Food Trends: Allulose

Olestra. Margarine. Stevia. The list of supposed miracle ingredients in American food history is extensive.

Despite the high expectations for these products’ potential to better our health, American rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have continued to increase. There has been no magic bullet.

Next in line? Allulose. Allulose is a natural form of sugar that is only found in small amounts in nature in plants like wheat and figs. What makes allulose special is that despite its sweet flavor (70 percent as sweet as “real” sugar) it has one-tenth the calories as sugar does. It looks like sugar, it tastes like sugar – but only 10% as many calories per serving. It also does not appear to cause the dental problems that sugar can.

The FDA recently finalized rules for including allulose on nutrition labels, allowing the ingredient to be excluded from the “added sugars” section altogether (this has changed since the linked allulose video above).

Food companies are undoubtedly rushing to integrate allulose in a wide variety of processed foods. Will this be a good thing for our health?

Remember, olestra was the solution to adding fat to food, without the calories. Margarine was the solution to saturated fats and heart disease. Stevia was the all-natural, low-calorie sweetener that would replace sugar, just as allulose seems primed to do. But they all had their problems, and none of them made a meaningful dent in the food environment that continues to negatively impact our health.

Rather than searching for the next miracle ingredient that will cure the problems of highly processed foods, let’s focus on nutrient-rich whole foods, regular physical activity, good sleep, and good management of our stress levels and mental health. These are the pieces of the wellness puzzle that we know make a difference.

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