First off, apologies to the subset of Exceptionally Virtuous Cranky Fitness Readers out there who don't give a crap about whatever new low-calorie sweeteners are on the horizon.
"Sure," you might say, "I have an occasional treat that has sugar in it, but I'd rather have a real brownie on a special occasion and really enjoy it! Doesn't that make more sense than settling for counterfeit replacements like you do, Crabby?"
To which I reply: Harumph.
(Well, maybe not literally. Harumph is not a word real people say. I would say something harumph-like and chances are it would be cruder.)
Anyway, I think "occasional" is a word best reserved for solar eclipses and colonoscopies. Not tasty sweet desserts and beverages. And yes--I am a child. I want to eat sweets at every conceivable opportunity if I can get away with it.
Nor am I all: "Who needs sugar? I just put molasses in my organic green tea or my homemade tempeh/flax cookies. I really don't need any other sweeteners at all, they all taste too sweet!"
I'm sorry, but molasses is no more a sweetener than candy corn is a vegetable.
When it comes to sweets, I want it all: frequency, quantity, and quality. On the other hand, I'd rather not eat too many things that are likely to kill me over time. And thus the dilemma.
My current non-sugar sweetener rotation includes a little bit of splenda, quite a lot of stevia, some coconut sugar, erythritol, and monk fruit. But they all come with tradeoffs in terms of health effects, taste, digestive issues, cost, and cooking-friendliness.
But there's a new kid in town, coming soon: Allulose, also known as Psicose or D-Psicose. It's not available directly to consumers yet, but the wheels are in motion. The FDA has declared it "Generally Recognized as Safe," and it is already being marketed to food manufacturers for use in their products. It has 90% or so fewer calories than sugar.
So what's the deal? Could Allulose be the holy grail for 'cheaters' like Crabby McSlacker who want to have their cake and eat it too and then eat it again in a couple hours and keep eating it all day long?
Sweet! Allulose Benefits That Sound Happy and Hopeful:
Gratuitous Sugar-Themed Hunkery from P-town Carnival
Do I Live in An Awesome Town or What?
Do I Live in An Awesome Town or What?
Allulose is Kinda Natural, plus it has a Feel-Good Backstory:
D-Psicose, the more sciencey name for allulose, is a form of sugar that actually occurs in nature. We already consume some in foods we eat like raisins, and some is present when we eat cooked sugar.
According to a Newsweek write-up on the promising future of allulose it was discovered by Ken Izumori, a Japanese scientist who has apparently been toiling in obscurity since the sixties. His specialty is rare sugars "with nearly identical yet fundamentally different chemical structures, dozens of them, including some that taste just like table sugar but have almost zero calories."
Problem was, there was only one plant known to produce allulose, and cooking it up in a lab was insanely costly.
But guess what? Clever Ken found a way to make allulose on a larger scale "using a microbe he found in a garden." You turn those garden bugs loose on fructose, and voila! Cheap allulose. Ken is obviously not from the U.S. because the article says he is way more intrigued by the possible health benefits of these rare sugars than making bucket loads of money. He partnered with the Matsutani Chemical Industry Company to deal with commercial production of his version, Astraea allulose.
But Meanwhile Other Manufacturers Are Getting Hip to Allulose
Tate & Lyle, better known for Splendifying the world, has starting to market allulose to the food industry. They've dubbed their version, "Dolcia Prima." But it may be a different manufacturing process than Izumori's, and I don't know if any scrappy microbes from the garden are involved. (Honestly, I'm kinda rooting for the toiling-in-obscurity Japanese scientist guy to win this one, but whatever).
I think there may be others too but I got bored with that part of the research.
Possible Benefits of Allulose:
But according to the Newsweek report and the Council, Allulose:
- Tastes like sugar and has similar bulk;
- Cooks and browns like sugar;
- Is Very Low Calorie
- Is Possibly Helpful for Blood Sugar Regulation
- Is Reasonably Cheap to Produce (And Hopefully to Purchase)
- Does not Mess Up Your Gut (because most is excreted unprocessed through urine)
Allulose Health Dangers, Warnings, and Cautions:
The blog Eating Clean takes a much dimmer view of allulose, at least the Tate & Lyle version.
The IFT food science spokesgeek they quoted, Kantha Shelke, had a different take on the gut-friendliness of allulose, saying that more than a few tablespoons at a time could cause stomach distress.
Also, the Tate & Lyle version uses non-GMO corn as a source which freaks some people out. I'm not sure what I think of that yet, it sounds bad, but I don't know if the quantities involved would be significant enough to worry about. I'm hoping a different version wins the race to the supermarket shelves.
What do you guys think, would you consider trying out yet another fake sugar?
Note: I stumbled on this information myself and have not been plied with any free samples or offers of sponsored endorsements. Yet.
Allulose pimpers who may have googled in? Go ahead, ply away!!