The Sweet Debate: Sugar Substitutes with a Focus on Allulose…

The search for healthier alternatives to sugar has intensified, leading to the ongoing development of sugar substitutes. These alternatives cater to the growing health-conscious segment of the population and address concerns related to sugar consumption.

Among these substitutes, a new contender has emerged: Allulose.

Sugar Substitutes and Allulose

Why Use Sugar Substitutes?

The primary reason for using sugar substitutes stems from the health risks associated with excessive sugar intake. Regular sugar, particularly in its refined form, has been linked to numerous health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Substitutes offer a way to enjoy sweetness without the same caloric intake or glycemic impact.

What’s Wrong with Regular Sugar?

Regular sugar, or sucrose, is high in calories and contributes to weight gain when consumed in excess. It can also cause spikes in blood glucose levels, leading to a higher risk of diabetes. Moreover, sugar can be addictive, leading to overconsumption and associated health risks.

The New Kid on the Block: Allulose

Allulose is a rare sugar naturally found in small quantities in certain fruits like figs and raisins.

It tastes remarkably similar to sucrose but contains approximately 70% of its sweetness.

The most significant advantage of allulose is that it has almost no calories and does not raise blood sugar levels, making it an excellent option for diabetics and those watching their caloric intake.

Benefits of Allulose

  • Low Caloric Content: Allulose contributes minimal calories to the diet.
  • Low Glycemic Index: It does not cause spikes in blood glucose or insulin levels.
  • Good Taste: Allulose tastes similar to regular sugar, with a clean, sweet taste and no aftertaste.
  • Dental Health: Unlike sucrose, allulose does not contribute to tooth decay.

Allulose, compared to other sweeteners, closely mimics the taste and properties of sugar. It can caramelize and has a sugar-like texture, without leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. However, individual preferences can vary, as is common with taste perceptions.

Drawbacks of Allulose

  • Availability and Cost: It’s not as widely available as other sugar substitutes and can be more expensive.
  • Digestive Issues: In some individuals, excessive consumption may lead to digestive discomfort.
  • Limited Research: Being relatively new, there is less research on its long-term effects.

What is GLP-1?

GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1) hormones play a crucial role in regulating appetite and blood glucose levels.

Research indicates that allulose, a sugar substitute, can trigger the release of GLP-1. This release of GLP-1 by allulose has been observed to suppress appetite, reduce food intake, and enhance glucose tolerance in both healthy and obese-diabetic animal models.

The ability of allulose to stimulate GLP-1 release can be beneficial in managing metabolic disorders, particularly in treating obesity and diabetes, by restricting overeating and reducing hyperglycemia.

However, it’s important to note that these findings are primarily based on animal studies and further research may be needed to fully understand the implications for human health​. [More Info]

Other Popular Sugar Substitutes


Derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, it’s a zero-calorie sweetener with a sweetness much higher than that of sugar.


  • Zero calories and does not affect blood sugar levels.
  • May have beneficial effects on blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.


  • Bitter aftertaste in high concentrations.
  • Not suitable for all baking applications.

Note: It is true that stevia was initially banned in the United States. The ban occurred in 1991 due to concerns about its safety, particularly stemming from inadequate toxicological information and some early studies suggesting a potential link to cancer.

However, this ban was later lifted. In 2008, the FDA granted stevia GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status, Since then it has been considered safe to use in recommended doses.

The ban’s lifting came after further studies and evaluations indicated that stevia did not pose the health risks initially suspected


Commonly found in diet sodas and low-calorie foods, aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener.


  • Low in calories.
  • Much sweeter than sugar, requiring less quantity.


  • Not heat-stable, so it’s unsuitable for cooking or baking.
  • Can cause reactions in individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU).


A zero-calorie artificial sweetener, often marketed under the brand name Splenda.


  • No calories and doesn’t affect blood sugar levels.
  • Heat-stable, making it suitable for cooking and baking.


  • Some studies suggest potential negative effects on gut health.
  • Can have a slightly bitter aftertaste.


A sugar alcohol that tastes almost like sugar but contains only 6% of the calories.


  • Low calorie, low glycemic index.
  • Less likely to cause digestive issues compared to other sugar alcohols.


  • Can cause digestive upset in some individuals.
  • Has a cooling sensation in the mouth, which might be undesirable in some foods.

Isn’t the Sugar Substitute, Allulose, Banned in Canada & the European Union?

Not exactly.

Allulose has gained approval in countries like the United States, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and South Korea. However, it is yet to be approved in Canada and the European Union.

In these regions, allulose is categorized as a “novel food.” This classification indicates that it hasn’t been in use for a long enough period to allow for comprehensive testing as per their respective food safety standards.

As a result, allulose hasn’t been authorized for use in Canada or Europe because it hasn’t been available long enough to undergo sufficient testing to meet their governmental standards for food safety.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has approved allulose and considers it to be “generally recognized as safe.”

This distinction might reflect a difference in regulatory approaches between the FDA and its European and Canadian counterparts. The FDA often bases its approvals on available research and safety data. In the case of allulose, it has determined that the substance is safe for consumption.

In Europe, for a novel food like allulose to be authorized, it needs to pass the approval process of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

As of now, the EFSA is still reviewing several novel food petitions for allulose, and the review process has been stalled pending additional data. This reflects a more cautious approach towards new food ingredients in the EU compared to the FDA’s process.

It’s worth noting that the ongoing research and the different stages of regulatory approval in various countries highlight the complexity and variance in food safety and regulatory standards globally.

While allulose is considered safe and is used in several countries, others are awaiting more comprehensive data before granting approval.


The quest for the perfect sugar substitute is ongoing, with allulose emerging as a promising new option.

While each alternative has its pros and cons, the choice largely depends on individual dietary needs, health goals, and taste preferences. It’s essential to approach these substitutes with balance and moderation, just as with regular sugar.

Ultimately, the best choice is one that aligns with your health objectives and lifestyle.