Allulose, a rare type of sugar that is found in some dried fruits, brown sugar, and maple syrup, is just one of the many natural sweeteners that’s vying for traditional table sugar’s place in our pantries. But should you try it, and if you do, what can you expect?
Related Reading: What Happened When I Said Goodbye to Sugar, and Hello to Whole30
What Is Allulose? And What Are Its Benefits?
Unlike table sugar (or sucrose), which is a disaccharide made from two monosaccharides (glucose and fructose), allulose (or psicose) is a monosaccharide (or simple sugar) that has just 70 percent of the sweetness of sucrose.
Like fellow sweetener erythritol, allulose has gained popularity among many on the ketogenic diet or other low-carb diets.
Allulose, which looks a lot like regular sugar when granulated, contains about 0.4 calories per gram. When you compare that to sugar, which has 4 calories per gram, that’s a significant difference. And, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming allulose has little to no effect on the blood glucose or insulin levels.
“Allulose has a low glycemic index and does not raise blood sugar in the same way as other sweeteners, such as Nutrasweet and saccharin, which have also been linked to health issues,” says Oz Garcia, a New York-based nutritionist.
Anthony's Allulose Sweetener, $11.99 on Amazon
Consider this natural sweetener as a sugar replacement.
It is said to taste like white sugar too, with no off flavors and a nearly identical level of sweetness.
Where Does Allulose Come From?
Naturally, allulose is found in certain fruits, such as jackfruit, figs, raisins, and kiwi fruit—but since it can only be extracted in small quantities, it’s also produced in scientific labs. In 2019, with more and more Americans looking to lessen their sugar intake, manufacturers have been working to up commercial production of allulose in order to meet a higher demand.
Related Reading: A Guide to Stevia, Another Natural Sweetener
Is Allulose Healthy?
Because allulose is lower in sugar and calories than sugar, it’s often thought of as a healthier sweetener alternative. But, since science surrounding allulose is still fairly limited, opinions among nutrition experts are split as to whether the sweetener is safe to consume.
Some experts, such as Mary Jane Troyer, a registered dietitian and certified nutritionist in New York City, are against the idea that people should turn to sweetener substitutes, rather than limiting their sugar intake altogether.
“The public does not need another low-calorie sugar substitute to lower their sugar intake. They just need to eat less foods with added sugar. Period,” Troyer says. “To do that, you have to lower your desire for sweet flavors. And so, eliminating—rather than substituting—is the best way to do that.”
Garcia, on the other hand, is concerned about the impact allulose could have on your digestion, especially since “artificial sweeteners have been known to affect our gut microbiome,” he says. “Until we have enough information, it may be wise to keep consumption to moderate use.”
However, when asked if allulose is generally safe to ingest, Garcia adds: “Allulose seems to be relatively safe—although there is not enough research published yet to be certain.”
Amy Shapiro, a New York City-based registered dietician, agrees with Garcia’s line of thinking, saying: “So far, research shows [allulose] is healthy to consume since it has anti-inflammatory properties, is naturally occurring, and doesn’t spike blood sugar levels or lead to sweet cravings,” Shapiro says. “It also may help to decrease belly fat and therefore may fight against obesity.”
When deciding whether to incorporate allulose into your diet, it’s also helpful to note that this low-calorie sugar substitute isn’t yet permitted for use in Europe, Shapiro explains. “More research is being done since this sweetener is fairly new to the market, but is still not widely available,” she adds.
Moral of the story? Until more science on the sweetener is available, it’s probably best that you consume allulose in moderation, and make sugar reduction a higher priority than simply relying on sugar alternatives.
Header image courtesy of Anthony's/Amazon