Coconut Sugar: Is It Really Healthier Than White Sugar?

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Coconut sugar is considered a healthier alternative to granulated sugar, but is it really what it is? Let's find out together 

Don't store avocado like this: it's dangerous

Coconut sugar is considered a healthier alternative to granulated sugar, but is it really what it is? Let's find out together 





Lo coconut sugar it comes from the sap of the coconut palm, and not coconuts as you might think. Harvesters harness the sap of the coconut palm by cutting the stem of the tree bud to access its nectar. They mix the sap with water, boil it in a syrup and let it dry and crystallize. Next, they break up the dried sap to create sugar granules, which resemble regular white or brown sugar.

Coconut sugar is a very common sweetener and used in several vegan recipes, is plant-based and minimally processed. Precisely because it is a Unrefined, plant-based natural sweetener, some believe it is more nutritious than regular white sugar. In fact, it's nearly identical in terms of both nutrients and calories. (Read also: The "exotic" green alternatives to white sugar sweeteners)

Index

Coconut sugar: what it is and how it is produced

Coconut sugar is also called coconut palm sugar. It is natural based on coconut palm sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the plant; it is often confused with palm sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm.

Coconut sugar is produced in a natural process which consists of:

  • make a cut on the coconut palm flower
  • the liquid sap is collected in containers
  • the sap is boiled until most of the water has evaporated.

The final product is brown and granulated, similar in color to raw cane sugar, but the particle size is typically smaller.


Nutritional information

Coconut sugar retains many nutrients present in the coconut palm, mainly it contains:


  • iron
  • zinc 
  • football
  • potassium. 

It also contains theinulin, a soluble fiber, which is linked to a lower risk of blood sugar spikes.

One teaspoon of coconut sugar contains:

  • 18 calories
  • 0 grams of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 5 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0 grams of fiber
  • 5 grams of sugar

Benefits of coconut sugar

@Danifoto/123rf

In addition to its minimal processing, coconut sugar has others as well benefits. Let's find out together.

It could help keep your blood sugar in balance

Coconut contains small amounts of inulin, one soluble prebiotic fiber, which is digested slowly and is beneficial for gut health. As it slows digestion, this fiber can also help maintain blood sugar balance. As such, therefore, it Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than brown sugar or even maple sugar.

A search published in Food Science & Nutrition suggests that the glycemic index of coconut sugar is 35, while sugarcane can range from 58 to 82, on a scale of 100. But it's important to note that this can vary based on pairings or to food combinations.

It can support bone health

A 100-gram serving of coconut sugar provides 875 milligrams of potassium, a mineral effective in supporting heart health, and 375 milligrams of calcium essential for bone health. It is important to note to achieve these benefits one would need to consume a large amount of coconut sugar.



It could promote sustainability

Our personal health is tied to the health of the planet, so it's something to consider when it comes to making nutritional decisions. Another advantage of the coconut sugar is that it is a more sustainable choice than palm sugar or brown sugar. Make sure you choose an organic and certified fair trade brand.

Prevents hypoglycemia

The body relies on glucose for energy. Like brown sugar and granulated sugar, it Coconut sugar can help raise blood glucose levels and prevent conditions such as hypoglycemia. The latter can make you feel hungry, shaky, sweaty, lightheaded, or nauseous, and can also lead to more serious conditions like seizures and coma. If you are looking for a natural plant-based sweetener to keep blood glucose and energy levels high, coconut sugar is an ideal choice.

Coconut Sugar VS White Sugar

Coconut sugar is a natural sugar, the taste of which is more similar to brown sugar and resembles raw sugar, with a brown tinge and smaller granules. AND' less refined than white sugar: The sap is dried and packaged without any additional processing and, therefore, retains more nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium along with others polyphenols. That said, it shouldn't be consumed in excess because it's always sugar.

Is it more nutritious than regular sugar?

Refined white sugar and high fructose corn syrup contain no vital nutrients and therefore provide "empty" calories. Conversely, coconut sugar it retains quite a bit of the nutrients found in the coconut palm; the most important of these are minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, along with some short-chain fatty acids such as polyphenols and antioxidants.

It contains a fiber called inulin, which can slow down the absorption of glucose which explains why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to regular white sugar. Despite this, it is very caloric (equal to the same as regular sugar) and to get all the benefits you would need to take large quantities.

Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Glucose is assigned a GI of 100. For comparison, foods with a GI of 50 raise blood sugar levels by half that of pure glucose. White sugar has a index glicemico of about 60, while lo coconut sugar has a GI of 54. However, it is important to note that the glycemic index can vary greatly between individuals and can also differ between different batches of coconut sugar. While its inulin content likely slows sugar absorption, it's unclear whether this modest GI difference has any health relevance.

It's loaded with fructose

Added sugar is unhealthy because it causes blood sugar levels to rise significantly. It is also poor in nutrients, providing virtually no vitamins or minerals. Another possible reason why added sugar is so unhealthy is its high fructose content. While not all scientists are convinced that fructose can be a serious problem in healthy people, most agree that an excess of fructose may promote metabolic syndrome in obese individuals.

Regular white sugar (sucrose) contains 50% fructose and 50% glucose, while high fructose corn syrup contains about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Despite it coconut sugar is actually fructose-free, is composed of 70-80% sucrose, which is half fructose.

For this reason, it Coconut sugar provides almost the same amount of fructose as sugar White. Consumed in excess, added sugars can cause various types of problems, such as:

  • metabolic syndrome
  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • heart disease.

Although coconut sugar has a slightly better nutrient profile than regular sugar, its health effects are largely similar; accordingly, it is worth remembering to use coconut sugar in moderation like other sugars.

How to use coconut sugar in recipes

Coconut sugar can be used as a substitute for white sugar, both in baked goods and in coffee. Taste-wise, it has a sweet caramel-like flavor, which can cause desserts to taste different.

Cooking with coconut sugar tends to get a little more complicated from a texture standpoint; in fact, it is important to keep in mind that it does Coconut sugar does not have the same chemical composition as white sugartherefore, in order for a recipe to be successful it needs a significant amount of liquids and fats.

In addition, it cannot withstand too high temperatures such as brown or white sugar; it is advisable to avoid temperatures above 140 ° to avoid burns. When using coconut sugar in place of other liquid sweeteners or as a substitute for white or brown sugar, coconut sugar tends to be drier, so you need to add some extra liquid or moisture to the recipe, for example using yogurt or a banana puree.

@ Manuta / 123rf

Coconut Sugar and Other Sweeteners: A Comparison

Coconut Sugar VS Palm Sugar

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As palm sugar is often called coconut palm sugar, the two are easy to confuse, but they are actually two different sweeteners. The two sugars come from different plants and have different harvesting methods (palm sugar is obtained by boiling the sap of palm flowers until it is reduced to sugar grains, but it is also sold in paste). They both have caramel notes, but some have observed that palm sugar has more smoky undertones.

Coconut Sugar VS Monk Fruit

@ Martinak / 123rf

Coconut sugar and fruit of the monk they are typically used as a substitute for sucrose or white sugar, although monk fruit has a stevia-like aftertaste. Monk fruit tends to dissolve a little better than coconut sugar, making it a great option for sweetening drinks. Plus, the fruit is much sweeter, so a tiny pinch is all it takes.

Unlike coconut sugar, which has a slight gastrointestinal impact due to its prebiotic fiber content, monk fruit is a non-nutritional or non-calorie sweetener that will have no impact on blood sugar

Coconut Sugar VS Date Sugar

@Bondd/123rf

If you're looking for another sugar alternative with some extra nutrients, this is it date sugar it's a noteworthy option. It is produced from the fruit of the date tree, which is ground and dried in sugar; as a result, all the fiber, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content we know of from dates remains intact, such as vitamin A, vitamin B complex, iron and zinc. While its fiber content coupled with slower blood sugar absorption is an advantage, you should consume large amounts of date sugar to gain significant nutritional benefits.

Coconut Sugar VS Honey

@Kriachko/123rf

Coconut sugar nectar has a similar consistency to honey; so they are quite interchangeable in recipes. From a taste point of view, the latter offers floral notes, while the coconut sugar provides caramel notes. If you're trying to keep your glycemic index low, honey is slightly higher (58 versus 54, respectively), so it may not be your best bet. Honey in its favor has a great abundance of research available that confirm the benefits. 

Coconut Sugar VS Agave

@Patrickhastings/123rf

THEagave has a much higher fructose content than coconut sugar. From a health point of view, agave syrup comes from the blue agave plant and undergoes heavier processing, therefore, it does not retain as many nutrients. The flavor profile of agave is much more neutral than coconut sugar, which makes it a little more versatile in cooking.

Potential Risks of Coconut Sugar

Although coconut sugar contains very small amounts of minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, it is nonetheless rich in calories. You would have to ingest so much coconut sugar for your body to use its nutrients, that the calorie count would likely outweigh any nutritional benefits. Nutritionists tend to treat it coconut sugar like regular table sugar and, consequently, they recommend limiting its quantity

Healthy alternatives

If you are worried about getting too many added sugars, but still need to sweeten what you drink or eat, the best option is to use fresh fruit. For example, you can use le in sweet recipes mashed bananas or apple or pear puree; other natural sweeteners to use in the kitchen are thevanilla extract, or spices such as cinnamon, cocoa powder or even almond extract.

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