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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
Icon Foods’ new KetoseSweet+ ingredients are suited for those controlling blood sugar levels as well as those on low-sugar or ketogenic diets.
Allulose, or D-allulose, is an up-and-coming ingredient in the sweetening world. This low-calorie sweetener, which naturally occurs in sources like wheat, figs, raisins, and jackfruit, is molecularly similar to fructose and glucose, but it has an outstanding quality: because it is not rapidly digested, metabolized, and absorbed by the body like fructose and glucose are, it does not impact blood sugar and insulin levels and thus is safe for use by those controlling blood sugar levels, such as those with diabetes, in addition to being attractive to people following low-sugar/low-carb or ketogenic diets.
While allulose is only 70% sweet when used alone, one company, Icon Foods (formerly Steviva Ingredients; Portland, OR), is combining allulose with high-intensity sweeteners stevia and monk fruit. The resulting blends can be used to replace sugar as a sweetener, while being lower calorie and blood sugar friendly. The company is supplying the ingredients under the brand name KetoseSweet. (The purely-allulose ingredient is called KetoseSweet, while versions including monk fruit, stevia, or both are called KetoseSweet+.)
Thom King, president and CEO of Icon Foods, describes how the KetoseSweet+ ingredients containing stevia and/or monk fruit formulate similarly to sugar, while providing good mouthfeel. “The KetoseSweet+ flavor profile is very neutral, with a mouthfeel very similar to sugar. Allulose on its own is only around 70% as sweet as sugar, so a high-intensity sweetener is required to bring it to just about parity,” he adds. When combined with stevia and/or monk fruit, he says the combination is a “one-for-one plug-in replacement for sugar.”
As such, he says, “since KetoseSweet+ is nearly identical to sugar in every way, including functionality, replacing sugar is really easy.” It can be used in carbonated and non-carbonated beverages, baked goods, frozen desserts, syrups, gums, confectionery, and more, and it can even contribute functional improvements such as moisture binding and browning via Maillard reaction.
As far as KetoseSweet+’s calorie content, the company says it is comparable to the sugar alcohol (polyol) erythritol, but sidesteps any laxative effects or cooling effect. “Compared to sugar’s 4 calories per gram, KetoseSweet+ [both stevia and monk fruit versions] has only 0.2 calories per gram,” King says. He adds that researchers in Japan recently found that allulose may also enhance fat metabolism and help maintain a healthy body weight.
The composition of KetoseSweet+ is in the neighborhood of 85% allulose and less than 15% stevia and monk fruit, King says. All three sweeteners, when combined, “pass through the digestive system unmetabolized,” he says.
King says his company is finally moving to allulose now that supply is stabilizing. “This is the first allulose-based sweetening system Icon Foods is offering,” he says. “We considered it for the past five years, but we didn’t feel like the supply chain was solid enough, and the price was too high. Now, it is at parity with most polyols, and cheaper than some, so it is now a viable option.”
King says that one of Icon’s supply chain partners, Tate & Lyle (London), which supplies the Dolcia Prima allulose line, is now petitioning FDA to exclude allulose from being listed as an added sugar on U.S. Nutrition Facts labels because, unlike other sugars, it is not metabolized by the body and has “negligible” calories. At the time of publication, an FDA response was still pending.