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What are Rare Sugars?


What are Rare Sugars?


A sweetener is a food additive, which has the effect of sugar on taste and are called sugar substitutes. Sweeteners came into existence more as a replacement or alternatives for table sugar for diabetic people.

But these days demand for substitutes for sugar has increased by leaps and bounds not because diabetics have increased in number but more since they are low-calorie sweeteners. Sugar is one of the major reasons for obesity in the modern world. And the obesity numbers are increasing at an alarming rate. Every possible way to reduce calorie consumption is being researched.

What are rare sugars?

Rare sugars are monosaccharides and their derivatives that are found in nature but are found in limited quantities. A great deal of attention is being paid to these rare sugars mostly because of their application. These rare sugars can be used as a substitute to sugar as they give sweetness but lack of calories. Monosaccharides such as D-glucose and D-fructose are few in number while there are more than 50 types of rare sugars found.

These sugars are metabolized to a lesser level or not metabolized in the body and because of these properties, they become important for people with diabetes. They also do not have any unpleasant taste.

‘The International Society of Rare Sugars’ defined rare sugars as monosaccharides and their derivatives that are present in limited quantities in nature.


D-psicose is a rare sugar which has 70% of the sweetness of sucrose. It has higher solubility compared to sucrose which makes it very convenient to use in food processing. It’s also stated that when D-psicose is added to foods it improves the gelling property, shelf life and also increases antioxidant value. It is zero energy rare sugar.

D-psicose also known as D‐allulose, according to studies conducted on mice show that it may be helpful as a supplement for preventing and improving obesity and obesity‐related disorders. Preliminary study in humans demonstrated that d-allulose was able to reduce body fat mass in overweight or obese subjects and that the effects of d-allulose supplementation are likely to be dose-dependent.


Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar and it looks like sugar and tastes like sugar. It is found naturally and can be synthesized from pentosans that are present naturally in many plants. It can be metabolized without depending on insulin and it has very low calorific value. Xylitol is not fermented by bacteria and the food products to which it is added such as chewing gum do not cause dental caries.


D-tagatose is a keto-hexose. It is structurally similar to D-fructose except for an inverted optically active center and can be used as a sweetener because it has excellent taste and very low energy value. It is synthesized from lactose and recommended for people with diabetes and those who want to control their weight.


D-allose is a non-caloric sweetener and can also be used as a bulking agent. It also exhibits antioxidant properties.

Rare sugars because of their functional characteristics prevent diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and obesity by suppression of lipid accumulation and hyperglycemia. Due to the positive results being shown by rare sugars, out of the more than fifty rare sugars, D-allulose and D-allose are being commercially manufactured. To reduce the risk of obesity and lifestyle diseases rare sugars in place of sugar can be one approach.

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