The world has had a paradigm shift towards health awareness. With obesity prevailing in the younger generation, healthy alternatives to sugar and other carbohydrates are spiking in their popularity. Allulose is one such healthy alternative. It is said to have the taste and texture of regular table sugar with a reduction in calorie content.
Many early studies suggest that it may have health benefits. However, there may be health and safety concerns to look into before making allulose an integral part of your diet. To help you learn everything there is to know about allulose, we have poured our research into this article. Read on to find what allulose is, its health benefits and safety concerns, and how it compares to other sugar alternatives.
What is Allulose?
Allulose is a monosaccharide sugar which is also called D-psicose. It is known as ‘rare sugar’ because it is scarce in nature. Wheat, figs, and raisins contain it. Monosaccharide sugars, like allulose, are all simple sugars that taste sweet and are soluble in water. On the other hand, table sugar is a disaccharide, which means that two monosaccharides join chemically to form it. It is also known as d-allulose, psicose, and pseudo-fructose.
Allulose highly resembles fructose, another monosaccharide. The formula for both sugars is identical, the only difference occurring in the arrangement of atoms. It has about 70% the sweetness of regular sugar. Surprisingly, it contains about 0.4 calories per gram, opposed to 4 calories per gram of table sugar. Moreover, the body does not metabolize allulose and hence, is virtually calorie-free. 70-84% allulose does enter the bloodstream from the intestines on digestion. Moreover, nearly all of this is removed from the body through urine.
Health benefits of Allulose
What makes allulose a desirable choice is that recent studies have shown numerous health benefits associated with its use. Below we have listed some of the reasons why you should incorporate it into your diet
Helps Control Blood Sugar levels
Everyone with diabetes, listen up! Allulose may be your best friend in controlling blood sugar levels. Just because one fears rising blood sugar levels does not mean you have to give up on sweet foods completely. Recent research using animals has shown that allulose may lower blood sugar levels, heighten insulin sensitivity in the cells, and protects against type 2 diabetes. It does the last one by protecting beta cells in the pancreas, responsible for insulin production.
A study used obese rats and treated them with either allulose, water, or glucose. Surprisingly, the rats using allulose performed even better than those using plain water! They had improved blood glucose levels, beta cells working, and minimal belly fat gain. Such researches pave the way to believe that it may be beneficial for blood sugar control in humans.
A second study showed the results of allulose when incorporated in the diet with other sugars. Twenty healthy young adults were given 5-7.5 mg of allulose with 75mg of another sugar. Another group was given that sugar alone. The results were promising! The adults that took allulose had significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels. This all points towards it being very beneficial for diabetics
Another study researched the effects of allulose when taken with a meal both on healthy and prediabetic adults. Their blood sugar was checked every 30 minutes for the next 120 minutes. The people having consumed allulose had significantly lower blood sugar levels, both in prediabetic and healthy adults.
Although the data is not conclusive yet, the benefits of allulose for diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels are promising. Still, more research is needed to make big claims. Despite this, if you want to control your blood sugar levels, giving allulose a try is worth a shot! Do discuss it with your doctor beforehand, though.
Helps Weight Loss
Allulose is thought to help weight loss significantly. It does so in numerous ways. It generally has a low caloric content, due to which calorie consumption is reduced, especially from foods like desserts and beverages with high sugar content. Secondly, it is found to improve metabolism. What is far more important than its other impacts is its reduction of fat. It is known to reduce belly fat the most. This fat is associated with health problems and heart diseases.
The proof of these claims is usually through researches done with animals, primarily rats. In one study, obese rats were fed diets containing allulose, Erythritol, or sucrose. Despite both allulose and Erythritol not being metabolized and giving no caloric amount, allulose-fed rats showed far more benefits. They gained less overall fat and especially that around the bell.
Another research incorporated 5% cellulose or allulose into high sugar diets of some rats. The rats given allulose burned significantly more calories than the ones given cellulose. Moreover, they had a lower overall fat gain.
Despite these studies, we can’t entirely be sure of allulose and its effects on humans. This is because much more research on humans is required before we can say anything for certain. Despite this, the lowered blood sugar and insulin levels and fat-reductive properties make us hopeful about allulose’s positive impacts on weight loss.
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Reduces Fat Storage in the Liver
We have already discussed that allulose reduces the overall fat content in the body. How it does so isn’t entirely clear. But one thing for sure, it not only helps reduce belly fat, but it also reduces fat content in the liver and prevents fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver, also known as Hepatic steatosis, is a common condition caused by too much fat accumulating on the liver. Having some fat on your liver is normal. It is considered a disease when the fat becomes 5 to 10% of the liver’s weight. This disease may cause inflammation, damage your liver, or in severe scenarios, lead to liver failure. This disease is prevalent among people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
In one research, rats were fed either allulose, glucose, fructose, or no sugar. One would naturally expect the rats taking no sugar to be the healthiest. To our surprise, liver fat in mice given allulose decreased by 38% compared to those given no sugar. The group given allulose also experienced a significant reduction in the weight gain anticipated and had lower blood sugar levels.
This natural sweetener hence seems promising when it comes to loss of fat. However, one may wonder about its effect on the loss of muscle. The good news is that allulose not only reduces fat but prevents muscle loss. In a study that lasted 15 weeks, severely obese mice were given allulose. They not only showed reduced belly and liver fat, but their muscle mass remained intact. These results on rats provide firm hopes. However, no studies on humans have yet been carried out to prove our speculations for good.
Who should use Allulose?
Allulose appears to be highly beneficial for the human body. It provides a taste and texture like sugar without the risk of gaining weight. The FDA has approved allulose, and studies on rats and some humans suggest that it is safe when consumed in moderation.
However, no extensive human studies have been performed to eliminate all risks associated with it. Moreover, it is more expensive and scarcely available as compared to other sweeteners. Allulose can be consumed in moderation by everyone. But, its permanent use should be delayed until human studies are published that confirm its complete safety.
How to use Allulose?
Cellulose is only about 70% as sweet as sugar. It has a texture very similar to sugar and is soluble in water, too. You may need to add a much more significant amount of allulose to achieve the same level of sweetness. The FDA has approved the usage in the following:
- some confectionery products, such as rolls, cakes, and brownies
- alcohol-free drinks
- frozen dairy products (ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, etc.)
- yogurt (both regular and frozen)
- salad dressings
- jams and jellies
- medical products
Allulose for a Keto diet
Keto diets benefit greatly from allulose. It does not have a glycemic index as this substance is excreted from the body without being metabolized. This ensures that it does not elevate blood sugar levels.
As we have discussed before, allulose lowers blood sugar levels and protects against many diseases. Moreover, it provides fat-burning properties which aid the whole purpose of a diet. It is hence very beneficial on a keto diet. Some of its benefits include:
- It contains only 10% of the calories of regular sugar
- Very close to the taste of regular sugar
- Has fat reducing, blood sugar lowering, and antioxidant properties
- Relatively stable while cooking and baking
The only concern while using allulose is that some more studies are needed to prove its long-term safety when consumed in large amounts conclusively. You can safely use it in moderation. Another thing is that it is expensive when compared to other sweeteners.