White sugar is proven to raise your risk of all chronic diseases, but that doesn't mean you have to give up sweet foods to eat smart. "Alternative sweeteners are more popular than ever, and unlike table sugar, they have added health benefits." And most fall lower on the glycemic index, which means they won't spike your blood sugar like white sugar will.
Xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol, and is made from cornhusks or birch tree bark. Research shows it's good for oral health – it can reduce bacterial growth, stave off plaque, and help prevent cavities. And because it's so low on the glycemic index (the scale measures how food affects blood sugar and insulin levels; the lower the number, the smaller the spike), Xylitol is okay in moderation for diabetics, says nutritionist and James Beard Award-winning chef Cheryl Forberg. "But it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, so limit how much you use."
Best uses: Equally as sweet as sugar, Xylitol makes for a simple replacement in baked-good recipes, where it also helps to retain moisture.