This year about one in four Americans has enlisted a new year resolution to ferry them into 2021. Among these resolution-makers, 45 percent are aiming to make healthier diet choices. It’s reasonable to say that most of us have health on our minds!
When it comes to making healthier food choices, there’s really no better place to start than reducing added sugar consumption.
Overconsumption of sugar — mostly those processed sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, and even “supposed healthy” alternatives like agave — has been shown to lead to unwanted weight gain, acne, depression, and can even an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
Alright, but what’s the point of living without enjoying the sweet things in life? While cutting processed sugar from your diet is an important action item and generally means avoiding packaged or store-bought items, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a healthy substitute for those homemade sweet treats. This is where plant-based sweeteners really shine!
Some of the more popular healthy swaps include maple syrup and coconut sugar — both of which are wrapped in higher levels of nutrients — yet, while these are better options they still impact your blood sugar. Next up are stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol, all of which have been shown to provide that sweetness without drastically affecting your blood sugar.
Let’s take a deeper dive into this champion sweetener!
What is Allulose?
Allulose is a bit unheard of in the Western world, most likely due to the fact that it’s “naturally present in only a few foods,” including wheat, figs, and raisins.
Technically, allulose is a monosaccharide, also referred to as a single sugar and it also falls under the pseudonym psicose, meaning a rare sugar. There are a few types of simple sugars including sucrose, glucose, and fructose, which you may be familiar with.
While the most popular form of sugar — table sugar — is a disaccharide “made of glucose and fructose joined together,” allulose is a stand-alone that is fairly similar to fructose. In fact, allulose “has the same chemical formula as fructose, but is arranged differently.” It’s this simple chemical structure that signals your body to process allulose in a different way than glucose and fructose and makes it a much healthier option of sweetener!
Allulose versus Other Plant-Based Sweeteners
Allulose isn’t a new sweetener in regards to its history, yet it’s still relatively new to the Western world. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just recently “approved allulose as GRAS (generally recognized as safe)” and it doesn’t necessarily show up in the added sugar section of nutrition labels.
While there’s always a chance that new information could come to light, the current in-depth research around allulose and its comparison to other plant-based sweeteners is pretty positive.
First off, as I mentioned, allulose is processed differently by the body. When you consume allulose, at least 70 to 84 percent is “absorbed into your blood from your digestive tract [and] it is eliminated in the urine without being used as fuel.” This means it doesn’t impact your blood sugar levels like other sugars and sweeteners reducing the risks that come with recurring blood sugar spikes — think an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. In fact, studies have found that allulose “does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels,” period.
Secondly, studies have shown that allulose resists “fermentation by your gut bacteria, minimizing the likelihood of bloating, gas, or other digestive issues.” Those with sensitive digestive tracts seem to do a bit better with this type of sweetener.
One of the drawbacks is that you may need to use more allulose than other sweeteners in order to obtain the same sweetness we’re typically used to in recipes. When it comes to good old fashioned table sugar, allulose has “around 70 [percent] of the sweetness.” Stevia is “around 200 times sweeter than table sugar, and sucralose [is] around 600 times sweeter.” For example, “in a recipe, 1 1/3 cup of allulose sweetens like 1 cup of cane sugar.”
Health Benefits of Allulose
While science speaks to the healthy design of allulose, what about any extra benefits? Turns out that allulose has a few potential healthy side effects in its back pocket!
To begin, allulose has been found to help burn fat. Yep, a sweetener that burns fat! Research has also found that allulose may help protect against fatty liver disease — a condition linked to “insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.” Yet, there’s even more good news when it comes to the health benefits of this sweetener! Allulose has around one-tenth the calories of table sugar, plus “early research suggests that allulose has anti-inflammatory properties, and may help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of chronic disease.”
Need more convincing?
Peter Attia MD — an accomplished physician who focuses on longevity via nutritional intervention, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, emotional and mental health, and pharmacology and hosts the podcast The Drive — is all about allulose.
In a deep dive article fittingly entitled Replacing sugar with Allulose, Attia lays out the case for this sweetener as the healthiest option on the market. Attia explains that even though allulose is “classed as a carbohydrate, [it’s] mostly absorbed in the small intestine without being converted into energy” and “at least 90% is excreted by the kidneys without being metabolized.” This basically means that allulose doesn’t “elicit a physiologic response in the way that other carbohydrates do,” — think “increase blood sugar, insulin response, etc.” Even more, Attia highlights studies that have found that allulose “may lower blood glucose, reduce abdominal fat, decrease insulin resistance and fat accumulation in the liver, and prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.”
Give These High-Sugar Staples an Allulose Spin
There are a couple of tricky things about sugar. First, it goes by LOTS of names — we’re talking upwards of 50 different names all to identify different types of sugar. Some of these are familiar — such as brown sugar, cane sugar, and coconut sugar — while others are unfamiliar — such as dextrose, galactose, and maltodextrin. Secondly, natural sugar and added sugars are hidden in many health foods that we believe are through and through low in sugar.
If you need more convincing besides its health benefits, then consider how close it resembles table sugar. Allulose has been “described as identical to table sugar … about 70 [percent] as sweet as sugar.” This means you can use allulose as a swap for good old fashioned table sugar in almost any recipe and get the same results without the negative health effects!
Try your hand at swapping out store-bought versions of these high sugar foods for at-home recipes and substitute allulose to give it that sweetness without sacrificing your health!
No pantry is complete without a great granola option! Granola is perfect for topping a vegan yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, or smoothie bowl. Plus, granola is a wonderful snack on its own that can be curated to your specific needs — think of any type of seed or nut, maybe some coconut flakes, dried fruit, or even dark chocolate and more!
With that said, store-bought — and many at-home recipes — are loaded with sugar!
Therefore, granola is the perfect place to start with your new year, no sugar resolutions. Simply swap out the sugar-rich option that you buy at the store with an at-home recipe in which you substitute allulose instead. You’ll still get a sweet, granola crunch treat, yet without the unwanted sugar!
For example, take these maple syrup-heavy recipes to a healthier level with an allulose swap: Cinnamon Crunch Granola, Pumpkin Spice Granola, Easy Tahini Granola, Hot Chocolate Granola, Vegan Lemon Blueberry Superfood Granola, or this Apple Pie Granola with Toasted Pecans and Quinoa.
2. Bars and Bites
Power bars, energy bars, or snack bites are all high on the list for go-to healthy foods. Yet, when it comes down to the actual nutrition of these food items, you’ll generally find a whole bunch of stuff that you don’t actually want. Most importantly, bars and bites are oftentimes chock-full of added sugar, which is hidden within the layers of “healthy” ingredients including fiber, protein, and vitamins. If you know your way around a nutrition label, then you’ll notice that sugar is oftentimes one of the top five ingredients on the list, which means it’s one of the most plentiful ingredients in the food item.
Choose to swap out store-bought brands with at-home recipes and swap out that maple syrup, coconut sugar, or agave with allulose!
Replace the sweetener option in these recipes with allulose and see what you think! Super Power Bars, No Bake Cookie Energy Balls, Cashew and Lemon Balls, Banana Nut Protein Bars, or these Glow Buns Energy Balls.
If you’re like me — and most humans I’d have to bet — then you probably grew up with at least a few boxes of cereal in the pantry. I absolutely adore cereal, yet as an adult consumed by a desire for healthy eating, I’ve learned that most cereals are simply big boxes of added sugar.
And, to be honest, not too much has changed.
Even so-called healthy brands follow the same guidelines as those protein bars — they’ve got a laundry list of healthy ingredients, yet some sort of sugar (whether processed or not) seems to top that list. Yet, I was personally determined to still enjoy a bowl of sweet-flavored cereal at least a few times a week, therefore I turned to cooking up my own! Now that I’ve discovered allulose sweetener, my at-home cereal recipes will be even healthier!
Here are a few of my personal favorite cereal and morning bowl recipes to give a try with allulose: Cinnamon Quinoa Protein Cereal Bowl, Chocolate Protein Cereal, Orange Ginger and Fig Granola, or this Gingerbread Hazelnut Granola.
When it comes to smoothies, sugar generally comes in the form of fruit and the liquid you use, whether that’s a vegan substitute or actual dairy. This is what makes smoothies so great! The sugar you find in them is generally naturally derived from actual fruits and veggies, which means it’s encased in those nutrients that help to slow its digestion and therefore doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar.
With that said, too much of anything can be detrimental.
Therefore, it’s a great idea to swap out a few of your fruit-dense smoothies with veggie-dense smoothies to balance it out. Of course, these veggie-dense smoothies tend to be more on the bitter side, which makes allulose a great addition to make them palatable.
Try adding a little bit of allulose to these veggie-dense smoothies: Beginner Green Smoothie, Green Superfood Detox Smoothie, Moringa Green Smoothie, Glowing Green Juice, or this Alkaline Green Juice.
5. Baked Goods
Of course, aside from soda, baked goods are one category of food that is rife with added sugar. Baked goods generally call for cane sugar or brown sugar which are two of the worst culprits!
While it may take a little adjusting when it comes to figuring out allulose measurements to cane sugar measurements, turns out that allulose is an excellent substitute for your favorite baked goods. From cookies to cakes to pies to any other type of delightful treat, give allulose a try.
Interested in learning a bit (or a lot!) more about your vegan sweetener options? Here are a few helpful links to help you find the perfect sweetener match for your lifestyle!
- Guide to Natural Vegan Sweeteners
- Which Natural Sweetener is Healthiest?
- 7 Sweeteners That are Perfect Replacements for Honey
- Health Benefits of Monk Fruit, an All Natural, Nutrient-Rich Sweetener
- How to Sweeten Your Recipes the Natural Way
- The Best Natural Sugar Alternatives
- 5 Lesser-Known Natural Sweeteners You Should Try in Baked Goods
Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home!
Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects.
For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Here are some great resources to get you started:
- Weekly Vegan Meal Plans
- Plant-Based Health Resources
- Plant-Based Food & Recipes
- Plant-Based Nutrition Resources
- The Ultimate Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition
- Budget-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes
- High Protein Plant-Based Recipes
- Plant-Based Meal Prep
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