Allulose is an interesting sweetener, one of the handful of non- or minimally-caloric sweeteners on our list of preferred sweetening agents in the Wheat Belly lifestyle.
Allulose is a naturally occurring sugar found in small quantities in some fruit such as figs and raisins. While some sweeteners such as stevia can introduce some “off” flavors (some people perceive a metallic aftertaste) or the cooling effect of erythritol, allulose is like monk fruit in that it yields sweetness with no odd tastes or sensations. While allulose is a (monosaccharide) sugar, it is minimally metabolized and is excreted unchanged. Despite this, by FDA regulations, any food that contains allulose will list it on the nutrition panel as a carbohydrate, but not as a sugar—confusing, yes.
But what makes allulose a bit more interesting are some other characteristics that are being uncovered in preliminary, as well as human, research. Findings include:
- Allulose has prebiotic fiber properties—i.e., it can be metabolized by gut microbes.
- Allulose may reduce the quantity of visceral fat—recall that visceral fat is fat that encircles abdominal organs and is inflammatory.
- Allulose reduces several important markers of inflammation—such as IL-6 and TNF-alpha.
- About one teaspoon of allulose blunts the rise in blood sugar when carbohydrates are consumed. In one small human study of people with pre-diabetes, for instance, peak blood glucose was about 10 mg/dl lower (after consuming 85 grams carbohydrates) after allulose was consumed. Interestingly, there was also a slight improvement in a measure of fatty liver with allulose. Another study demonstrated a reduction of up to 30 mg/dl after a carbohydrate load with allulose. Ingested by itself, allulose does not raise blood sugar nor insulin at all.
- Preliminary evidence suggests that allulose exerts modest positive effects on intestinal microbiome composition with increased species diversity and increased Lactobacillus populations (in contrast to the negative effects introduced by consumption of synthetic sweeteners aspartame, saccharine, and sucralose).
If you plan to do some wheat/grain-free baking with allulose, you will find that it behaves much like sucrose (sugar). Because it is about 70% as sweet as sucrose, it requires 1 1/3 cups allulose to match the sweetness of 1 cup of sucrose.
We therefore put allulose at the top of the list of healthy sweeteners along with inulin, also both a prebiotic fiber as well as non-caloric sweetener. Also consider combinations of allulose, inulin, monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia, since combinations of these sweeteners allow you to use less of each to achieve the same amount of sweetness.