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Is Allulose the Perfect Sweetener?

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A chef sprinkling powdered sugar on chocolate souffle

If you’ve been wishing for a better tasting low-calorie sweetener, allulose might be the answer. This recently FDA-approved sugar substitute boasts a lot of positives. But before adding it to your coffee, it’s important to get the whole picture.

“Allulose is a new option in the list of safe alternatives to sugar,” says University Hospitals registered dietitian Elizabeth Traxler, MS, RDN, LD. “Like many sugar substitutes, allulose is low calorie and doesn’t raise insulin or blood sugar levels, so it can be helpful for weight management and diabetes. The thing that sets allulose apart is it has a texture and flavor similar to table sugar and it doesn’t seem to give the strong aftertaste that is often associated with most low-calorie sugar substitutes.”

What is Allulose?

Allulose is a sugar found naturally in raisins, figs, maple syrup, molasses and wheat. Allulose is commercially produced by heating the sugar molecule fructose and changing its chemical form. The resulting sweetener is available granulated like sugar or in liquid form. You can find it online, but you won’t find it on most store shelves or in many low-calorie foods or beverages – at least not yet.

Allulose and the Body

The body responds to allulose differently than it does to table sugar. Allulose is quickly absorbed and excreted, but isn’t metabolized by the body. Because it isn’t metabolized, allulose doesn’t increase insulin or blood sugar levels, isn’t stored as fat and won’t promote weight gain like sugar does.

The “Sweet” News about Allulose

Sweet and tasty. Allulose is about 70 percent as sweet as sugar and tastes a lot like sugar, with little or no aftertaste. That means you can truly enjoy it as a sugar substitute, including for baking.

Low calorie. Allulose has about one-tenth of the calories in sugar. It contains approximately 1.6 calories per teaspoon compared to 16 calories in 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Safe. Allulose has received the “Generally Recognized as Safe” approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

No tooth decay. Unlike sugar, and like some other sugar substitutes, allulose isn’t metabolized in the mouth, so it doesn’t contribute to tooth decay.

Doesn’t raise insulin and blood sugar levels. Allulose doesn’t raise insulin or blood sugar levels, which makes it an appropriate choice for individuals with diabetes. But the benefits may go far beyond that.

“A few studies have shown that if a certain amount of allulose is consumed with other carbohydrates, there may be a lower blood sugar spike than what is typical for that food on its own. And studies conducted with rats demonstrated that allulose may enhance the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which is important for blood sugar regulation,” says Traxler.

The Drawbacks of Allulose

Side effects. At this point, there aren’t many human studies to show how much allulose may be harmful. While not many side effects have been identified, it’s possible that when consumed in higher amounts, allulose may cause GI upset due to its poor absorption. In addition, some research shows that allulose may promote the growth of certain bacteria associated with poor effects on gut health. In either case, allulose could cause GI symptoms of discomfort, gas or bloating similar to those with other sugar substitutes. Moderation is always the key.

Price. The product is new, has to be commercially produced and has a lot of positive qualities that put it in high demand. That all adds up to a high price. Compared to other sweeteners, allulose is the most expensive. Allulose is almost five times the price of table sugar, more than twice the price of Sweet’N Low, and about 30 percent more expensive than Truvia and Equal.

“If you can afford the cost, allulose has a lot in the plus column. It provides another safe option for adding sweetness without sugar or calories. It may be especially appealing due to its potential to support weight loss and blood sugar management. However, like any other sugar substitute available, we should consume it in moderation as more research is needed to assess its health impact over time,” says Traxler.

Related Links

University Hospitals has a team of clinical dietitians with the expertise to provide counseling and personalized eating plans for anyone looking to enhance their health, meet nutritional goals or lose weight safely and effectively.

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