We get this question a lot: what's the difference between stevia and xylitol? Both are approved sweeteners in Phase I of the SHAPE ReClaimed program, but they are very different. Here’s what you need to know:
Stevia is an herb that tastes sweet, but it does not look or act at all like regular sugar. It is best used to add a sweet flavor. In cooking, it will not caramelize, turn brown when baked or create the same texture in baked goods as would sugar. It also cannot be replaced one-to-one with sugar because it is significantly sweeter than sugar. One cup of SweetLeaf Stevia powder would be equal to eight cups of sugar in its level of sweetness. So, when we say a little goes a long way and use sparingly, we mean it!
Stevia does not have an effect on blood sugar or digestion, though some may still be sensitive. If you’ve never tried stevia before, start with a little in some coffee or tea and pay attention to how you feel. We discourage adding stevia to water. If everything you drink is sweet, it can trick your brain and trigger sugar cravings – one of the things you may be trying to overcome.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that’s made from corn cobs and birch trees. It looks and acts very much like regular sugar. It is slightly less sweet and can be replaced one-to-one with sugar in many recipes. However, it does not caramelize, it doesn’t dissolve as well, and can make baked goods softer than if they were made with sugar.
Xylitol has a slight effect on blood sugar and can cause digestive upset (gas, bloating and loose stools are common). It seems to affect people differently. Some can consume several tablespoons in a day (which we don’t recommend) and feel fine. Others can have a mere teaspoon and have to spend more time than they’d like in the bathroom. Just like with stevia, try a little and pay attention to how you feel.
Xylitol works better in baked goods (like the Lemon Poppyseed Bars) than stevia, but can also be used in yogurt, smoothies and beverages, though it will not likely dissolve all the way.
SHAPE-Certified Recipe Tips:
- If a recipe calls for xylitol only, it cannot be replaced with equal parts stevia. You can try using the correct stevia conversion, but it won't always work successfully.
- If xylitol and stevia work interchangeably, their conversions will be included in the recipe (like in Panfakes).
- If a recipe calls for stevia only, it can be replaced with xylitol, but you will need a larger amount for the necessary sweetness (use SweetLeaf’s conversion chart to know how much. Xylitol can be used one-to-one with sugar).
Check out our SHAPE-Certified Recipes here. These have been professionally tested and formatted.
Check out our dessert recipes here. Only recipes with images have been professionally tested and formatted.
With all sweeteners, always use sparingly. Constantly drinking sweetened water will have a negative long-term effect on cravings and metabolism. Also, dessert isn’t necessary after every meal. If you feel intense sweet cravings, have a serving of fruit, drink some plain water, do some jumping jacks, eat a pickle, call a friend, or any number of healthy things. Your mind and your body will be grateful and eventually the cravings will subside. The less sugar you eat, the less you crave.