Rating: Certain people should avoid
Low Calorie Sweetener: Bakery products, cereals, beverages, frozen desserts, yogurt, gelatins, sugar substitutes, confections, jams and jellies. Fruit juice, carbonated drinks, pickles.
Allulose is a naturally occurring sugar that has 70% of the sweetness of table sugar (sucrose), yet only 10% of the calories because it is poorly absorbed. Allulose differs from most sugars not only by providing fewer calories, but also by causing only negligible increases in blood sugar and insulin levels. Small amounts of allulose occur naturally in wheat, fruits, and other foods, but it is also synthesized and added to a growing number of foods such as ice cream, cereal, and protein bars.
Allulose may be a perfectly safe replacement for added sugars, particularly if people don’t consume too much. However, like other poorly digested carbohydrates, too much allulose can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort. Two small studies in healthy adults reported gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain after allulose consumption. Details are only available for one study, which found that about one third of the participants experienced symptoms due to the allulose, most not severe, when they consumed a dose equal to 30 grams for a 130-pound adult. (Many foods don’t disclose how much allulose they contain, but a Quest Hero bar has 11 to 13 grams of allulose, a serving of Magic Spoon cereal has 5 to 10 grams, and a 5.3 oz. serving of Chobani Zero Sugar contains 4 grams.) The effects of allulose consumption have not been well-studied, and not studied at all in children, who are estimated to consume the highest amounts of allulose per pound of body weight, nor in those with digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The FDA has not objected to industry determinations that allulose is generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Because allulose is different from most sugars in terms of calories and effects on blood glucose and insulin, the FDA decided to exclude allulose from the lines for “Total Sugars” and “Added Sugars” on Nutrition Facts labels, although it still must be included in “Total Carbohydrates”. While CSPI agrees with these decisions, we have urged the FDA to require additional studies to better determine which levels of allulose trigger adverse effects, and to require labels to warn consumers that “excess consumption of allulose may cause diarrhea or other adverse gastrointestinal effects.”