Trying to stay low-carb and restrict sugars? Meet the latest all-natural low-glycemic sweetener: allulose. Before you throw out your bag of stevia, though, is there a dark side to this new sweetener? Is it totally safe to consume? Let’s find out….
There’s a new all-natural, low-calorie sweetener on the market. It’s not nearly as popular as stevia. At least not yet. But this new sugar replacer seems poised for huge market growth.
In fact, it may one day become more popular than brands containing stevia (Truvia, for example). That’s because despite the ubiquity of stevia in supermarkets and coffee shops, many consumers don’t like its hyper-sweet metallic aftertaste.
This new sweetener, allulose sugar, measures zero on the glycemic index. And, it’s actually less sweet than regular sugar. However, not by much.
Never heard of this all-natural sugar substitute? You’re not alone. Relatively few people are familiar with it. It’s only been on the market for a couple years.
Allulose is only in a handful of products in the U.S. In the European Union, it has yet to be approved for commercial use. This despite the fact that it’s all-natural and was first identified in wheat more than 70 years ago.
In comparison to stevia, this new sweetner is far more expensive. However, other all-natural sweeteners that have zero effect on blood sugar are expensive as well. Monk fruit extract comes to mind.
You’re probably not going to be using it for your low-carb desserts exclusively. But isn’t it nice to be ahead of the learning curve? And isn’t it fun to experiment with alternative sweeteners?
Well, as long as they’re all-natural and don’t have side effects. Speaking of which, does this zero-glycemic index sugar have side effects? And if it’s safe, where to buy allulose considering it’s hard to find? (You’re still not likely to find this alternative natural sweetener in your local supermarket.)
These questions will be answered. But first, let’s review some more basic facts about this intriguing sugar alternative….
Allulose nutrition facts
Allulose is also called a rare sugar. Rare sugars are all-natural but found in relatively few foods. There’s a tiny bit of it in figs, raisins, dragon fruit and maple syrup.
A gram of this very low-cal sugar contains about one-third of a calorie. In comparison, table sugar contains 4 calories per gram (which is true of all carbohydrate),
Although it’s lower in calories and does not raise blood sugar, it actually behaves quite like regular white table sugar. In light of this, rare sugar might become the sweetener of choice for soft drinks and baked goods.
The British nutritional ingredient company Lyle & Tate, which makes Splenda products, in 2015, released its branded allulose, “DOLCIA PRIMA®.” Dolcia Prima means “sweet first.”
Lyle & Tate’s website claims that this rare sugar has the same mouthfeel and full taste as standard table sugar. And because rare sugar “behaves like sugar,” this makes it easy for food manufacturers to incorporate this lower-calorie sweetener in foods and drinks. Furthermore, Lyle & Tate says that despite it being only 70% as sweet as sugar, rare sugar has “the same onset, peak and dissipation of sweetness” as regular sugar.
Whether food and beverage giants such as the Coca Cola Corporation start using rare sugar to curb obesity and diabetes remains to be seen….
Allulose sugar: is it good for you?
There’s not a lot of research on rare sugar. After all, it’s only been used as a sweetener alternative for a very short while. Thus, there’s no long term clinical conclusions. However, there are preliminary studies suggesting it may offer some health benefits.
Got a diabetic dog? (Yes, dogs can have diabetes.) If so, feed Fido some rare sugar. The results of this study suggest that rare sugar may be beneficial in dogs with impaired glucose tolerance. However, this begs (no pun intended) the question of where to buy allulose for dogs. Chances are high your local Petco won’t have it.
As for bipeds, studies like this one also show rare sugar can improve insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels. In addition, rare sugar demonstrates the ability to make antioxidants work more effectively in the body.
Another study compares rare sugar to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Even though the aforementioned Dolcia Prima is made from corn, rare sugar differs greatly from HFCS. HFCS can shut off the hunger hormone that tells your brain that you’re full. Therefore, you tend to eat more if you consume products with HFCS. This makes HFCS associated with the risk of both diabetes and obesity.
By comparison, rare sugars inhibit obesity and diabetes. Rats in the study were given a rare sugar or HFCS in drinking water for 10 weeks. Rats fed the rare sugar show no weight gain. And the abdominal fat mass did not increase. Furthermore, the rats fed rare sugar show far lower blood glucose levels. The test also reveals that at 30, 60, and 90 minutes, the levels of insulin in the rare sugar group were significantly lower. In conclusion, rare sugar maintains glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
Allulose side effects
Rare sugar is a dietary paradox. On one hand, it acts like a simple sugar. Usually, simple sugars digest very quickly. If you’re trying to keep blood sugar levels steady, this is a bad nutritional characteristic. That’s why higher fat/lower carb diets are better for weight loss and blood sugar management.
However, allulose isn’t your typical simple sugar. It’s absorbed by the body. But it’s not metabolized. That’s why it’s considered a calorie-free food.
Your intestines absorb approximately 70-80 percent of this rare sugar. You eliminate the rest. But your body uses none of it as fuel. This makes rare sugars like Dulcia Prima quite a unique sweetener.
It’s possible that some nutritionists would lump rare sugars with sugar alcohols or IMO syrup. The carbs in sugar alcohols lower the net carb count. However, your body does not digest sugar alcohols. Furthermore, both sugar alcohols and this rare sugar have such a short history of use that it’s impossible to say how they affect human health in the long run.
Nonetheless, allulose is all-natural. It does not contain any synthetic ingredients. And it’s likely very safe in moderation. (Despite this fact, it still remains unapproved for use in Europe.)
And here’s another reason rare sugar is a nutritional paradox. Although it might actually help battle diabetes and obesity, perhaps it might encourage it. That’s because it’s scientific fact that zero-calorie foods and drinks that taste sweet can trigger cravings for more sweets or more food in general.
If you want to know where to buy allulose in the U.S., it’s not quite like finding a needle in a haystack. But it’s certainly not as easy as finding it in Japan.
In Japan, rare sugar is in at least 2,000 products. In the United States, however, it’s currently in less than a handful of commercial products. (Perhaps the reason rare sugar is popular in Japan: it’s where the technique of converting a fruit sugar enzyme into allulose comes from. This technique differs from the Dulcia Prima product.)
Quest, a brand of meal replacement and high protein bars, has been using this new sweetener. The rare sugar is an ingredient in Quest’s “Hero Protein Bar.” You can buy bottles of the brand this Natural Rare Sugar Sweetener. There’s also Keystone Pantry’s Natural Rare Sugar Sweetener. And, you’ll find it in the Know Better cookies.
Other than that, the options of where to buy this rare sugar is minimal.
How is allulose made
The Dolcia Prima product is a derivative of corn. The carbs from the corn go through a special enzyme conversion process. This produces allulose sugar. Essentially, the result is a dietary fiber (remember, your body does not burn this for fuel) from corn sugar.
In Japan, the method involves a microorganism that produces enzymes that turn fructose into D-psicose. D-psicose is another term for this rare sugar.
Regardless of whether it’s made from corn or fruit sugar, will allulose surpass stevia as the low-cal, zero-glycemic sweetener of choice for the masses? If so, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
Food and beverage manufacturers are likely waiting for the cost of this new sweetener to drop significantly before even thinking about making it the ingredient of choice in snacks that Americans love but contribute greatly to the obesity and diabetes epidemic.