Is Allulose a Healthy Sweetener?

<p>Fototocam / Getty Images</p>

Fototocam / Getty Images

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Barnes, RDN

Allulose, also known as D-allulose and d-psicose, is a type of sugar that’s naturally found in certain foods, such as figs, raisins, and kiwis, and is also commercially produced from beet sugar or corn using specific enzymes. Allulose was discovered by scientists in 1940, but it’s recently grown in popularity as the demand for sugar substitutes continues to increase.

It’s 70% as sweet as table sugar (sucrose) and provides just 0.4 calories per gram, which equates to 10% of the calories found in table sugar.

Unlike other low- and zero-calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame and sucralose, the taste of allulose closely resembles that of sugar, with no bitter aftertaste. It’s also safe for baking and melts just like table sugar. For these reasons, allulose is popular amongst consumers looking for a healthier alternative to sugar.

Because allulose has no impact on blood sugar and is much lower in calories than regular sugar, its use has been associated with several health benefits, such as reducing blood sugar and insulin levels in people with and without diabetes.

Here’s more about allulose, including its potential health benefits, safety, and how to use it in your diet.

May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Allulose has a similar taste to table sugar, but doesn’t impact blood sugar levels, making it a smart choice for those with diabetes.

Sucrose has a glycemic index of 65, while allulose has a glycemic index of zero. This means that allulose has no effect on blood sugar.

Not only does allulose not raise blood sugar, but studies show that allulose may have blood sugar-lowering effects in people with and without diabetes.

A 2023 review of eight studies found that allulose consumption reduced post-meal blood sugar levels in healthy people. The review noted that both five and 10-gram servings of allulose were effective in lowering blood sugar levels compared to control groups.

Another 2023 study that included 24 people with type 2 diabetes demonstrated that when the participants consumed a diabetic diet of three meals containing 8.5 grams of allulose per day for two days, their post-meal blood sugar levels were significantly lower compared to when the participants consumed a normal diabetic diet free from allulose.

The study findings also suggested that allulose may help protect the pancreatic cells that secrete insulin by reducing the body’s need for this hormone, therefore putting less stress on the pancreas.

Researchers also hypothesize that allulose may inhibit the movement of glucose into circulation and reduce the absorption of glucose in the small intestine, thus suppressing increases in blood sugar.

Though several other studies have shown that allulose may have blood sugar-lowering properties in people with and without diabetes, larger studies are needed to fully understand how allulose could be used to improve blood sugar levels.

May Enhance Weight Loss

Because allulose contains just 10% of the calories found in table sugar, it could be helpful for those who are trying to shed excess body fat.

While there are many factors that influence body weight and body fat levels, over-consuming calories is the main reason why people gain weight. For those who consume high amounts of added sugar, swapping table sugar and other sweeteners, like maple syrup, agave, and brown sugar, for allulose can reduce overall calorie intake, which can encourage fat loss.

What’s more, some research suggests that allulose may have anti-obesity effects. A 2018 study that included 121 Korean adults found that the participants who consumed beverages containing eight or 14 grams of allulose per day for 12 weeks experienced significant reductions in body fat percentage and body fat mass compared to a placebo group who consumed sucralose beverages. The 14-gram per day allulose group also experienced significant reductions in total abdominal and subcutaneous fat areas measured by CT scans compared to the placebo group.

Study findings suggest that consuming allulose may enhance post-meal fat-burning and inhibit dietary fat absorption in the small intestine. However, human studies are limited at this time and more research is needed.

Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Too Much Sugar

May Improve Other Aspects of Health

Replacing caloric sweeteners with allulose may improve several aspects of health. High intake of added sugar, including table sugar, corn syrup, and other added sweeteners, is linked to a variety of health issues, from liver disease to cavities.

Because allulose is not metabolized, provides minimal calories, and does not impact dental health, the FDA concluded that allulose can be excluded from the “Total Sugars” and “Added Sugars” on Nutrition Facts labels.

Cutting back on your added sugar intake and using safe, low-calorie sweeteners like allulose may reduce your risk of developing several health conditions and improve the symptoms of others.

For example, diets high in added sugar have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, and other health issues.

Because allulose is so low in calories and passed through the body unmetabolized, it isn’t associated with the same health issues as other sweeteners.

In fact, roughly 70% of allulose is absorbed into the bloodstream within one hour, but is excreted intact in your urine within 24 hours. The remaining 30% is transported to the large intestine, then excreted intact within 48 hours.

Safety and Potential Side Effects of Allulose

Allulose is generally regarded as safe by the FDA, meaning it hasn’t been connected to any adverse health risks.

That said, consuming high doses of allulose could lead to side effects like nausea and diarrhea.

In a 2018 study, it was found that ingestion of 0.5 grams of allulose per kilogram (kg) of body weight caused severe diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea. However, no symptoms were reported until a dose of 0.4 grams per kg of body weight was reached.

This led the researchers to suggest a maximum single dose and maximum total daily intake of allulose of 0.4 grams per kg of body weight and 0.9 grams per kg of body weight, respectively.

This means that a 150-pound person should keep their allulose intake under 61 grams per day. To put this into perspective, a 150-pound person would need to consume nearly 13.5 teaspoons of allulose sweetener to reach that maximum intake level.

Tips for Consuming Allulose

One of the reasons why allulose is so popular is because it tastes very similar to table sugar, without the bitter aftertaste associated with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. It’s also safe for baking and crystallizes in the same way as sugar does.

Allulose can be used in the same way as table sugar. It even caramelizes, just like regular sugar.

Here are a few ways to use allulose in your diet:

  • Use allulose to sweeten your morning coffee or tea

  • Replace table sugar with allulose in baked goods like cakes and cookies

  • Try making a low-carb caramel using allulose, vanilla extract, salt, and heavy cream

  • Make low-carb cocktails using simple syrup made with allulose

  • Prepare low-sugar jams, jellies, and fruit compotes by swapping sugar for allulose

Allulose is ideal for baking because it closely resembles the properties of regular sugar, including browning and crystallization.

Most recipes suggest using allulose as a 1:1 replacement for regular sugar to make low-sugar baked goods like cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and pies.

You can use allulose in almost any recipe that calls for sugar, so don’t be afraid to experiment with allulose in your kitchen

A Quick Review

Allulose is a very low-calorie sweetener with a strong safety profile and minimal adverse side effects. Unlike other sugar substitutes, it tastes similar to regular sugar and has many applications in the kitchen.

Because it’s excreted from the body unmetabolized, it doesn’t impact blood sugar levels, making it a smart choice for those with diabetes. Plus, it’s low in calories and may help lower blood sugar, encourage weight loss, and reduce the health risks associated with added sugar consumption.

If you’re looking for a safe added sugar alternative that actually tastes like sugar, give allulose a try.

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