Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is produced in the liver during metabolism of d-glucose. Produced commercially from plants such as birch and other hardwood trees and fibrous vegetation, xylitol has the same sweetness and bulk as sucrose with reduced calories (about 2.4 cal/g in the United States and European Union). Xylitol quickly dissolves and produces a cooling sensation in the mouth.
Xylitol is a caries fighter. In clinical tests, the consumption of xylitol-containing foods between meals was associated with significantly reduced new caries formation, even when participants were already practicing good oral hygiene. Xylitol inhibits the growth of S. mutans, the primary bacterium associated with dental caries. Use of xylitol-containing foods was correlated with a significant decrease in plaque accumulation. In addition, the sweetness and cooling effect of xylitol-sweetened products such as mints or chewing gum creates an increase in salivary flow. The combination of demonstrated increased salivary flow, retardation of plaque growth, and caries prevention qualifies xylitol as a good-for-your-teeth food ingredient.
Mannitol is synthesized from hydrogénation of invert sugar, monosaccharides, and sucrose. It is used in the food industry as an anticaking and free-flow agent, flavoring agent, lubricant and release agent, stabilizer, and thickener. Its chemical structure is shown as follows (2):
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