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Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

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Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

Postby cinnamonboy » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:34 pm

Most commercial xylitol comes from either corn or birch. Is one better than the other? Are there even any differences between the two?
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Re: Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

Postby xylitolexpert » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:37 pm

There is really not a huge difference between birch xylitol and corn xylitol, it basically comes down to cost. Birch is typically more expensive to produce in the United States, because we have an abundance of corn and not nearly as much of the right kind of birch trees.
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Re: Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

Postby debbieshw30 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:16 pm

But there is a company advertising that birch is actually better for you. They claim that all of their xylitol comes from birch trees grown in the usa, and that it tastes better and is healthier. I'm not naive enough to swallow this hook, line, and sinker, but it does beg the question -- is there any difference at all?
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Re: Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

Postby xylitolexpert » Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:38 pm

Xylitol from corn and xylitol from birch are virtually identical, so there's really not going to be a health or flavor advantage of one over the other. Aside from environmental & organic considerations (ie sustainable forestry, GMO plants), corn xylitol and birch xylitol are both great alternatives to sucrose (table sugar) or artificial sweeteners. Here's a bit more info:

Regardless of the source, xylitol starts with molecules called “xylan”, which are naturally occurring, and may be found in oak trees, the human body, and plants the world over. Xylan is a polysaccharide that can be hydrolyzed into D-xylose, which is sometimes simply referred to as "wood sugar". D-xylose then goes through a hydrogenation process by which xylitol is produced. While this is a resource-intensive process, most organisms - and even our own bodies - produce xylitol.

From a chemical standpoint, xylitol made from corn and xylitol made from birch are essentially the same. There are companies out there who will swear up the hill and down the dale that their xylitol is the purest and "bestest" out there, but the truth is most of that is just marketing (do you blame them?). Either way you go, corn or birch, you're getting healthy xylitol. We suggest people look for xylitol that is:

A. At least food grade, or pharmaceutical grade if available & not cost-prohibitive
B. Made from non-GMO corn
C. Made from birch that is taken from sustainable forests

One other caveat is about the made in USA claims regarding birch. Our research indicates that there simply is not enough of the right kind of birch in the USA to completely meet the demands of the industry. If you look carefully, you'll often discover disclaimers or evasise language which will concede the while some birch xylitol comes from the USA, some also may be sourced from Canada or elsewhere.
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Re: Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

Postby debbieshw30 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:22 pm

OK, just wanted to give you guys an update on the corn/birch thing. I found an online retailer (who shall remain nameless) but let's just say they advertise their xylitol as being "fresh" lol - anyway, it's made from birch so I gave it a shot. I can tell you right now, I may be crazy but it tasted stale to me. I've tried the xylosweet brand from this site & though it was pretty good - kind of expensive compared to sugar, but was really natural and sweet. Definitely a lot "fresher" tasting than that other stuff. I don't know if all birch xylitol tastes bad, or if corn xylitol is better than birch, but my experience def made me want to just stick with the corn.
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Re: Corn vs Birch: Is one better than the other?

Postby xylitolexpert » Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:07 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience, Deb! While we don't have an overwhelming answer to the question of whether Xylitol from corn is better than Xylitol from birch, or vice versa, it's always nice to hear from people who have an opinion one way or the other. Oh, and PS - we appreciate that you did not mention the other brand you tried! After all, so long as people discover the health benefits of xylitol, it doesn't matter where they get it!
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