Allulose Explained: Understanding Its Nature, Nutrition, and Benefits

Allulose is a natural, rare, simple sugar that’s isolated from beet sugar or maize. It’s sometimes used to replace white table sugar and is about 70% as sweet as regular sugar. Consumers are interested in allulose because it’s marketed as a zero-calorie sweetening agent, which might appeal to anyone trying to decrease their sugar or energy intake. Keep reading to learn about allulose, its sugar content, nutritional benefits, and whether you should try it.

What is allulose?

Allulose is a low-calorie sweetener that has a minimal impact on your blood glucose. When it comes to physical appearance and taste, allulose has a fine crystal texture comparable to sugar granules. Its flavor is sometimes described as light caramel or less sweet table sugar. People can use allulose to substitute sugar in baking, mixing drinks, or other homemade recipes.

The chemical structure of allulose is very similar to fructose, which allows it to be partially absorbed through similar pathways in the small intestine. However, it’s not metabolized in the human body, which means it won’t impact blood sugar levels like other sugars.

Allulose nutrition

Allulose is not metabolized and, therefore, doesn’t provide energy (calories) after eating. Therefore, the energy is listed on food labels as zero calories (although literature suggests its more accurate value is 0.4 kcal/gram). For comparison, white table sugar has approximately 4 kcal/gram.

Allulose doesn’t contain any notable vitamins or other micronutrients, nor does it have any proteins or fats. Because of its low carbohydrate content, it could be considered a keto-friendly option (unlike regular table sugar).

Where does allulose come from?

Allulose is a 'rare sugar' because it’s not commonly found in natural foods. Very small amounts are in figs, kiwi, and raisins, but now, with the help of advanced food technology, allulose is extracted from beetroot and maize. It’s processed and sold in conveniently packaged pouches at many grocery stores.

What is allulose made from?

Most commercially sold allulose is produced from corn or fructose molecules. It’s too rare to be harvested from fruits (and only available in micro amounts), but researchers have developed technology to synthesize allulose from fructose (another naturally occurring sugar found in most fruits).

How is allulose made?

Allulose is extracted from corn through a series of enzymatic reactions that are done at commercial food labs. There are four steps to extract allulose from corn.

  1. Isolate starch from corn.
  2. Starch is split into single glucose molecules through hydrolysis.
  3. Enzymes convert glucose into fructose molecules.
  4. Enzymes convert fructose into allulose.

Benefits of allulose

People are drawn to allulose because it tastes sweet but doesn’t impact blood glucose or insulin levels. For that reason, anyone with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes may be particularly interested in trying this product.

Additionally, allulose is a low-calorie option that may appeal to anyone trying to manage their energy intake, as it doesn’t add extra calories to meals or beverages. A small research study demonstrated that adults using allulose experienced a decrease in body mass index (BMI) and less abdominal and subcutaneous fat. Still, more validated research is needed to understand how allulose impacts weight changes.

Potential risks of allulose

Moderate consumption of allulose should be safe for most people. However, some individuals may experience gastrointestinal side effects if they’re sensitive to sugar substitutes. Specifically, eating large amounts (0.4 g or more per kilogram of body weight/0.2 g or more per pound of body weight) can cause diarrhea, abdominal distention, and abdominal pain.

For context, someone who weighs 143 lbs might have an upset stomach after eating 26 g of allulose (approximately six teaspoons). If you stay under 0.4 g per kilogram of body weight, you shouldn’t experience side effects. Still, every digestive system is unique, so be sure to monitor for any symptoms after eating allulose.

Is allulose a safe sugar substitute?

Allulose is recognized as a generally safe sugar alternative by the FDA that won’t affect your blood sugar levels and could complement your weight loss efforts. It’s available in many grocery stores but can be pricier than other sweetener products. If you're on a tight budget, you may want to wait for it to go on sale.

Any sugar substitute should be used moderately to avoid negative effects on your gastrointestinal tract. Start with a few teaspoons daily and see how your digestive system responds to this new food product.

Reducing your sugar intake is one way to modify your energy intake. US health authorities recommend being physically active and eating a balanced diet to further optimize your health. If you want help improving your blood sugar control or managing weight, consider reaching out to a registered dietitian.

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