Last updated January 18, 2017 by Lisa Richards, CNC

Stevia vs. Xylitol: Which Sweetener Is Best?

stevia rebaudiana herb as sugar replacement

One of the hardest parts of beating a Candida overgrowth is overcoming a sweet tooth. To some extent, we’re not to blame – our bodies are programmed to take advantage of high-energy, sugary food whenever it becomes available. When humans were growing our own food this wasn’t a problem, but we live in an age where sugar is much more readily available. Quitting sugar now is a battle against both our evolutionary tendencies and our psychological addiction.

Reducing your sugar intake is a crucial part of fighting a Candida overgrowth. Candida albicans needs sugar both for cellular growth and for its transition into fungal form. Cutting back on sugar is one of the first steps to restoring balance to your gut.

Today I’m going to examine two of the sweeteners that I recommend you use instead of sugar during your Candida treatment. Stevia and Xylitol are both found naturally (although the final product you use has been through some processing), and they both have tremendous advantages for those of us fighting a sweet tooth.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is found in raspberries, oats, mushrooms, and lots of other common foods. However, the xylitol you find in the store is usually derived from corn. I don’t usually recommend corn on the Candida diet, as it is almost all GMO. However in this case it is relatively easy to find Xylitol that is derived from non-GMO corn. Here is a good example. You can also find Xylitol derived from birch bark.

Pros of Xylitol

  • Xylitol doesn’t raise your blood sugar like regular sugar (that’s why it is used so often in diabetic-friendly foods).
  • Xylitol reduces the amount of acetaldehyde that Candida produces. This can help to reduce typical Candida symptoms like headaches and nausea.
  • Xylitol is good for your teeth because it doesn’t feed bacteria in your mouth like regular sugar.
  • It is easy to find a brand of Xylitol that is derived from non-GMO corn.
  • Xylitol contains roughly half the calories of regular sugar, and far fewer carbohydrates.
  • Testing of Xylitol has shown it to be very safe, and it is approved by the FDA.

Cons of Xylitol

  • Eating large amounts of Xylitol can lead to stomach cramps and occasional diarrhea. Symptoms typically disappear if you reduce the amount that you are using.
  • Xylitol is potentially very toxic for household animals, particularly dogs. Keep your Xylitol well hidden from your pet, and call your vet immediately if they ingest it.

Stevia

Stevia comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, native to Paraguay but now grown across the world. The sweetener itself comes from either the whole leaf or from the compound rebaudioside-A that is found in it. The taste is very sweet, but slightly different from regular sugar.

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I recommend that you find a brand made of 100% pure Stevia leaf, like the one in this list of Candida-safe supplements. Many popular brands of Stevia actually contain other sweeteners like Maltodextrin.

Pros of Stevia

  • Stevia has a very low Glycemic Index and does not spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does. It is less likely to feed your Candida overgrowth.
  • Stevia contains zero calories.
  • Stevia is so sweet that you only need to use a tiny amount. One packet can go a long way.
  • The best Stevia brands are 100% natural and use the whole Stevia leaf.

Cons of Stevia

  • Many Stevia brands contain Maltodextrin or dextrose – read the labels carefully! Always choose a brand that is 100% pure Stevia.
  • The FDA has approved rebaudioside-A, a compound derived from stevia. However it has only approved stevia itself as a dietary supplement, not as a food additive. There is a widespread belief that this is a result of lobbying from the sugar industry. Meanwhile, Stevia was fully approved by the EU in 2011.
  • Reported side effects of stevia include mild bloating and nausea. However these are quite unusual.

Which Should You Choose?

Whether you use Stevia or Xylitol really comes down to you as an individual. Both are great for use on a Candida diet, so it really depends which flavor you prefer. Remember to use them as part of a broader Candida treatment program – our Ultimate Candida Diet program provides a complete timeline and plan for beating your Candida.

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Comments

  1. Bansaw says:

    I used both Xylitol and Stevia. Stevia typicaly has an aftertaste but Xylitol doesn’t. It looks like sugar, feels like sugar and tastes like it.
    Whenever I get a sweettooth craving I simply suck on a spoonful of Xylitol and the craving goes. Great stuff.

    1. Ane says:

      Which brand is good and easy to find?

      1. Cheryl Banda says:

        Xylitol by Now Foods is the best. I normally just go to their website and order it. It taste just like regular sugar!😋

  2. isa says:

    I have read that stevia promotes candida growth (Dr. Zoltan Rona’s Candida Guide) and after 20 years of battling candida, have found that I’m sensitive to stevia, especially the ground leaf powder. Now I wonder if it’s because of the corn connection?! After living in Japan where Xylitol is widely used, I’m used to Xylitol in chewing gum, but now try to stay away from using any sweeteners at all.

    1. Hi Isa
      Dr. Zoltan’s information is unfortunately out of date. Here is a 2008 study showing that Stevia extract actually has antimicrobial properties and can even kill Candida Albicans.
      http://www.tjpr.org/vol7_no4/747_jayaraman.php
      However you are right to stay away from sweeteners completely if you can – it’s just that so many people struggle to give up their sweet tooth so we have to find an alternative!
      Lisa

    2. April says:

      Isa, I too am sensitive to both Stevia and Xylitol.

      1. I started chewing Spry gum (with Xylitol), and developed Thrush in my mouth for months!

      2. I started drinking a protein powder shake (with Stevia), and developed severe systemic candida that almost landed me in the hospital. I went to 2 MDs who didn’t have a clue, and they sent me to an oncologist! But I finally figured out on my own what was happening. I stopped drinking the shake, and started treating myself for candida (with Oreganol P73 and Coconut Oil). Wouldn’t you know the symptoms started reversing immediately! No Xylitol OR Stevia for me!

      1. Kellie says:

        Hi How did you treat candida with oregano oil and coconut oil. I believe my Aunt has systemic candida, she is 72 and suffering badly with eczema and soreness in all joints, she loves all the bad carbs out there. Any help at all I would appreciate. Thanks, Kellie

    3. Melanie Harp says:

      I am reading, Inner Transformations Using Essential Oils by Dr LeAnne Deardeuff. She says stevia discourages Candida. Just read that today.

  3. Lynda says:

    There is a product called XyliMelts, they are time-released discs that adhere to your gums. And they really do adhere, and stay there. You can even sleep with them. It stimulates saliva, if you have a dry mouth, hopefully reducing the risk of cavities. The ingredients state no animal products, fermentabl sugar, corn protein or preservatives. They are made by OraHealth. The pharmacy does not carry them OTC, but you can call your pharmacy, and will order them and have them the next day. $8.39 for 40 discs. They are a God-send!

  4. Cat says:

    I have tried making baked goods from Xylitol but they always crumble or the consistency is weird. Does anyone have any recipes for Xylitol that do not taste dry and/or the ingredients stick together? I have looked for cookies or other desserts in the health stores made with Xylitol, but have not found any besides mints and gum and ice cream (Clemmies).
    Mahalo,
    Cat

    1. Jan says:

      I have had the same issue when trying to replace sugar with xylitol in recipes. It’s always good to search for recipes specifically created for using xylitol. I tried this recipe and it turned out really great! http://www.healthyeatingontherun.com/homemade-brownies.html

      1. Stacy Echeverria says:

        I use coconut palm sugar and have had no issues with it when baking.

    2. Adriana says:

      I use stevia in my baking and every recipe turns out great. Sometimes I use half sugar and half stevia in my recipes.

    3. April Walsh says:

      I use a little xanthan gum to help with the crumbly effect.

  5. Laura says:

    I mix xylitol with mashed up avocado and 1/2 tsp of vanilla, or add cocao too, taste just like vanilla or chocolate pudding.

    I also add xylitol to nutbutters or tahini with a few drops of vanilla when I have sugar cravings

    I add xylitol to almond milk, hot or cold.

    Laura

  6. Vicki says:

    I have a severe corn allergy, so I use a 100% birch derived Xylitol. I’m also gluten free, so I had thought that the crumbly consistency of baked goods was due to using gluten free flours.
    I’d like to know if coconut sugar is ok to use on the Candida diet. It’s very low glycemic, since coconut is anti-fungal, wondered if the sugar would be okay to use,
    Thanks!

  7. ElleJ says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Great information on these two sweeteners. I had read somewhere that Xylitol can lower blood sugar drastically, like sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol, which is why it is so dangerous for pets. Since I am hypoglycemic, I have avoided Xylitol for this reason. Is this accurate information? Thank you!

  8. Denise Suzuki says:

    What about coconut sugar? Can that be a better choice?

    1. Coconut sugar does have a slightly lower Glycemic Index than regular sugar, and it does contain more fiber and nutrients. However it is still not appropriate to use during the Candida diet. You should stick to Stevia or Xylitol.

  9. janet jones says:

    I have been cooking with Liquid Vegetable Glycerin instead of sugar, for baked goods, it was recommnended in a Candidia control cookbook in all the recepies for deserts, and internet research shows no blood suger spikes. How you you feel about that product?

    1. Vegetable glycerine should be OK, but I would try not to use it in large amounts.

  10. Lori says:

    Thank you for the information. I don’t particulary like Stevia and I think I’m having a reaction to xylitol. What do you know about yacon syrup? It’s VERY mild in regards to its sweetness, but I feel like it does the trick – for me at least.
    Thanks again!

  11. Terese Benzie says:

    I really need help with suggestions on what to eat. I am allergic to garlic, eggs, sesame seeds, certain nuts. No flour, really only complex carbs.
    I eat a plant based protein shake with stevia that helps sustain me so I do crave. I use Standard Process “protefood b4 I go to bed so I stay asleep. I am not breaking down carbs, if I eat them for dinner I do not sleep & I have restless legs. I end up taking probiotic, 1 Tylenol, and 4 Hylands restless leg tabs under my tongue. I will eventually fall asleep, but now my back hurts and I have a Tylenol hang over. Does anyone have something that can help me?
    In desperate need, Terese

  12. dkaj says:

    Restless leg syndrome has been associated with Celiac Disease. Do a google search on the two, and it will show up. It may be if this is indeed celiac, that the damage being done or that had been done, is bringing on your other intolerances.

  13. Darren says:

    Good article. You forgot to mention a con of stevia is the bitter aftertaste. There’s different brands of either product but most I’ve tried xylitol’s the winner for taste.

  14. Is maltitol bad for you or can you use it instead of xylitol? Jorge Cruise recommends it in ice cream making.

  15. Stacy Echeverria says:

    I actually use coconut palm sugar. I prefer it over xylitol and stevia and it is great in baking. It is low glycemic as well.

    1. Rose Shelmerdine says:

      As Lisa mentioned in another comment, coconut palm sugar is more nutritious and the glycemic index is slightly lower than regular sugar but it is nevertheless still pretty high. In most respects, coconut palm sugar is very much the same as regular sugar! Coconut sugar will feed Candida because it is high in carbohydrate. If you don’t have Candida, I guess you’re ok, but if you are trying to get rid of Candida then please please please don’t eat coconut sugar!!! It is delicious though, I know…. 😂

  16. Nik says:

    I have started using FOS powder in place of sugar and apart from a bit of bloating, I find this helps a lot – as it helps with the sugar cravings plus it’s a prebiotic. What are your thoughts on FOS?

    1. Sonja says:

      FOS feeds Candida massively. Stay away from it. I got a major relapse after using FOS. FOS feeds equally the good but also the bad bacteria, Candida and parasites. So it depends what prevails in your gut flora.

  17. Steve Weber says:

    On the matter of xylitol made from non-GMO corn, why not just purchase xylitol made from birch? Xylitol USA has great deals on Canadian birch xylitol, and I’m sure there are other brands of xylitol derived from birch as well.

  18. Linda says:

    I think to much is being said against sugar. Just like 50 or so years ago when all fats were vilified, now we are learning natural fats as found in nature are healthy. It is the chemical processing that is causing the problems. We need to go back to natural extraction methods. If anyone remembers physical science in high school, we isolated different elements of compounds by boiling them. Every substance in a compound has a unique boiling point. We did NOT use chemicals to extract the various elements of compounds. Almost everything we eat today is derived from chemicals or extracted using chemicals. Mankind has been eating sugar since the dawn of time. Granted though, not from dawn to dusk like we do now. Like our grandparents & great grandparents always said: everything in moderation. Cake, candy, pie etc. is not new – they have been around since the dawn of time. The difference today is that we add much more sugar to these recipes then in past generations and we eat much more of it then past generations. When I make treats like pie, cakes, cookies etc., I use 1/2 to 2/3 less of the sugar then the recipes call for & they taste great. I also usually only eat these items after a healthy home cooked meal (no processed foods laden with chemicals, herbicides, pesticides or grown with synthetic fertilizers or factory farmed meats. I just had my annual physical and my numbers are great, including my glucose & A1C & I’m close to 60 years old. I never got into processed foods & have always cooked my own food from scratch including treats like pie, cake, cookies etc.

    1. K.C says:

      Well, I’m only 43 but old fashioned in my thinking. I agree with Linda. We have become a processed sugar addicted generation. Since I’ve been on the candida diet, I read every single ingredient on every single label. I never really paid attention to how much sugar we consume everyday. It’s practically in EVERYTHING! I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, and would love for times to be simpler like yesteryear. So now I make almost everything from scratch, which consumes most of my time, but offers more satisfaction. I do use Xylitol and Stevia, prefer taste of Xylitol over Stevia, but the Stevia doesn’t cause gastrointestinal pain and bloating. I will continue to use more natural sweetners like date paste, honey, maple syrup coconut sugar and stevia once we overcome this candida problem. I will probably also use raw organic sugar occasionally. I will most likely discontinue the Xylitol and products similar to it after reading the possible bad side effects.

    2. Rose Shelmerdine says:

      Hi Linda,
      I totally agree with you that chemical interference and excessive consumption is to blame for the damage that sugar causes, rather than the sugar itself.
      In fact, I think that the abundance of chronic illnesses which people are suffering today are very likely caused by the chemicals in all our food – including vegetables – and even the polluted air we breathe and water we drink.
      Humans do need some sugar, just like they need healthy fats. However, I can’t imagine it was very accessible at the dawn of time (to steal your words). I agree that it was probably consumed but I imagine it would have been a rare treat.
      So I think you make a very relevant point that people need to be aware of. I was a bit taken aback, however, by reading your comment on this particular (Candida) website. I’m not sure if you suffer from Candida yourself, but for those who do, sugar really truly is absolutely out of the question if there’s aby hope of getting rid of it. I do think autoimmune diseases (usually associated with Candida) may well ultimately be the result of the toxicity of our food and environment, but nevertheless, now that we have the condition, now that it DOES exist, it really is necessary to avoid sugar. For example, you probably wouldnt tell people with diabetes that sugar is not actually a problem for them – because we KNOW that it is… Their pancreas is not working as it should be and there’s no getting around this fact. In the same way, for someone with Candida sugar just isn’t an option because it feeds it.
      I hope that you can understand that sugar really isn’t suitable for people with Candida and I think it is important to recognise that on this particular website it is not about ‘sugar blaming’ it’s just that most people on here actually CAN’T eat sugar because it directly feeds their Candida which will then thrive and wreak havoc in the gut.
      Although what you said is very valid, I feel it would be better to post this kind if information on other sites as it does not apply to Candida and I felt your comment was a little insensitive to those who are really suffering from it. I am sure your u had good intentions, I just wanted to point this out.
      Thank you for reading my comment,
      Rose

  19. Joel Daniel says:

    Mankind has not been eating sugar since the dawn of time. It wasn’t even introduced to western civilization until the 11th century. At any rate, this is an article about curing Candida overgrowth and no amount of sugar-processed or otherwise (be it sugarcane or beet derived) is appropriate

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