The more people become conscious about their health and fitness, the more they realize how harmful sugar is. Throughout America, we are now seeing a lot of people trying to pull away from using sugar. The ill-effects and detrimental impact of sugar is now a major talking point amongst nutritionists and other health experts. Therefore, since the last five years or so, we are seeing a new trend in the health industry. More and more people are migrating to sugar substitutes, which are more natural and healthy. One of the most exciting and flavorful of those substitutes is coconut sugar, which is taking the world by a storm. So, what is coconut sugar, and how does it help you? Here’s a look at the significant coconut sugar benefits that will inspire you to switch over to more natural alternatives.
What is Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar is a natural substitute for white sugar derived from the coconut palm. It is quickly gaining traction around the world for being more nutritious and healthy than regular sugar. This kind of sugar is made from coconut palm sap, a sugary fluid created by the coconut tree. While it is often confused with palm sugar, it is quite different as the sap comes from another type of palm tree. The best thing about coconut sugar is that it is very natural and requires minimal processing.
How is Coconut Sugar Made?
- A coconut palm tree is located, and it is checked for flowers.
- A cut is made on the flower of the palm.
- Once the cut is made, a liquid sap starts to seep out.
- This sap is collected in containers hung around the flower.
- Once it is fully collected, the sap is placed under heat.
- Heating ensures that all water present in the sap evaporates.
- After evaporation, you are left with a lump of granulated, brown-colored sugar that is slightly clumpy.
Is Coconut Sugar Healthier Than Regular Sugar?
The biggest problem with regular sugar is that it contains no nutrients. The only purpose it has is to provide us with glucose or instant energy. Other than that, all it does is add to our carb intake, which is something you want to reduce. Similarly, high-fructose sweet syrups, such as corn syrup, also do not contain any essential vitamins or minerals. Essentially, their only purpose is to make something sweet.
However, natural alternatives like date sugar and coconut sugar are different because they contain nutrients in them. Therefore, instead of munching on empty calories that help you gain weight, you get to add sweetness and nutrients into your diet. Coconut sugar can retain a lot of nutrients you would find in the fruit, as the process is minimalist. Some of the significant nutrients that coconut sugar contains are zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, polyphenols, healthy fats, and antioxidants! If all that wasn’t enough, it also contains fiber in the form of inulin, which aids in slowing glucose absorption. Therefore, coconut sugar has a lower Glycemic Index when compared to regular sugar. When you compare coconut sugar with other fruits and veggies, it obviously contains fewer nutrients. However, the purpose of coconut sugar is also to sweeten products. Unlike sugar, which does so without adding any value, coconut sugar is a healthier alternative because of the nutrients it adds. Therefore, when you compare it to other sweeteners, you will see that it is much healthier and nutritious.
Benefits of Coconut Sugar
- It has a lower Glycemic Index, which inhibits faster absorption and release of glucose into your bloodstream. When you compare them, we can see that average sugar has a GI of 60, whereas coconut sugar has a much lower rating of 35.
- Coconut sugar contains inulin, which slows down sugar absorption, and also fiber which helps prevent indigestion.
- It contains traces of various minerals and antioxidants, making it a more all-around sweetener.
- Since it isn’t refined or chemically altered, it contains less harmful ingredients and synthetic substances.
- Certain studies have shown that coconut sugar has less fructose content than regular sugar. However, other studies claim the opposite, and so, no clear winner can be drawn in this aspect.
- As it is high in magnesium, sodium, and potassium, it acts as an excellent electrolyte.
- Insulin promotes the development and growth of helpful intestinal bifidobacteria, which helps in boosting your immunity. These bacteria also help with the production of thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and K.
- It is a Paleo-approved substitute for white sugar.
Tips on Using Coconut Sugar
- Make sure you read all the labels before buying coconut sugar in the US. A lot of brands mix coconut sugar with cane sugar. Therefore, you might not get the results you want, unless you read the ingredient label carefully before buying anything!
- While coconut sugar does contain nutrients, it is also high in calories. Therefore, to actually lose weight and stay fit, make sure you don’t consume too much of this sweetener.
- If you are looking to lose weight, you should not consume more than 8 teaspoons of coconut sugar in a day.
- Coconut sugar has the same amount of sweetness as regular sugar and can replace it with a 1:1 ratio. However, when it comes to consistency, it is a lot like brown sugar. Therefore, while cooking, it will take extra time to combine with other ingredients and to melt into a liquid.
- The best way to use coconut sugar is to make it a part of your morning coffee or tea, or even your oatmeal. It also works well in cookies, cakes, and bread, thanks to its rich taste and natural sweetness.
Our analysis clearly shows that though coconut sugar is no superfood, it is a much healthier alternative to regular white sugar. However, since it contains the same amount of carbs and calories, make sure you don’t overuse it. In case you are looking for natural sweeteners for your occasionally baking sprees, then coconut sugar should be your go-to option. Besides, like with all other sugars, make sure you remember to enjoy it in moderation. What is your favorite coconut sugar brand, and how do you use it to make your cooking more healthy and nutritious?