Allulose is a new natural sweetener, gaining interest. We have been evaluating it ourselves, in a number of formulas and products. This article takes a detailed look at whether including it in your diet is a good idea.
What Is Allulose?
Also known as D-psicose, it is classified as a "rare sugar" because it is naturally present in only a few foods. Wheat, figs and raisins all contain it.
Like glucose and fructose, allulose is a monosaccharide, or single sugar. In contrast, table sugar, also known as sucrose, is a disaccharide made of glucose and fructose joined together.
In fact, allulose has the same chemical formula as fructose, but it id structurally different. This difference prevents the body from processing allulose the way it processes fructose.
Although 70–84% of the allulose consumed is absorbed into the blood from your digestive tract, it is eliminated without being used as fuel.
It's been shown to resist fermentation by your gut bacteria, minimizing the likelihood of bloating, gas or other digestive problems
And here’s some good news for people who have diabetes or are watching their blood sugar — it does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels.
Allulose also provides only 0.3 calories per gram, or about 1/10 the calories of table sugar.
In addition, early research suggests that allulose has anti-inflammatory properties, and may help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Although small amounts of this rare sugar are found in some foods, in recent years, manufacturers generally use enzymes to convert fructose from corn and other plants into allulose.
May control blood sugar and diabetes
Allulose may turn out to be new way to fight diabetes. A number of animal studies have found that it lowers blood sugar, increases insulin sensitivity and decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes by protecting the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas.
In a study comparing obese rats treated with allulose to rats given water or glucose, the allulose group had improved beta cell function, better blood sugar response and less belly fat gain than the other groups.
Early research also suggests that allulose may have beneficial effects on blood sugar regulation in humans.
A controlled study gave 20 healthy, young adults either 5–7.5 grams of allulose with 75 grams of the sugar maltodextrin, or just maltodextrin on its own.
The group that took allulose experienced significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels compared to the group that took maltodextrin alone.
In another study, 26 adults consumed a meal alone or with 5 grams of allulose. Some people were healthy while others had prediabetes.
After the meal, their blood sugar was measured every 30 minutes for two hours. The researchers found that participants who took allulose had significantly lower blood sugar levels at 30 and 60 minutes.
Although these studies are small and more research in people with diabetes and prediabetes is needed, the evidence to date is encouraging.
It may enhance fat loss
Research in obese rats suggests that allulose may also help boost fat loss. This includes unhealthy belly fat, also known as visceral fat, which is strongly linked to heart disease and other health problems.
In one study, obese rats were fed a normal or high-fat diet that contained supplements of either allulose, sucrose or erythritol for eight weeks.
In another study, rats were fed a high-sugar diet with either 5% cellulose fiber or 5% allulose. The allulose group burned significantly more calories and fat overnight, and gained far less fat than the cellulose-fed rats.
Because allulose is such a new sweetener, its effects on weight and fat loss in humans aren’t known because they haven't been studied yet.
Based on studies to date, showing lower blood sugar and insulin levels in people who took allulose, it looks like it could help with weight loss as well.
It may even protect against fatty liver
The same studies also found that, in addition to preventing weight gain, allulose seems to reduce fat storage in the liver.
Hepatic steatosis, more commonly known as fatty liver, is strongly linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
In one study, diabetic mice were given either allulose, glucose, fructose or no sugar.
The liver fat in the allulose mice decreased by 38% compared to mice given no sugar. The allulose mice also experienced less weight gain and lower blood sugar levels than the other groups.
At the same time as allulose may promote fat loss in the liver and body, it may also protect against muscle loss.
In a 15-week study of severely obese mice, allulose significantly decreased liver and belly fat, yet prevented the loss of lean mass.
The most important question: Is it safe?
It is a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) natural sweetener by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, it is not yet allowed to be sold in Europe.
Studies lasting three and 18 months have shown no toxicity or other health-related problems related to the sweetener.
In one study, rats were fed about 1/2 gram of allulose per pound (0.45 kg) of body weight for 18 months. By the end of the study, adverse effects were minimal and similar in both the allulose and control groups.
It's worth mentioning that this was an extremely large dose. For reference, the equivalent amount for an adult weighing 150 pounds (68 kg) would be about 83 grams per day — more than 1/3 cup.
In human studies, more realistic doses of 5–15 grams (1–3 teaspoons) per day for up to 12 weeks weren't associated with any negative side effects.
Accordingly, allulose is unlikely to cause health problems when consumed in moderation. However, as with any food, individual sensitivities are always a possibility.