Christmas is a time when we like to kick back, forget about calories, fat content, and exercise, and indulge ourselves. We can worry about all of that when we start our New Year diets and fitness regime. Several published studies have now shown that you can still indulge your sweet tooth over Christmas, however, whilst giving your waistline a head start for the New Year.
Touted by many health experts and nutritionists as the super food for 2007, xylitol is a new natural sugar alternative that has recently hit supermarket shelves in the UK. Xylitol, which is found in many plants and fruits, has nearly half the calories of sugar, a GI value of just 7 (about ten times lower than sugar), and 75% less available carbohydrates, and helps actively promote healthy teeth. Although these benefits alone are enough to make xylitol stand out from other products, it is xylitols possible effects on appetite that are causing the biggest stir.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who had 25g of xylitol, compared with nothing, glucose, fructose, or sucrose (sugar), ate 230 less calories at their next meal. This suppression of appetite was also observed in a study carried out at Leeds University and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, that showed that those who ate yoghurts for breakfast that were sweetened with xylitol rather than sugar went on to eat 10% less for lunch.
It is thought that xylitol stops you eating more because, due to its low GI value, it releases its energy very slowly and stabilises insulin levels. It therefore keeps you feeling fuller for longer and so prevents sugar cravings and snacking.
So by simply replacing sugar over Christmas with xylitol, which can be used just like sugar in cooking, baking, hot drinks, or sprinkled over cereals or fruit, you can help cut down on calories, carbohydrates, and the amount you eat, without even noticing and whilst still indulging your sweet tooth!
Xylitol is now available in Tesco, Sainsburys (in the health food section), Waitrose, Holland and Barrett, and independent health food stores under the brand name Perfect Sweet. Visit www.perfectsweet.co.uk for more details.