Allulose vs Stevia: Which Sugar Alternative Is Best?

6 min read

Allulose vs Stevia: Which Sugar Alternative Is Best?

Embarking on a journey to discover the perfect sugar substitute? There are plenty of options for you to choose from! Stevia and allulose stand out as popular choices, each with unique characteristics and potential benefits. 


Stevia, derived from the leaves of the South American Stevia rebaudiana plant, has a rich history in indigenous communities and it's celebrated for being plant-based and far sweeter than sugar. In contrast, allulose, a low-calorie sugar found naturally in certain fruits, presents a compelling case with its minimal impact on blood sugar levels and versatility in cooking. 


Join us as we delve into the nuances of these sweeteners, exploring their nutritional profiles, potential benefits, taste differences, and safety considerations. This allulose vs. stevia showdown promises to unveil the sweet secrets behind these natural sugar alternatives. 

What Is Stevia?

Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the South American Stevia rebaudiana plant. The sweetness in Stevia comes from compounds found in the leaves of the plant called steviol glycosides, primarily stevioside and rebaudioside. These can be anywhere from 180-400 times sweeter than regular table sugar, making it a popular sweetener! [1]


This sugar alternative boasts a long history as both a sweetener and medicinal herb in indigenous communities across Paraguay and Brazil. Although it’s native to South America, it’s now grown worldwide. [2] That means it’s common to find this sugar-free and low-calorie alternative in a wide range of foods and beverages, including coffee, tea, desserts, savory dishes, and soda (like OLIPOP!).

What Is Allulose?

Allulose is a low-calorie, naturally occurring sugar that belongs to the rare category of monosaccharides, which are simple sugars that contain only a single sugar molecule. [3] Also known as psicose, allulose is naturally found in small quantities in certain fruits and foods, such as figs, raisins, wheat, and molasses. [4] However, because allulose only exists naturally in small amounts, you’re less likely to see this sweetener compared to other lower-cost alternatives. This might change, however! Researchers have been hard at work discovering ways to artificially craft this sweetener from fructose or fruit sugar — which should make it easier to mass produce. [4]  [5]


There’s a reason why researchers are going through the effort. Unlike traditional sugars, allulose boasts an astonishingly low calorie count. While a gram of table sugar (sucrose) packs in around 4 calories, allulose clocks in at just 0.4 calories per gram. [4] This makes it a great solution if you're seeking to trim your calorie intake or maintain your weight without sacrificing the indulgent sweetness you crave.

Allulose vs. Stevia

Both allulose and stevia are naturally occurring sugar substitutes with a passion for helping you cut back on calories and added sugars. But how exactly do they compare when it comes to nutrition, benefits, taste, and their effects on blood sugar? Let’s dive into the details:

Nutrition Facts

One of the main reasons to choose a sugar substitute is the lack of sugar and, therefore, calories. Both allulose and stevia offer next to no calories. And of the calories they do possess, the body doesn’t digest them like it does sugar. [4] In other words, they provide sweetness without any substantive nutritional baggage. That’s why neither allulose nor stevia count as “added sugars” or “total sugars” on the nutrition label. [5] This makes these natural sweeteners a favorite among those watching their calorie and carbohydrate intake. 

Benefits

As zero-calorie and sugar-free sweeteners, both allulose and stevia help reduce the amount of added sugars in your diet. According to some research, too much added sugar can increase your risk of various health problems like type 2 diabetes or heart disease. [6] This is by far their biggest benefit. But what are their individual talents?


Stevia is plant-based and all-natural, making it a popular choice against artificial or man-made sweeteners. It’s also up to 400 times sweeter than sugar which means you need a whole lot less of it to get the same sweet benefits. Plus, it’s super easy to add stevia to food products and, because it’s heat-stable, it also makes a great addition to baked goods. Some studies also suggest that stevia may help improve insulin sensitivity and offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, we need more research to confirm this. [7]


Allulose is also a great sweetener for everything from baked goods to beverages. It’s a favorite among keto dieters thanks to its low sugar and carbohydrate content, low glycemic impact, and versatility in cooking and baking. [3] Lastly, even though allulose is a monosaccharide or simple sugar, it doesn’t have the same cavity-forming potential as table sugar. It’s not metabolized in the mouth meaning that it doesn’t contribute to enamel erosion or promote the growth of cavity-forming bacteria. [5]

Effects on Blood Sugar

Allulose and stevia offer another important advantage – they don’t significantly impact your blood sugar levels. [3] Unlike regular sugar, which can cause spikes in blood glucose, allulose and stevia metabolize differently in the body and, as a result, have minimal effects on your insulin response and blood sugar levels. [8] 


Your small intestine absorbs about 70% of the allulose you consume, which leaves the body through your urine less than a day later. The remaining 30% passes through your large intestine and gets excreted from the body within 48 hours. [5] Stevia follows a similar pattern. This non-digestible characteristic makes allulose and stevia suitable sweeteners for those with diabetes or anyone aiming to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Sweetness & Taste

Allulose and stevia differ most in terms of taste and texture. While stevia is anywhere from 180-400 times sweeter than sucrose or regular table sugar, allulose is only 70% as sweet as sucrose. [5] So you need a bit more allulose and far less stevia to match the sugar-sweet taste you might expect from old-fashioned sugar. 


The taste is also slightly different between the two. Allulose tastes very similar to the sugar you know and love, and many report that it doesn’t have any bitter or chemical aftertaste like you might find in artificial sweeteners. [4] While allulose tastes very similar to traditional sugar, stevia has a much sweeter profile. Some people may also experience a slightly bitter or licorice-like aftertaste with certain stevia products. To counteract this, commercial stevia sweeteners are often blended with other ingredients or sugar alcohols to enhance their overall taste and sweetness profile. 


For example, at OLIPOP, we use stevia to help sweeten our sodas. But you won’t notice any bitterness given we also add natural sweeteners like cassava syrup and fruit juice for a more sumptuous and smooth flavor.

Allulose vs. Stevia: Side Effects

These naturally occurring sweeteners sound too good to be true… are there any side effects? Let’s dive into the safety of both.

Is Allulose Safe?

Allulose is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). [3] As long as you’re consuming a small amount in moderation, allulose shouldn’t cause any negative side effects. However, like other natural and artificial sweeteners, side effects can occur if you’re consuming too much. Side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort like bloating, constipation, and gas. To avoid discomfort, add only small amounts to your diet and pay attention to how your body reacts. But, most people won’t experience any of these effects. [3] 

Is Stevia Safe?

Stevia is also generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA and approved for use as a sweetener by various regulatory agencies around the world. Numerous scientific studies have also evaluated the safety of steviol glycosides, the compounds responsible for the sweet taste in stevia, with the conclusion that they are safe for consumption. But as with any food product, it's important to be mindful of your body's reactions and preferences, especially when trying it for the first time.

Other Sugar Substitutes

Allulose and stevia aren’t the only FDA-approved sugar substitutes! There are other artificial and natural sweeteners approved for use in foods and beverages including: [4]


  • Advantame
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Aspartame
  • Luo han guo (monk fruit extract)
  • Neotame
  • Saccharin
  • Sucralose

Interested in diving into the differences between stevia vs. sucralose or monk fruit vs. stevia? Join us on our blog for more head-to-head comparisons! 

Allulose vs Stevia: The Takeaway

Sugar alternatives like allulose and stevia are great options for cutting back on calories, helping control your blood sugar levels, or just having a sweet treat without worrying about all that extra added sugar. And although their taste profiles differ somewhat, they’re both perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth! Right now, allulose is still a newcomer to the sweetener scene. It’s less available and more expensive than stevia but that is likely to change given the recent discovery of producing allulose from fructose. [5] 


Which one is right for you? That’s an answer we’ll leave to your taste buds. And speaking of taste buds, you can put stevia and all-natural ingredients to the test with a can of OLIPOP. Each OLIPOP flavor contains natural stevia leaf extract and cassava root syrup, giving it an amazing taste without artificial ingredients. Now that’s a sugar-free win!


Sources

  1. Saurabh Sharma, Swati Walia, Bikram Singh. “Comprehensive review on agro technologies of low-calorie natural sweetener stevia (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni): a boon to diabetic patients.” J Sci Food Agric. Vol 96, no 6, 2016, pp. 1867-79. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7500
  2. “Stevia Taste Science,” PureCircle Stevia Institute, n.d., https://www.purecirclesteviainstitute.com/healthy-lifestyle/great-taste/stevia-taste-science
  3. Benisek, A. (2023, April 14). Allulose: What to know about this sugar alternative. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/what-is-allulose
  4. What You Need To Know About Allulose. (2022, August 26). Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-allulose
  5. Sollid, K. (2021, December 15). What is Allulose? Food Insight. https://foodinsight.org/what-is-allulose-a-different-kind-of-low-calorie-sweetener/
  6. How Much Is Too Much? (2018, December 8). University of California San Francisco SugarScience. Retrieved May 4, 2023, from https://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overconsumption.html#.ZFPFkz3MLYj
  7. Anton, S. D., Martin, C. K., Han, H., Coulon, S. M., Cefalu, W. T., Geiselman, P. J., & Williamson, D. A. (2010). Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite, 55(1), 37–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2010.03.009
  8. Tey, S. L., Salleh, N. B., Henry, J., & Forde, C. G. (2016). Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake. International Journal of Obesity, 41(3), 450–457. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2016.225
Cheat Sheet
  • Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from the leaves of the South American Stevia rebaudiana plant. It's 180-400 times sweeter than regular table sugar. 
  • Allulose is a low-calorie, naturally occurring sugar that belongs to the rare category of monosaccharides, which are simple sugars that contain only a single sugar molecule.
  • Allulose and stevia are both great options for cutting back on calories, added sugar, and helping control your blood sugar levels.
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