Coconut sugar – a healthy, trendy alternative to regular sugar, superfood, or the new sweetener?
Knowing the health dangers associated with high fructose corn syrup and added sugar consumption, coconut sugar is becoming extremely popular in the baking world as it is a 1:1 replacement for refined sugar.
Coconut sugar is widely available nowadays due to the growing interest in other coconut products, which are clearly healthy. Coconut water, coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut butter have antimicrobial, antiviral, immune-boosting properties. In fact, coconut is considered one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
In this article, we will explore some myths and facts about coconut sugar.
What is coconut sugar?
As the name suggests, coconut sugar, aka coconut palm sugar, is made using sap from flower buds on the coconut tree, native to tropical and sub-tropical areas. The sap is heated and dries to form brown granules of sugar, which has a slight caramel flavor. Coconut sugar is popularly used in many vegan diets as a sweetener as it is plant-based.
What are the nutritional facts of coconut sugar?
Surprisingly, one teaspoon of coconut sugar has the same nutrition facts, 15 calories, and 4g carbohydrates, as one teaspoon of cane or white refined sugar. It has no protein, fiber, sodium, and no fat.
Coconut sugar can retain some of its natural B vitamins, minerals like zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, and antioxidants because it undergoes very little processing. However, these nutrients can have a measurable benefit when consuming coconut sugar in large quantities.
Coconut sugar has inulin, which acts as a prebiotic that feeds intestinal bacteria that promote gut health and increases immunity. Inulin may also slow down glucose absorption accounting for the low glycemic index of coconut sugar.
The glycemic index measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Glucose has a GI of 100, table sugar or sucrose has a GI around 60, and coconut sugar has a GI of 54.
Is Coconut sugar a healthy sugar alternative? Does it support weight loss?
Coconut sugar has 70-80% sucrose, and because sucrose is made of glucose and fructose equally, coconut sugar has 35-40% fructose content. Consuming too much fructose is directly linked to a person’s risk of health disorders, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
With that said, unfortunately, coconut sugar is not a weight-loss miracle or nutritional wonder, nor is it a superfood. And it cannot be added to a keto-diet guilt-free and without restraint as it cannot be considered “keto-compliant.”
If you are looking for healthier and natural sugar substitutes to curb your tooth as you manage your diabetes, several alternatives are available. These include Stevia, Erythritol, Advantame, Yacon Syrup, and monk fruit and nectars such as dates and agave.
In a nutshell, coconut sugar is just a natural alternative to sugar and is much more expensive than brown sugar, another option to refined white sugar. Like any other alternative such as honey, maple syrup, or molasses, it must be consumed in moderation. You can use it in your coffee or baking goods but remember coconut sugar is still sugar. It has the same number of calories per serving as other sugars, refined or not.
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