What is actually xylitol? – The daily bite of knowledge

Written by Marina Lommel
2 minutes reading time
17. July 2023

In many low-carbohydrate “low carb” recipes, xylitol appears instead of sugar. What is it all about?

Xylitol is also known as xylitol, birch sugar or the brand name “Xucker”.

It tastes just as sweet as sugar and can be used in the same way when baking or preparing desserts. Chemically, xylitol is a carbohydrate, or more precisely, a sugar alcohol. Although sugar alcohols are chemically classified as carbohydrates, they are processed differently in the metabolism than carbohydrates from household sugar or starch (cereals, potatoes). Xylitol is not completely absorbed by the body and what is absorbed is metabolized very slowly. This gives xylitol a very low glycemic index and makes it ideal for low carb diets.

Don’t worry, even the name alcohol is just a chemical name in this case. Xylitol is not related to wine or beer and does not make you drunk.

Advantages over sugar

  • A low glycemic index of only 7-13 (depending on the source) – For comparison, glucose has a GI of 100
  • 40% fewer calories than sugar (240 kcal instead of 387 kcal per 100 g)
  • Has an antibacterial effect in the mouth and is therefore used in chewing gums to protect against caries
  • Supports mineralization of teeth and bones, contributing to healthy bone density

Recipes with xylitol


  • Xylitol is completely unproblematic for humans or cats. In dogs, however, the consumption of xylitol leads to extremely high insulin secretion, which can be fatal. So please always keep away from dogs!
  • Excessive consumption has a laxative effect – especially if you are not yet used to xylitol. Flatulence may also occur.

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The daily bite of knowledge

This new section is intended to provide a brief look at topics in nutrition science. If there are any topics you are particularly interested in, please leave us a comment.

This week’s Daily Bites of Knowledge is all about the sugar alcohols xylitol and erythritol.

This article was written by

Marina Lommel

Marina gründete Foodpunk nach ihrem Abschluss in Ernährungswissenschaften und ist aktuell CEO des Unternehmens. Während ihres Studiums arbeitete sie in verschiedenen Bereichen, darunter in der Wissenschaftsredaktion beim Radio, Redaktion beim TV und Uni-Wissensmagazin sowie im Labor am DZNE in der Parkinsonforschung. Marina ist außerdem Autorin von 5 ernährungswissenschaftlichen Sachbüchern.

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