Friday, October 20, 2006

Birch Sugar. Many people are wishing to reduce the sugar/carbohydrates in their diet it seems, and there are a couple alternatives which seem more natural than a number of artificial ones that have been popular. Stevia is one, and I found that it makes a nice easy additive to sweeten tea. I had a long meeting at my house one Saturday this summer where we consumed lots of iced tea sweetened with it, and guess what - I seem to be allergic as I suffered a severe reaction. It can be an allergen, and after researching I found that people who are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies are more likely to have a reaction to this as well. So I've fallen back on another old favorite, birch sugar to sweeten my tea and sometimes to sweetened fruit desserts. I've been using 'The Ulitmate Sweetener', which lists a number of other benefits to xylis, the ingredient of birch bark used to make this. One important one is that it actually reduces tooth decay, not just because it's not sugar, but it seems to assert a protective action on the teeth. Interesting. lists its benefits as follows:

  • Xylitol has 40% less calories than sugar.
  • Xylitol is effective in the prevention of dental caries.
  • It is a natural product found in various foods, especially fruits, even our body produces about 15gr of xylitol per day.
  • It doesn't have any serious side effects and it is not toxic
  • It may play a small but significant role in the prevention and management of diabetes
  • A few studies have shown that it can help increase bone volume and mineral content (Mattila PT et al 2001)
The birch tree itself seems to hold many mysteries, "The Giving Tree" talks about some modern efforts to unlock these ancient secrets. I consider birch sugar another one of my 'cool finds'.

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