Coconut sugar is the latest new product starting to appear on health food store shelves and in products and recipes. This sweetener is different though, it’s not a fad, it’s a natural and healthy option.
Coconut sugar is made from…you guessed it, coconut palm trees.
More specifically, coconut sugar is made from the nectar or sap from budding coconut blossoms. This nectar is then boiled down, resulting in crystal formation. These crystals can then be made into a syrup-like paste, a hard block, or a granulated form, all of which you can purchase as coconut sugar in the store.
So what makes coconut sugar a good way to go? Sugar is sugar right? It all comes from plants anyways.
Unlike the commonly consumed cane sugar, coconut sugar offers many different nutrition and health benefits.
- High in vitamins and minerals. Coconut sugar is high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, vitamin C and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6.
- Contains inositol. Inositol helps promote hair growth, proper nerve transmission, cholesterol metabolism, and removal of fats from the liver.
- A source of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins and are essential for the growth and development of new cells and tissues in the body.
- Low Glycemic Index. The glycemic index measures how quickly a food turns to sugar in the body. A glycemic number below 55 (GI-55) is considered a low-glycemic food. Low glycemic foods are important in helping to prevent spikes in blood sugar, because the faster a food turns to sugar in the body, the faster blood sugar levels will raise. Coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 35, compared to cane sugar’s glycemic index of 68.
- Blood Sugar Control & Diabetes. Thanks to its low glycemic index, coconut sugar may be safer alternative to cane sugar for individuals with diabetes, since it does not cause sharp increases in blood sugar the way cane sugar does.
- Weight Control. Another benefit to low-glycemic foods is their ability to help control and prevent food cravings. Increases in blood sugar levels can cause people to “feel” hungry even when they don’t need food. Substituting coconut sugar for cane sugar may help prevent people from feeling unnecessarily hungry.
- Cancer Prevention. Diets with a lot of high-glycemic foods cause increases in the body’s insulin levels (in response to high blood sugar). Elevated insulin levels have been linked to increased risk of breast, colon, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. Switching to lower-glycemic foods may help protect against cancer.
So who said sugar is sugar?
As you can see, the type of sugar you eat can make a difference. That said, nourish your body with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based lean proteins, enjoy sugar in moderation, and when you do, make it coconut!
Cooking with Coconut
You can substitute coconut sugar directly for cane sugar as a 1 to 1 ratio (1 cup coconut sugar for 1 cup cane sugar) in any of your favorite recipes.
Overall, try and reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by starting to cut back 1 tablespoon at a time until texture of recipe is affected.