One might think that coconut sugar is produced from coconuts, but its not. Coconut sugar is a product of the coconut tree, or more specifically the sap obtained from coconut tree’s flower buds. It is sometimes called coco sap sugar or coconut palm sugar. The blossoms are cut and the nectar is collected into bamboo containers. As a sweetener, especially for diabetics, how safe is coconut sugar? Lets take a look!
Why Coconut Palm Sugar:
As diabetics we all know the importance of eating low glycemic items to help prevent glucose spikes. Coconut palm sugar is a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic crystalline sweetener that looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar, but it’s completely natural and unrefined. It’s acquired from the flowers growing high on coconut trees, which are opened to collect their liquid flower nectar. This nectar is then air-dried to form a crystalline sugar that’s naturally brown in color and naturally rich in a number of key vitamins including over 16 amino acids, minerals and phytonutrients including potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6.
It is never refined or bleached like white sugar. So the nutrients it was made with are still there. That’s rare for sweeteners, most of which are highly refined.
Coconut Palm Sugar And Diabetes:
Per the American Diabetes Association, “Manufacturers of coconut palm sugar boast its low glycemic index, claiming it is a better choice for people with diabetes than regular sugar. Glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how a food raises blood glucose (or blood sugar) compared to a reference food (usually glucose or white bread). In the United States, we do not do official GI testing. So, GI numbers for the same food can differ depending on your source.
GI can also vary from person to person. It will change depending on how a food is cooked, and what the food is eaten with. In the case of coconut palm sugar, it is likely to be mixed or prepared with other ingredients that contain carbohydrates.
It is okay for people with diabetes to use coconut palm sugar as a sweetener, but they should not treat it any differently than regular sugar. It provides just as many calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar: about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon. So, you still need to account for it when planning meals.
Also, note that some coconut palm sugar on the market may be mixed with cane sugar and other ingredients. It is important to check nutrition labels and read the ingredient list on these products.”
Dangers Of Coconut Palm Sugar:
Now, for the “not so good info”. One of the misconceptions when it comes to regular sugar being unhealthy for you isn’t because it is empty calories or has a high GI, the main reason sugar is so unhealthy, is because it is loaded with fructose. You see, regular table sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose, 50% glucose.
Even though there are claims all over the internet mentioning that coconut sugar is effectively fructose free, it is made of 70%-80% sucrose, which is half fructose! For this reason, coconut sugar supplies has almost the same amount of fructose as regular sugar, gram for gram. As we all know , added sugars, consumed in excess, will cause all sorts of problems like metabolic syndrome, obesity, and other cardiovascular diseases.
When it comes to having coconut palm sugar, you will find this particular sugar is not as sickly sweet as refined white sugars (so if using them for cakes or other desserts, you may need to add more to achieve the same level of sweetness). I believe they have a nice caramel like taste which is similar to natural molasses, only a little lighter. Personally, I think you’ll love the taste!
Is Coconut Palm Sugar Really Low GI?
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels.
Glucose is given a GI of 100 and if a food has a GI of 50, then it raises blood sugar half as much as pure glucose.
The Phillipine Department of Agriculture measured the glycemic index of coconut sugar and compared it to glucose. Granted this is only one study so keep that in mind, but according to them, coconut sugar is given a GI of 35, which puts it in the low range. This is much lower than table sugar, which is closer to 60.
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