by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
There are many people who are looking to cut sugar from their nutrition or find a sugar substitute that they enjoy without any type of weird aftertaste. In their search, they may have stumbled upon coconut sugar and wondered what exactly it was.
Coconut sugar has become quite popular lately and is considered an alternative to sugar and taking its place in recipes for healthy baked foods.
This specific type of sugar comes from the coconut palm tree and is touted as being healthier and more nutritious. It also has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar. Additionally, it is often marketed as a sustainable alternative to other sweeteners. Although coconut sugar has some potential health benefits, it is still classified as an “added sugar” and should be consumed in moderation.
In this article, we will dive deeper into the scientific evidence behind the health benefits of coconut sugar and provide you with enough information to help you determine if it should be a suitable addition to your diet.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before changing your nutrition or workout program.
What is Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar, is a natural sweetener that comes from the sap of coconut palm trees. It is important to note that coconut sugar is often mistaken for palm sugar, which is made from various types of palm trees.
To make coconut sugar, the flower of the coconut palm is cut, and the sap is collected in containers. This liquid sap is then heated until most of the water has evaporated, resulting in a brown and granulated product. Its color is similar to raw cane sugar, but the particle size is generally smaller.
Unlike refined sugar, which is heavily processed and stripped of all nutrients, coconut sugar is minimally processed and retains some of the nutrients found in the coconut plant.
Coconut Sugar Nutrition Facts
The nutrition and calories in 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar have the following nutritional values:
- Calories: 45
- Fat: 0g
- Carbs: 12g
- Sugar: 12g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 0g
What’s the Difference Between Coconut Sugar and Table Sugar?
When compared to table sugar, coconut sugar has more vitamins and minerals. It has small amounts of vitamin C and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, copper, and zinc.
According to a 2017 report in the British Dental Journal, coconut sugar also contains antioxidants and the fiber insulin. However, it should be noted that you need to consume a considerable amount of coconut sugar to reap these benefits.
Sugar is a carb that our body uses for energy, and both coconut and table sugar are made up of sucrose, followed by glucose and fructose.
The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 100 calories to 150 calories from added sugar, that is, around 25-36 grams of sugar, including the use of coconut sugar.
3 Reasons Why You Should Consider Switching to Coconut Sugar
If you are curious about coconut sugar and want to learn more about its benefits, here are some reasons why you should consider making the switch.
1. Coconut sugar may have a lower glycemic index
The glycemic index (GI) is a measurement of how fast foods raise blood sugar levels. Glucose has a GI of 100, while foods with a GI of 50 raise blood sugar levels only half as much as glucose does. Table sugar has a GI of around 60, while coconut sugar has a GI of 54. However, GI can vary significantly between individuals and even between batches of coconut sugar. This variability may depend on several factors, including the nutritional content of other foods it’s combined with, the size and timing of meals, and other individual factors.
2. It contains beneficial inulin
Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener that contains a beneficial type of soluble fiber known as inulin. This fiber helps to promote digestive health by supporting a healthy balance of gut bacteria and preventing colon cancer. It can also improve digestion and metabolism. One of the most significant benefits of consuming coconut sugar is that it can help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, thanks to the presence of inulin, which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar.
3. A great option for vegans
Coconut sugar is an unrefined sweetener and a great choice for those following a vegan lifestyle. Unlike regular sugar, which is often refined using bone char, coconut sugar is a 100% vegetarian-friendly option. This makes it a healthier alternative to refined sugar and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.