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What is Xylose?

By K. K. Lowen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Xylose is a form of sugar that comes from woody substances such as straw, corn cobs, pecan shells, and cottonseed hulls. There are a number of benefits to using xylose instead of regular table sugar. It is safe, healthy, toxin-free, and allows people to indulge their appetites for sweet food without weight gain and other issues commonly associated with sugar. The sweetener may help fight infections, restore hormonal imbalances, and treat other health problems.

This sugar substitute became popular in Japan and throughout Europe in the 1960s. It was successfully introduced in the United States upon approval by the FDA in 1963. Since that time, the substance has served as both a food sweetener and as a remedy for certain health problems.

Versatility is a major characteristic of xylose, as it has many forms and uses. The substance is available in liquid form, and the crystallized form is an appropriate replacement for granular sugar used in baking. Some people also have used xylitol, a sugar alcohol which is a product of xylose.

As a sweetener, it provides a much healthier alternative to regular sugar. The rate at which the body absorbs table sugar is much higher than the rate of xylose absorption. People can consume far more of this product without any ill effects.

It is not surprising that people on strict diets use xylose. Many diet and reduced-calorie foods contain the substance because it has high fiber content, no carbohydrates, and far fewer calories than sugar. The fiber helps with both weight loss and digestion, while the lack of carbs and low calorie count make it an appropriate choice for many types of diets.

The potential health benefits do not end with weight loss and digestive health. Xylose is antibacterial, antifungal, and contains natural healing agents that help ailments ranging from ear and nasal infections to hormonal imbalances. The substance also lowers insulin levels, improves the immune system, and can increase bone density in older patients. It also may help relieve allergy and asthma symptoms by decreasing bacteria that live in the nasal cavity.

Another benefit of the sweetener is increased oral health. Xylose does not decay teeth like table sugar, making it safe to use in toothpaste, mouthwash, and gum. The sugar substitute also has properties that fight tooth decay and gum disease. It also can improve some of the decay and damage caused by gum disease because it decreases the amount of bacteria that cling to teeth.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon997154 — On Nov 21, 2016

Could someone please advise me where to buy xylose? I would like to try it in my kitchen. Thank you, Anna.

By anon996203 — On Jul 24, 2016

Xylitol stinks. Too much can cause an extreme amount of painful gas and cause you to go to the bathroom in a hurry. I only brush my teeth with it. I only use Xylose and a very small amount of Stevia. I make my own tea, sodas, icec reams, cookies and candy. Xylose is the best.

By anon355927 — On Nov 20, 2013

I just purchased a box of coffee mix packets at my local International grocery store. The mix contains xylose. Talk about yummy creamy coffee! Maxim White Gold brand. Luckily, it had a sticker label in English.

By Oceana — On Jul 28, 2012

It amazes me that xylose can come from pecan shells. If you have ever shelled pecans yourself and have accidentally bitten into a bit of shell lodged in the middle of the nut, then you know how terribly bitter it is!

I cannot think of anything on this earth more bitter than a pecan hull. It destroys the taste of the nut for me, and I have to go brush my teeth to get the nasty flavor out before I can enjoy any more.

It must be some magically scientific process that can derive sweetness from something so bitter. I could understand if xylose was extracted from the actual nut, but I don't get how it can come from the shell.

By Kristee — On Jul 27, 2012

@JackWhack – I like candy sweetened with xylose. I've never tried sorbitol, but I do know that isomalt is just about as good of a sweetener as xylose, because I've eaten diabetic candies sweetened with it, too.

I'm glad that xylose is used to sweeten cough drops, because when I am sick, I keep one in my mouth constantly. I hate to think of how much my teeth would rot if I had to suck on drops made with real sugar!

When I have a sore throat, cough drops are just about the only thing that really soothes it. If I don't use one right after the other, my throat becomes really dry again, and it gets harder to swallow. It's good to know that I am not consuming a ton of calories by eating the xylose cough drops!

By JackWhack — On Jul 27, 2012

I've eaten foods sweetened with sorbitol and those sweetened with xylose, and I really can't tell a difference. I do know that aspartame has a weird, fake taste that I can't stand, and I definitely would choose something sweetened with xylose over this.

I eat a lot of sugar-free candy, because my mother is diabetic, and that is just what we have around the house. I have had gum drops and some kinds of hard candy that contained xylose, and to me, they tasted just as great as the kind with real sugar in it.

It's funny how some sugar alternatives really stand out with a weird flavor and others can barely be distinguished from the real thing. Xylose is one of the best.

By StarJo — On Jul 26, 2012

I use several xylitol products. The one I use most frequently is sugar-free gum.

It tastes just as sweet and delicious as regular gum, but it will not cause cavities. I was delighted when my dentist told me that it would actually help my teeth out. I had never been encouraged to chew gum before, so this was something new to me.

I chew a piece of gum sweetened with xylitol after every meal and snack. It comes in especially handy if I know that I won't be able to brush my teeth for awhile, like when I'm at work and I have a mid-morning snack. I even chew it after drinking soda or coffee, because it helps remove the real sugar that could cause cavities.

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