Foods that are consumed in large amounts (especially those containing sugar) can lead to many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. Many people are now switching to organic foods and some are changing their entire diet. Some people are trying to eat more vegetables, fish or chicken and lessen their red meat consumption. Some are converting to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Some are dumping regular white sugar and are using artificial sweeteners. Some are switching to coconut sugar.
You might be wondering, “what is coconut sugar?”, “is coconut sugar a healthier alternative to regular white sugar?” or “what are the benefits of switching sugar?” We’ll answer these questions in this post.
With the amount of unhealthy fast foods in our modern lives, eating something natural and satisfying is not a bad idea! Let’s get the lowdown on coconut sugar to help you decide if you want to make the switch or not.
Coconut Sugar Defined
Coconut sugar is not made from the flesh of a coconut or coconut water as you may think. It’s actually made from the flower bud sap of the coconut palm. The nectar from the blossom is collected into bamboo containers before processing. South East Asia has used coconut sugar as its traditional sweetener for thousands of years because the coconut tree and coconut palm are abundant in these regions. The Philippines and Indonesia are the two largest producers of coconuts in the world.
The process of making coconut sugar starts with the tapping of the sap from the blossoms of the coconut tree. Then the farmers make a cut to the spadix. The sap is then collected in bamboo containers.
Coconut palm nectar is about 80% water. To produce the sugar, the nectar is transferred to large woks over a moderate fire to evaporate the liquid content of the sap. As the sap water evaporates it will leave a brown, sticky and syrupy substance called the toddy. Toddy is similar to caramel in appearancce. The syrupy toddy is further reduced into sugar crystals, which are then made into a soft paste form or a block.
Taste, Texture And Flavor
Coconut sugar looks like brown sugar with a finer texture. The taste is subtly sweet, just like brown sugar with little hint of caramel and butterscotch. Coconut sugar is not highly processed like regular table sugar, thus the taste, sweetness and colour will depend on the harvest season, the coconut type and how the sap was harvested.
In terms of chemical composition, coconut sugar is about 70% similar to table sugar and is a type of sucrose, composed of 2 monosaccharides; fructose and glucose.
Coconut Sugar’s Glycemic Index
Glycemic Index (GI) is the standard measurement of how quickly blood sugar levels go up after a person drinks or eats a specific food over a 2-3 hour period. According to experts, it is essential to select types of sugars or sweeteners which are released slowly into the bloodstream with a 55 or lower GI. Coconut sugar has a 35 GI while regular table sugar has 58-65 GI and high fructose corn syrup has 87-100 glycemic index.
9 Reason Why Coconut Sugar Is The Best Alternative
Coconut sugar has many benefits to provide. Here are 9 of the best reasons why you should switch to coconut sugar today:
1. Contains Electrolytes
It’s known that coconut water is a natural cure for dehydration because it contains natural electrolytes. Coconut sugar has the same benefit because it contains potassium, sodium and magnesium which are all important in regulating water in the human body. Coconut sugar contains 400 times more potassium as compared to regular table sugar.
2. Contains Essential Minerals
Coconut sugar contains important minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron which contribute to stronger bones and the immune system.
3. Good For Diabetics
Since coconut sugar has a lower GI, it is a better alternative for those who have diabetes or overweight people. Coconut sugar also contains the natural sweetener called inositol which helps in maintaining normal nerve functions and helps in relieving diabetic neuropathy.
4. Contains Vitamin C
Coconut sugar does not only taste good, it’s also rich in vitamin C which we all know is great for the immune system. Vitamin C also helps in maintaining the health of the skin and joints.
Check out this video of coconut sugar being made:
5. Contains Antioxidants
Coconut sugar is not a highly processed kind of sugar, thus it retains all the rich antioxidants found in its raw form. Antioxidants help in cell health and regeneration. It also prevents cell oxidation, which causes premature aging.
6. Contains Nitrogen
The nitrogen contained in coconut sugar will help keep your heart and cardiovascular system in good health.
7. Contains Fatty Acids
Coconut water contains omega-3 fatty acids which help in lowering cholesterol and lowering the chances of developing heart disease, cancer and depression.
8. No Bone Char Included
There’s a few instances where charred animal bones are used in the making of white sugar. Coconut sugar is not highly processed, it simply reduced to sugar crystals or a syrupy form by directly heating the palm nectar. No additional processes or ingredients are added.
9. Contains Inulin
Inulin is a dietary fiber which helps in maintaining the health of your gut, balancing blood sugar levels in your body and lowering the chances of developing colon cancer.
You’ll get used to the taste and texture of coconut sugar when you make the transition from regular white sugar. It’s delicious and so much healthier!