As the harmful effects of sugar and high fructose corn syrup become increasingly more evident, people are turning to natural alternatives.
Coconut sugar has become very popular in the past few years. It has a subtly sweet taste almost like brown sugar but with a slight hint of caramel. It has been used as a traditional sweetener for thousands of years in the South and South East Asian regions where the coconut palm is in abundant supply.
Regular table sugar and high fructose corn syrup don’t contain any vital nutrients, but coconut sugar does retain nutrients that are found in the coconut palm tree sap. According to the Philippine Department of Agriculture, the coconut sap, from which coconut sugar is derived, contains 16 amino acids. Coconut sugar also contains minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits.
Coconut sugar is popular among people with diabetes. It can be used as a sugar substitute and is considered safe to use for diabetics. The Glycemic Index of coconut sugar is 35 and is classified as a low glycemic index food.
Coconut palm trees are sustainable too. The coconut palm tree produces 50% to 75% more sugar per acre than cane sugar, while only using 20% of the resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the World Bank reports that coconut palm sweeteners are the single most sustainable sweetener in the world! The reason is because coconut palms are a tree crop which benefits the environment ecologically as they restore damaged soil, requiring very little water in the process.
Coconut sugar has been recommended by Dr. Oz . As Dr. Oz points out, coconut sugar doesn't put stress on your blood sugar levels the same way that white sugar does, and it is unrefined. You will be pleased to know that coconut sugar can be used as a one to one replacement for both white and brown sugar.
The process to make coconut sugar is quite simple. The nectar from a coconut flower is collected and then boiled down and granulated, and no chemicals are needed. It is made using low temperature processing that involves evaporation of the sap from the coconut blossoms into crystals. Evaporation temperature is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or two. As a result of this low temperature, enzymes remain intact. Tapping a coconut tree for its sap is a centuries old tradition that does not harm the tree or impact the tree’s ability to produce coconuts.
You can find coconut sugar in your favorite health food store, and some of the large chain grocery stores. Check the labels to make sure you are getting 100% coconut sugar and not a mixture with regular sugar. Some companies have coconut sugar blends which would not contain all of the benefits of the pure coconut sugar.