Added sugar can be the single most unhealthy ingredient in the modern diet. For this reason, emergence of sugar-free sweeteners like Xylitol and Stevia became popular. But how do they differ from each other?
Xylitol vs. Stevia
Stevia is derived from stevia rebaudiana, a plant native to South America. Both Xylitol and Stevia are calorie-free and hundred times sweeter than sugar, but Stevia lacks sugar’s bulk, and, when baked, it natural licorice flavor. It is available in brands Stevia in the Raw, Sweet Leaf, Rebiana, Enliten, and Erylite Stevia. 
Xylitol, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that’s used in gums, candies, toothpaste, and other items. It’s also manufactured on various oral health-related products that focuses on preventing tooth decay. The California Dental Association says that xylitol has been proven to prevent teeth decay by reducing cavities and strengthening tooth enamel as well. 
Helpful for Diabetics
Xylitol is an excellent alternative to sugar for people with diabetes, especially for type 2 diabetes. Its low glycemic index does not spike blood glucose or insulin levels, and it even has a reduced caloric value of 2.4 calories per gram compared to the regular sugar that contains 4.0 calories per gram.
Researches shown that xylitol seems to be helpful in improving blood glucose levels as well as insulin resistance and lipid profiles which is also consistent with the objective of weight control in diabetic patients.
Benefits and Side effects of Xylitol and Stevia
In a study published by International Journal of Dentistry, too much xylitol intake may cause mild gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea and intestinal gas. Which is a similar side effect can occur when consuming too much fructose, the natural sugar found in fruits.
On the other hand, According to Mayo Clinic Stevia’s side effects were known to be nausea, vomiting, cramps and bloating. It can also lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in large consumption or long-term use. 
So which one is good for you? It all depends on your health condition, it is still best to consult with your doctor. And even though xylitol and its cavity-fighting properties can have amazing effects on your dental health, it cannot replace regular dental exams and cleanings to properly diagnose and treat your mouth.
We have published another article entitled “Sweet as sugar…but better! How xylitol can help your smile!” which tackles a different side of sugar sweeteners. Just click on the link or visit our Energetic Smile to know more of our dental articles!
- Brans, K. ( 2015 September 10 ). Comparing Sweeteners: Xylitol vs. Stevia. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/xylitol-stevia-comparison#1
- California Dental Association. ( 2018 ) Xylitol: The Decay-Preventive Sweetener. Retrieved from https://www.cda.org/Portals/0/pdfs/fact_sheets/xylitol_english.pdf
- Makinen K. (2016 Oct 20). Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5093271
- Zeratsky, K. ( 2018 November 7 ). What is stevia? I’ve heard it’s good for weight control. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/stevia/faq-20057856
- Brambilla E. & Lonescu AC. et. al. (2016 May) Levorotatory carbohydrates and xylitol subdue Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans adhesion and biofilm formation. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26456320 (Accessed June 14, 2018)
- American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Policy on the use of xylitol in caries prevention (2010) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4232036/#b2-ccide-6-089 (Accessed June 14, 2018)
- Myers Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics. Cavity Fighting with XYLITOL Gum. Retrieved from https://www.tooth2tooth.com/fact_sheets/Xylitol.pdf
- If Your Dentist Doesn’t Recommend Xylitol Based Products Get A New One!. Retrieved from https://xylitol.org/xylitol-uses/dental-benefits-of-xylitol/