just like anything else, use xylitol in moderation; consuming more than 50 grams daily can cause a lot of GI upset
- Like chocolate, xylitol can be toxic to dogs
With Christmas and Hanukkah coming up, it’s a perfect time to try a new twist on some old favorites. Here’s a great recipe for healthy sugar cookies to please your crowd while keeping the sugar-induced mania in check. Or how about this recipe for almond apricot cookies?
Call Dr. Bob
Give your family the gift of improved dental health. Add xylitol to your existing dental routine and call Dr. Bob to schedule the kids’ dentist’s appointments for 2020. Dr. Bob Pediatric Dentist is a full-service boutique practice located in the heart of South Miami, offering a wide range of dental services for children and adolescents. Let Dr. Bob and his team provide your family with the exceptional care your child deserves!