Luo han guo – a source of xylitol

Louo han guo is a fruit that has been recently hyped up and marketed as a natural sweetener. What is it really? It’s really just a source of xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol, which is not digested as easily by the body lending fewer calories per gram than regular sugar. The polyol also has a slight cooling effect, which you would recognize while eating sugarless gum like Trident.

Xylitol was first discovered and isolated in Sweden from birch bark. It is also now widely used in Sweden (where it was first isolated) and used in all sorts of candies there.

Regular use of xylitol is associated with significant reduction of cavities and tooth remineralization (1). Why? Because research shows that xylitol doesn’t contribute to tooth decay and, unlike other sugar alcohols like erythritol, it may even help fight cavities by a mechanism of confusing cavity-causing bacteria to eat it and basically die.

Reference

1. Mäkinen KK. Sugar alcohols, caries incidence, and remineralization of caries lesions: a literature review. Int J Dent. 2010;2010:981072. Epub 2010 Jan 5.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

3 thoughts on “Luo han guo – a source of xylitol

  1. the architect is correct is saying that lo han guo is not xylitol. It comes from monkfruit and is available in different forms. Xylitol is indeed a sugar alcohol and may cause gastrointestinal distress.

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