The Sweetener Allulose: Potential Benefits and Risks
We all know by now that sugar is not healthy, but many of us struggle to reduce or eliminate it from our diets because almost all of us like how it tastes. And, while I love the concept of moderation, most of us really struggle to eat it in small quantities or infrequently: the average American consumes around 17 teaspoons of sugar per day (57 pounds of sugar per year!). So it’s not surprising that many of us are on the lookout for safer and healthier alternatives to sugar that taste good.
I’ve been hearing (good things) about allulose for awhile now, although it is a relatively new sugar substitute on the market.
Allulose, otherwise known as D-psicose, is a naturally occurring sugar found in certain plant foods such as figs, raisins, molasses, maple syrup, and wheat. It can also be produced artificially from corn or fructose.
Allulose is about 70% as sweet as sugar, very similar in taste, chemically similar to fructose (naturally occurring sugar found in fruits) and it is not absorbed by the body so it does not have a significant caloric impact.
Allulose sweetened products have become popular with people who are looking to decrease their added sugar or carb intake, balance blood sugar and reduce diabetes risk, and reduce calorie consumption. Allulose is commonly found in low or lower carb/sugar-free or lower in sugar/or keto products such as yogurt, granola, cereal, ice cream, cookies, jams, etc.
What Are Its Potential Health Benefits?
- Help in Weight Loss – Each gram of allulose only contains 0.4 calories. It’s about 90% less than the calories of sugar. A healthy diet paired with exercise will help you achieve healthy body composition.
- Increases Fat Loss – In 2013, a Japanese study in rats showed that administering allulose on a high-sugar diet not only stopped weight gain but also prevented fat accumulation. In another study, feeding allulose to mice increased their energy expenditure and decreased body fat. In addition, allulose was able to alter some enzymes that are involved in the digestion of carbohydrates and fats which may have a positive impact on fat loss.
- Stabilizes Blood Sugar Levels – Aside from its low glycemic index, allulose has been known to protect the beta cells of the pancreas, which are the cells that synthesize, store, and release insulin–the hormone that regulates the sugar (glucose) levels in the blood.
- May Support Liver Health – In animal studies, allulose reduced fat deposits in the liver. More data is needed (and on humans), but there are promising studies showing that allulose may help protect against developing fatty liver disease. Aside from that, a study conducted in Seoul using animals as subjects showed that allulose can reduce the concentration of cholesterol and triglycerides in the liver.
- Reduction in Inflammation – Inflammation is a good body mechanism designed to protect us. It is the manifestation of our immune system doing its job to defend us from infection. However, with chronic inflammation, autoimmune disorder can develop. In a 2020 study, researchers found out that allulose may interact with the good bacteria in the gut to help reduce inflammation (and improve weight loss).
How to Use Allulose
Allulose has become an easy substitute for regular sugar because they are similar in taste and texture but with much lesser calories and carbs.
You can use it to swap out sugar in your favorite recipes and baked goods.
Many foods that you can find in the grocery today contains allulose. Cereals, candies, sauces, syrups–you name it. Some processed foods also contain cellulose.
The primary setback with allulose is that it is more expensive than many other sweeteners.
What Are Its Risks?
In the US, the FDA recognizes allulose as safe, so it can be used as a sweetener and food additive. In Europe, though, many areas don’t still permit its use.
Studies done in both humans and animals show that allulose can be safely consumed moderately with little to no side effects. As with any food or ingredient, it’s not going to work for everyone. The reported side effects for some people who eat allulose include bloating, diarrhea, and gas.
If you already don’t use sweeteners, you don’t need to add allulose to your diet. If you are looking for how to reduce your sugar consumption, allulose checks off a lot of boxes and is worth a try. Look at the ingredients (sometimes it is combined with other sweeteners) and opt for non-GMO brands. Personally, I have used it in several recipes over the last year or so and really liked it.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
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Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
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