It seems that whatever you pick up nowadays has some dietary sugar added into the product. But are all sugars the same? Not exactly. The vast world of sugars and sweeteners has grown in the last ten years, with an emphasis on low carb, low calorie, and keto-friendly lifestyles. Everybody is looking for the ‘new thing’ that will satisfy their sweet craving, without the negative health effects of plain ol’ sugar.
Enter: Allulose. A naturally occurring, low calorie sweetener that isn’t manufactured in a lab and has great upsides. A high quality, healthy sugar alternative that’s got potential health benefits and tastes like real sugar. Allulose is being more popularly found in drinks, baking goods, mixes, etc. As its recently made headlines due to some positive FDA legislations surrounding allulose, don’t be surprised if you begin to notice ‘allulose’ all over the market.
What is it?
Allulose is a low calorie, naturally occurring monosaccharide sugar, found in figs, raisins, jackfruit, etc. In specific, it’s a ketohexose, with a modified chemical rotation in its hydroxyl group. All in all, that means that allulose can be absorbed by our bodies, but cannot be metabolized, so it excretes the allulose in our urine.
However, this sweetener isn’t a new discovery. Back in 2012, the FDA marked allulose as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) (1). In 2019, the FDA noted the studied benefits of allulose (which we’ll get into in just a minute), and decided that allulose can be excluded from the total/added sugars labeling of products (2). Products would still have label it as an ingredient, as well as include its (low) caloric value, but this was huge for the food industry. With this new notion, allulose has been a major hit, due to many of its benefits and upsides when compared to other sweeteners on the market.
Upsides of Allulose
Naturally Occurring & Low Calorie
Unlike most other sweeteners, allulose is a naturally occurring sweetener, replacing low quality, chemical sweeteners like aspartame. Rather than ingesting a sweetener that was made in a chemical lab, this sweetener is found in fruits prevalent in nature. Most of allulose is found in fruits like figs, raisins, jackfruit, as well as maple syrup.
It also has about 5-10% of the calories of regular sugar (about 0.4 calories per gram), which is perfect for those watching their dietary intake. And the few calories that allulose consists of aren’t much from carbohydrates, making for an even lighter product. As a small bonus to all of this, allulose doesn’t promote dental decay, meaning no cavities! This sweetener doesn’t interact with your teeth in the same way other sugars do, which is something your dentist will be happy to hear about!
Another important benefit of allulose is that it doesn’t cause the same digestive discomfort that other sweeteners tend to cause. This is mainly due to the fact that allulose isn’t a sugar alcohol, which usually tends to cause more digestive discomfort. And because allulose isn’t a sugar alcohol, it isn’t harmful to your gut microbiome as compared to other chemically made sweeteners.
In fact, the reason that allulose doesn’t cause much digestive discomfort and isn’t harmful to your gut microbiome is because of how it’s absorbed/excreted. Studies show that allulose is absorbed by your body, but not metabolized (7), and that about 90% of it is later excreted through your urine (3). This means that the sweetener isn’t staying in your digestive tract or causing any sort of abnormalities to your body.
If you want benefits that you can actually see, studies have shown that allulose might be helpful in reducing stomach fat by helping suppress abdominal fat collection, as well as reduce lower abdominal fat mass (4, 5). Furthermore, one promising study has shown that allulose can be helpful in preventing/treating obesity and obesity-related conditions (6).
Good Option for Diabetics
As more and more people are diagnosed every year with diabetes, there’s an ever-growing need for sweet alternatives. This is where the hidden benefits of allulose shine!
As mentioned before, allulose doesn’t metabolize in our bodies, which means that it doesn’t cause our blood glucose levels to rise, which is perfect for diabetics. Not only does the sweetener have a low glycemic index (GI), but it also helps slow down the breakdown of high GI carbs. This makes for a better, slower insulin response in our bodies, which is exactly what diabetics, or someone with high blood sugar, are looking for!
A study has shown that allulose helps suppress glucose and insulin production after we eat, which is helpful for those with diabetes (8). Other studies have shown that the sweetener also improves our bodies insulin sensitivity as well as our glucose tolerance (9, 10), which is, again, great for diabetics.
Low Carb and Keto Friendly
One of the main rules when diving into keto? Stay away from those sugars! Because this sweetener has 5-10% of the calories of regular sugar (0.4 calories per gram), the calorie/carb restriction is checked off! On top of that, this sweetener doesn’t metabolize like regular sugar, and is mostly excreted in your urine, so you won’t have to worry about it kicking your body out of ketosis. And, as mentioned before, studies have even shown that allulose might actually be help burn lower abdominal fat (4).