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Sugar without the calories? Is it too good to be true?

It's no secret that eating too much sugar is bad for you, but that doesn't seem to stop people reaching for sweet treats every time a craving hits.

Unfortunately this can sometimes create a cycle of guilt - we know we shouldn't be adding that extra spoonful of sugar to our cup of tea or cereal, yet we do anyway for that instant sweet fix and feel bad about it after.

But what if you found out that there existed an alternative to sugar that had 40 per cent fewer calories and 75 per cent less carbohydrates?

Introducing Xylitol, a natural product originally derived from birch bark and now usually obtained from corn.

It tastes just like sugar but is much better for you and some doctors even recommend it to diabetic patients as it has almost no effect on blood sugar levels.

And unlike some other alternatives on the market, it does not contain aspartame - which is an artificial sweetener that has been known to give people side effects including a racing heart and anxiety.

In addition, it has a very low glycaemic index (GI) of over seven per cent. For those of you who don't know, GI measures the effects that carbohydrates in food have on blood sugar levels.

High GI options release energy quickly into the blood, often causing people to feel hungry and tired soon after eating them. Low GI food, on the other hand, slowly releases energy - keeping people fuller for longer.

Still not convinced? Some people avoid alternative sweeteners as they are worried the flavour will differ from sugar or they will be left with a bad aftertaste.

However Xylitol will not leave you with bitterness in the mouth - it does just the opposite. Recommended by dentists, it actually freshens breath and fights cavities.

But the best thing of all? Now you can add that spoonful of sweet goodness to your morning cuppa or bowl of cereal without feeling guilty.

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