If you didn’t know, coconut sugar is becoming the new alternative to added sugar & you might wonder why so in this blog post, we’ll be diving deep to find out how its made, what are its nutritional benefits, as well as the differences & similarities it has to table sugar.
- How it’s made:
Coconut sugar is a natural sugar made from palm sap, which is the sugar liquid of the coconut plant. It is often confused with palm sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree.
Coconut sugar is made in a natural 2-step process:
- A cut is made on the flower of the coconut palm and the liquid sap is collected into containers.
- The sap is placed under heat until most of the water has evaporated. Becoming dehydrated.
The product is brown and granulated. Its colour is similar to that of raw sugar, but the particle size is typically smaller or more variable.
- What are its nutritional benefits?
This sugar is derived from the coconut palm tree and touted as being more nutritious and lower on the glycaemic index than sugar.
Regular table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup don’t contain any vital nutrients and therefore supply “empty” calories. However, coconut sugar does retain quite a bit of the nutrient found in the coconut palm, such as minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, along with some short-chain fatty acids like polyphenols and antioxidants. Then it contains a fibre called inulin, which may slow glucose absorption and explain why coconut sugar has a lower glycaemic index than regular table sugar.
Coconut sugar causes a slightly lower rise in blood sugar than regular table sugar. Although the respective health benefits are modest.
- Similarities & differences:
- Coconut sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm, while cane sugar comes from reduced sugar cane juice.
- The sweetness. Coconut sugar is noticeably less sweet than cane sugar. According to some estimates, it has about 75 % of cane sugar’s sweetness. The reduced sweetness may have to do with the fact that coconut sugar comes with nutrients that are not found in cane or sugar or not found in the same concentrations. Along with its sweetness, coconut sugar has caramel and toffee notes; cane sugar is simply sweet.
- Coconut sugar contains some inulin, whereas table sugar and corn syrup do not. (Inulin is a specific fibre that may be beneficial to the body, helping improve gut health and slowing glucose absorption.)
Just like everything else in life, coconut sugar too should be enjoyed in moderation as it contains fructose. (& is thought of as a low GI food because the body cannot convert it immediately to energy).
Consuming too much fructose (whether derived from coconut sugar or regular sugar), particularly from sugar-sweetened drinks, could still put a person at risk for health disorders including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.