Is allulose a healthful alternative to sugar?
According to a 2019 study, allulose has "the bulk and the mouth fill of table sugar with reduced caloric content," making it an attractive sweetener. This study also suggests that scientists need to carry out more high quality research to confirm the long term safety and effectiveness of sweeteners, such as allulose.
Continue reading to explore the benefits and risks of adding allulose to your diet.
What is allulose?
Allulose is a lower calorie alternative to everyday sugar.
Allulose is a type of sugar that resembles fructose, which is the sugar that occurs naturally in fruit.
It is available in a granulated form and looks like everyday sugar. The scientific name for sugar is sucrose. Allulose is a low calorie sweetener that has 70% of the sweetness of sucrose.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allulose provides about 0.4 calories per gram (g), which is significantly lower than the 4 calories per g in sugar. In addition, the body absorbs allulose but does not metabolize it into glucose, so it is virtually calorie free. According to the FDA, allulose has little to no effect on blood glucose or insulin levels.
Scientists can produce allulose in the laboratory, but it is also found naturally in some foods, such as dried fruits, brown sugar, and maple syrup.
Other names for allulose include psicose, d-psicose, d-allulose, or pseudo-fructose.
Is allulose good for you?
Allulose contains fewer calories than sugar and appears to have no effect on blood glucose levels. This means it could be a healthful alternative to sugar.
Doctors agree that sugar is a significant contributory factor to obesity. Obesity has associations with metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases. Substituting high caloric sugars with a low calorie alternative, such as allulose, may help control obesity rates.
A small-scale study from 2015 suggests that allulose may have benefits for type 2 diabetes and obesity. The researchers report that allulose may help to control glucose levels and improve insulin resistance.
Much of the research into the effects of allulose have used animal models. In one human study, researchers looked at whether allulose could help reduce body fat, affect blood cholesterol, and affect markers of diabetes.
The results showed that those who consumed a high dose allulose beverage had significant decreases in body fat percentage, body fat mass, and body mass index (BMI) compared with those taking a placebo.
Researchers used CT scans to examine changes in the participants' abdominal fat area. At the end of the study, the people who consumed the high dose allulose drink had a significant decrease in total fat areas compared with those taking a placebo.
The study also reported that allulose had little effect on the levels of fat in people's blood. Levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were unchanged in all groups.
The study also found no differences in the markers linked with diabetes, including fasting blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin, blood glucose, and insulin levels between the allulose and placebo groups.
The results of this study show that replacing sugar with allulose may offer potential benefits for those who are overweight or obese. Only a small number of volunteers participated in this study, so researchers need to carry out further studies in a more diverse study population to confirm these results.
How to use allulose
The FDA have approved of the use of allulose in many frozen desserts.
Allulose is not as sweet as sugar. People replacing sugar with allulose may find they need to use more allulose to achieve the same amount of sweetness they would get from sugar and other sugar substitutes.
The FDA have approved the use of allulose in:
- selected bakery products, such as sweet rolls, cakes, and pastries
- nonalcoholic beverages
- chewing gum
- confections and frostings
- frozen dairy desserts, such as ice cream, soft serve, and sorbet
- yogurt and frozen yogurt
- salad dressings
- pudding and fillings
- hard and soft candies
- jams and jellies
- sweet sauces and syrups
- fat based cream
- medical foods
Possible side effects
According to the FDA, people may experience some abdominal discomfort from consuming large quantities of allulose, but this side effect is not toxic and usually temporary.
In one study, researchers investigated the possible side effects of consuming allulose occasionally or regularly. People reported abdominal side effects when consuming increasing doses of allulose, including:
- abdominal pain
- decreased appetite
- passing gas
- abdominal sounds
Allulose vs. alternatives
Allulose is a type of sugar that is found naturally in certain foods.
Other sugar substitutes that people use include:
Except for stevia, these sugar substitutes are not natural. Manufacturers make aspartame and neotame by combining two amino acids (protein building blocks found naturally in the body) and make sucralose from sucrose or table sugar.
The FDA has approved these sweeteners for use in humans and classified them as generally recognized as safe. Many manufacturers of beverages, dietary products, drugs, mouthwashes, and cosmetics use these low and no calorie sweeteners instead of sugar.
Manufacturers claim that artificial sweeteners can help people control hunger and appetite, lose weight, and manage diabetes. Not all scientists agree, but sweeteners are among the most researched ingredients in the food supply. Numerous medical associations and international regulatory bodies have deemed them safe when consumed in usual amounts.
Can you use allulose in a keto or paleo diet?
A person following a paleo diet can eat allulose that occurs in unprocessed foods.
The paleo diet consists of eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, and organ meats and excludes any highly processed foods.
People following a paleo diet can eat allulose, but only if they consume it from natural, unprocessed food.
Dried fruits, brown sugar, and maple syrup contain allulose.
The keto diet is very low in carbohydrate, moderate in protein, and very high in fat. Allulose is a carbohydrate, but it does not provide calories or raise blood glucose compared with sucrose and is keto compatible.
Doctors suggest that sugar is one factor that contributes to obesity. Lowering the amount of sugar a person eats and substituting sugar with low or no calorie sweeteners are two ways to help prevent obesity.
Compared with sugar, allulose is a low calorie carbohydrate. Some researchers suggest that allulose can help control weight and diabetes. People following the keto diet can use allulose to replace sugar.
People are searching for affordable and safe sweeteners to replace sugar. Eating a large amount of allulose may cause digestive discomfort, but there are few other known side effects. The FDA has approved other sugar substitutes, such as stevia, aspartame, and sucralose, as safe when used in moderation.
If a person wishes to try allulose or other sweeteners, they are available to purchase from drug stores, some supermarkets, and online stores.