The first time I tasted raw coconut palm sugar, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s brown, and it tasted a lot like brown sugar, but with a slightly caramelized flavor. Since then, I’ve found numerous ways to use it because it’s so delicious. It has a wonderful slightly crunchy texture, so it’s great on desserts that you might ordinarily put a crunchy topping on, yet it melts into liquids like regular brown sugar does. It’s sweet, although not cloyingly sweet like commercially processed brown sugar. You can eat a spoonful of it without spiking your blood sugar, too, because it’s a low-glycemic sweetener.
In addition to the flavor, coconut palm sugar—also referred to as “coconut sugar,” “palm sugar,” “coco palm sugar” or “coco sugar”—offers a variety of health benefits. The low-glycemic nature of coconut palm sugar allows you to eat it without the blood sugar crashes you get from processed sugar; those crashes make you hungry and cause you to gain weight, but coconut sugar keeps your blood sugar steadier so you avoid that side effect. Moreover, since high blood sugar has been linked with a number of diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, using coconut palm sugar instead of processed sugar can reduce reduce the risks of developing those diseases.
The Philippine food and Nutrition Research Institute reports that coconut sugar also contains “significantly more potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, nitrogen and sodium than brown or white sugar,” according to the Livestrong web site. The potassium and nitrogen are cardiovascular disease preventatives, the magnesium and sodium promote good nerve function, and zinc improves brain function. Iron is needed for healthy blood and immunity, and phosphorus promotes healthy kidney function and cell health.
I use coconut palm sugar for a variety of things. It’s great on raw and cooked foods alike, and you can also bake with it in place of brown sugar. When you do that, you may want to increase the quantity a bit over what the recipe states. One of my favorite quick recipes using this sugar is banana yogurt pudding. The coconut palm sugar takes the place of the crumbled vanilla wafers as well as the brown sugar, and I love the way it enhances the flavor. Here’s a recipe for raw Nutella that uses coconut palm sugar or other raw low-glycemic sweeteners. Try it on or in any raw dessert, raw protein bar, or sprinkled on fruit. You can sprinkle some in your smoothies for a little added sweetness. You can also use it on cooked acorn squash, sprinkled on cereal or muffins, or in other baking.
It’s not often that a safe and nutritious sweetener becomes available. Sugar substitutes are dangerous, and most other natural sugars—except for stevia—are still high glycemic. Coconut palm sugar is one of the few low-glycemic natural sweeteners that is not only good for you but tastes great. You can find it at your local health food store; Nutra Foods in Huber Heights carries it. Some groceries are starting to carry it in the health food aisle too. If you like brown sugar and have never tried coconut palm sugar, you’re in for a treat. It is now a staple in my kitchen.