By: Jen Haugen, RDN, LD
For the first time since the 1990’s, major changes are coming to the Nutrition Facts Panel, and one of the major changes is the new notation of added sugars. Americans continue to struggle with overweight and obesity, and added sugars have become a target since they tend to provide excess calories which can contribute to excess weight. This is where low calorie sweeteners can make a difference; however, while making food still taste good without the extra added sugar calories. And there’s a new low calorie sweetener on the market, allulose.
Allulose has recently achieved GRAS status, “Generally Recognized as Safe,” by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What this means is that based on FDA guidance, people of all ages can enjoy allulose in moderate amounts. However, while it’s not available as a stand-alone sweetener quite yet, you can find it as an ingredient in some foods on supermarket shelves.
Allulose has some great features which is why food manufacturers are interested in using it in their products. It has a similar texture and similar taste of sugar, but without all the calories of sugar, 90% less calories to be exact. Allulose provides 0.2 to 0.4 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram with table sugar. It also has been found to have no effect on blood sugar. This is because allulose is not recognized by the body as a carbohydrate and it is not metabolized as energy.
Allulose can be used to reduce or replace sugar in foods ranging from beverages, yogurt, and ice cream to baked desserts, candy, salad dressing, and even cereals. Because allulose has 70% of the sweetening power of table sugar, it lends itself well to the browning that happens during baking and it works well in beverages.
A commercial manufacturer of allulose notes that the way allulose is manufactured is proprietary, though they do explain the process is part of corn processing. The carbohydrate in corn goes through an enzymatic process to produce allulose. You can find allulose naturally in jackfruit, figs, raisins, and wheat. It’s also naturally present in foods like caramel sauce, maple syrup, and brown sugar.
At the moment, the FDA requires allulose, known as a low calorie sugar, to be labeled as part of the sugars on the Nutrition Facts Panel despite the fact that the calories are significantly less than regular sugar. The low calorie nature of the sugar is linked to how 70 to 80% of the allulose is absorbed in the intestine, and is eventually excreted in the urine. The other 20 to 30% passes into the large intestine, where it is then excreted.
Products available now that contain allulose:
- Cereal Protein Bars, manufactured by QuestNutrition.
- Bread Products, manufactured by Know Better Bread.
Look for future products that contain allulose in the following categories:
- Candies (both hard and soft)
- Chewing Gum
- Confections and Frostings
- Dressings for Salads
- Frozen Dairy Desserts (ice cream, soft serve, sorbet)
- Gelatins, Puddings, and Fillings
- Jams and Jellies
- Sugar Substitutes
- Sweet Sauces and Syrups
- Yogurt and Frozen Yogurt
If you are interested in further information about allulose, refer to the website, www.allulose.org.
An award-winning dietitian, Jen Haugen, RDN, LD, is a paid contributor on Allulose.org and the author of the new book, “The Mom’s Guide to a Nourishing Garden.” Jen specializes in inspiring moms to create the recipe to a nourishing life through gardening, good food, family, and faith. Her TEDx Talk, “How Moms Can Change the World”, features two simple ideas that can transform a family. Connect with her at www.jenhaugen.com or on Twitter @jenhaugen.