You’ve heard terms like “raw” and “natural” to describe low calorie sweeteners, but what about “rare”? As the name suggests, rare sugars are found only in small quantities in nature. This explains why you may not have heard much about them, and why you haven’t seen rare sugars like allulose in the baking aisle or in colored packets on restaurant tabletops.
Though classified as a rare sugar, you may have eaten allulose for years without knowing it, as it can be found in certain fruits also available in the produce section of your grocery store. Like other rare sugars, allulose is a monosaccharide. The prefix “mono” meaning “one,” monosaccharides are the most basic type of sugar and cannot be broken down any further. Therefore, they have coined the term “simple sugar.” However, unlike most simple sugars, allulose is not recognized by the body as a carbohydrate and is not metabolized as energy. Therefore, it has a negligible amount of calories, unlike table sugar (and that also makes it a rare find). Other common monosaccharides you may have already heard of include fructose, the most common sugar in fruit, or glucose, a common sugar in foods and the form that your body uses for energy.
Allulose is one type of rare sugar that has been well-studied and regulators have also evaluated the use of allulose in consumer food products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has granted allulose “GRAS” status, meaning it is “Generally Recognized As Safe” to use as an ingredient in food under its intended conditions of use in foods and beverages. Other common “GRAS” ingredients include household items like salt and table sugar. For more about the GRAS status, visit the FDA site filings here 400 and here 498.
Though food labels are intended to inform consumers about the contents and characteristics of the product, unfamiliar items on ingredient lists can sometimes intimidate rather than educate. This may be the case with allulose. The common name “Allulose” is used interchangeably with its chemical formula as well as other scientific names Psicose, or, more specifically, D-Allulose or D-Psicose. All four names refer to the same simple sugar and you can look for all of these terms as you look for foods that contain allulose. While fruits and vegetables may not have an ingredient label, common ones that contain allulose include raisins, figs, molasses, and maple syrup.