Food

Is coconut sugar a healthy sugar?

Coconut with coconut palm sugar

Coconut sugar is otherwise known as coconut palm sugar. It’s made from boiling down and crystallising the extracted sap of the coconut palm. The end product is similar in appearance and texture to brown sugar.

It has a rich caramel taste that goes well with cocoa and these days is the sweetener of choice for raw chocolate.

Nutritionally it has the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as normal cane sugar.  Normal sugar is often called empty calories as it contains no nutrients. Unlike normal sugar it does contain some nutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants. However these are in small amounts and you would have to eat a lot of coconut sugar to gain a decent amount of any of these.

It has been touted as being a healthy sugar due to one study calling it low GI. GI is a measure of how quickly a food affects your blood sugar and eating high GI foods that spike your blood sugar are detrimental to health. However subsequent studies have stated that it has a medium / high GI of 54. This could be due to the limited number of people for the study and because different people react differently. So GI wise it isn’t really much different from normal sugar. It also contains pretty much the same amount of fructose as normal sugar gram for gram. Some claim it is virtually fructose free but this is not true as coconut sugar is 80-90% sucrose and half of sucrose is fructose. Some scientists believe that excess fructose consumption may contribute towards obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease.

Bottom line, it does have some benefits but is still a refined sugar and not a miracle food. It earns its place as a healthy food for nestandglow as it has a place in recipes and we use it in treats, but should be used sparingly. Like just about every other sugar substitute it isn’t a food you can gorge on. If I had to put a figure on it I would say coconut sugar is 90% the same as normal sugar. Enjoy in small amounts and use sparingly.

About the author

Eloise

I'm a former GP that left medicine to become a nutritionist and yoga teacher. I enjoy helping clients change their life through diet and exercise. I'm interested in the prevention of illness using natural methods.

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