Allulose vs monk fruit: which one should you choose? It can be tough to find a sugar alternative that’s both tasty and healthy to satisfy your sweet tooth. These two popular sugar substitutes have been gaining popularity, so let’s talk about them.
You may be wondering: what are their differences? Which is the better choice? If you’re new around here – welcome! I’m Jamie, a Registered Dietitian who believes in approaching your diet with balance.
In this blog post, I’ll walk you through what these two sweeteners are, what makes them different, and some of the science behind their potential risks and benefits. That way you can make an informed decision on which sweetener is best for you!
This post may contain affiliate links.
What is Allulose?
Allulose is a relatively new sugar substitute that’s gaining popularity because it tastes and acts just like sugar but contains almost no calories. It’s a monosaccharide (a simple sugar) that naturally occurs in small quantities in figs, raisins, and other fruits.
Allulose can also be manufactured from corn (1).
Allulose is about 70% as sweet as white table sugar with only 10% of the calories (2).
It’s becoming increasingly popular in baked goods because it doesn’t crystallize like other sugar substitutes like the sugar alcohols erythritol or xylitol, but still has the sweet taste you’re looking for.
What is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit (or monk fruit extract) is made by extracting the juice from the fruit, then drying it and grinding it into a powder. It is becoming increasingly popular in the western market because it’s natural and has zero calories.
Monk fruit is similar to stevia extract in that it is a sweetener that comes naturally from a plant; how “processed” it is depends on the specific product that you buy.
Monk fruit is 100-250 times sweeter than sugar. This means that a granulated product with monk fruit is going to require other ingredients to bulk up the product in order to substitute it for regular sugar in baking and cooking.
Some people are a bit more sensitive to the intense sweetness of monk fruit extract and report a bitter aftertaste, depending on how much is used in a product.
Are they safe?
Monk fruit has only been available in the US market since 2010. According to the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA), monk fruit is considered to be safe (4).
Similarly, allulose is also recognized as safe by the FDA (5).
It’s possible to have side effects from anything new in your diet, including using alternative sweeteners.
Some people have reported some digestive issues with a larger amount of allulose, but many people have eaten this sweetener with zero side effects (6).
Monk fruit does not have any reported side effects (7).
While both monk fruit and allulose appear to be safe in the very small amounts that we’re typically consuming them, both are relatively new sugar alternatives, so both are lacking long-term research.
How Do They Compare To Other Sweeteners?
Both allulose and monk fruit are a great alternative when it comes to sweetening foods and drinks due to their low-calorie count and natural origin.
Other sugar-substitute sweeteners, such as aspartame or saccharin, have been around for years, but are artificial sweeteners and much more processed.
And unlike other natural sugary sweeteners that are often perceived as “healthier”, like maple syrup or coconut sugar, both monk fruit extract and allulose won’t affect your blood sugar or contribute calories to your day.
Which one is better for health?
In terms of weight loss, both sweeteners have a low-calorie count and can replace sugar in almost any recipe. Therefore, if you’re working on weight loss goals, either one is a good option to support your goals (8).
Neither monk fruit or allulose will raise blood sugar levels, making it a good sugar alternative for anyone struggling with blood sugar issues like insulin resistance or diabetes. Unlike sugar, they also won’t contribute to any tooth decay.
Now the question is: do you need to use one of these sweeteners?
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25g of added sugar for women and no more than 36g of added sugar for women per day. Most of the general public does consume more sugar than that, so finding sugar alternatives isn’t a bad idea.
But, if choosing a new sweetener that you don’t really enjoy causes you to end up overeating or binging on the real stuff later, it’s really not having a positive effect on your sugar intake.
Here’s what I mean: if you were to have a chocolate chip cookie with real sugar, would you limit yourself to just a few, vs. if you had a batch of cookies made with a sugar substitute, would you eat more because they’re “healthier?” If changing your sweetener changes your behavior, it might not be a great choice.
Do they taste good?
In terms of taste, the main difference is that allulose is less sweet than monk fruit extract. The sweetness level of monk fruit can be a bit much, especially if too much is used. But, I’ve found products I enjoy that use both sweeteners.
It will likely come down to your personal preference. This may surprise you, but as a dietitian, it actually matters to me that you enjoy your meals and snacks. Health isn’t all about deprivation, no matter what the fad diets might have us believe.
If you make a drink or dessert with a sugar-substitute and you don’t enjoy it anymore, it might not actually be the healthier choice for you. You deserve to enjoy your meals; satisfaction is part of healthy eating.
This also helps to illustrate that nutrition is incredibly personal. There are no cookie-cutter plans that will work for everyone; we all have different priorities and preferences!
My personal preference is to use a combination of sugar alternatives and real sugar. If it’s a recipe or product that calls for an alternative and I like it, awesome. But if I love something that has a bit of real added sugar, I just use some mindful eating strategies.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of “right” ways to eat well; the best sweetener is the one that supports your goals and satisfaction.
Where to find them
You can likely find both allulose and monk fruit at your local grocery store today, but there are lots of options on Amazon too.
That’s a wrap
Allulose and monk fruit are the two of the most popular natural alternative sweeteners on the market right now. They are both low in calories, non-glycemic, and are safe sweeteners.
In either case, they’re an option to help lower calories and sugar, and they won’t have an effect on your blood glucose levels. As long as you don’t compensate by having more of the sweet option because you’re using an alternative sweetener.
And, if you don’t like the taste of these sweeteners, skip ‘em and work on mindfulness instead (that’s a good idea either way). Forcing yourself to use something you hate will just leave you frustrated.
No matter what you use, traditional sugar or an alternative, they should be enjoyed in moderation.
If you’d like more structure in your meal planning so that you can feel confident that you’re nourishing your body well, without following a fad diet, check out my Balanced Basics Handbook. This comprehensive guide shows you how to eat well, without counting macros or calories!