Potential applications for Astraea allulose include beverages, confections, dairy, bakery and sweet goods.

CHICAGO —Matsutani America, Inc. has launched a form of sugar called Astraea allulose, a plant-based, low-calorie sweetener with physiological benefits. It is 0.2 calories per gram, which compares to 4 calories per gram for sugar. It is 70% as sweet as sucrose.

“Not only does Astraea reduce calories in finished products, it provides physiological benefits such as helping to regulate blood sugar levels and lowering lipid accumulation in the body,” said Yutaka Miyamoto, executive vice-president of Matsutani America. “Manufacturing companies can formulate with Astraea to create low-calorie products for all food and beverage segments without the drawbacks of long-lasting aftertaste and synthetic or chemical perception.”

Potential applications include beverages, confections, dairy, bakery and sweet goods. Astraea allulose can be used as a 100% table-top granular sugar replacement and as a replacement for hard candy and chewing gum at 50%. Benefits include calorie reduction, no aftertaste, improvements in aroma and color, and masking of unwanted flavor.

Astraea allulose is a rare sugar monosaccharide, the simplest form of sugar and one of about 50 types that exist in small quantities in nature and as components of food, according to Matsutani America.

“Until now, rare sugar has been almost entirely unavailable commercially, and it has also been exceptionally expensive,” said Tetsuo Iida, Ph.D., director of rare sugar research and development. “This has made it difficult to obtain the steady supply necessary for manufacturing and conducting proper research.”

Researchers at Kagawa University in Japan have discovered a way to produce rare sugars from the more common monosaccharides found in nature, allowing the university to partner with businesses for large-scale production. Astraea is created using a process known as “Izumoring,” coined by Ken Izumori, Ph.D. When a monosaccharide reacts with a microbial enzyme, it causes the sugar to change from one type to another. A variety of rare sugars can be made this way, Dr. Iida said.

Matsutani America, Inc. is exhibiting at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition through Tuesday. The company, based in Itasca, Ill., is part of Japan-based Matsutani Chemical Industry Co. Ltd.