The very fact that the regular table sugar is associated with many health hazards prompts more and more people to look for natural sugar substitutes. What is coconut sugar? Coconut sugar, obtained from the coconut palm tree is one such natural sweetener that has become popular over the recent years. Also known as the coconut palm sugar, this sugar substitute is made from the sap of the coconut tree. After collecting the sap from the tree, it is subjected to heat until all the liquid part evaporates. What is left behind is the coconut sugar, which is found to have a low glycemic index of 35. As opposed to regular sugar, which is high in fructose with empty calories, coconut sugar is rich in various nutrients.
Is coconut sugar paleo? It is naturally occurring sweetner obtained from sap of coconut plant. It is made from simple 2 step process – collecting coconut sap by cutting flower of coconut palm and evaporating the sap so that water evaporates leaving behind coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar nutrition
Is coconut sugar good for you? Although coconut sugar glycemic index is low, it has almost the same calorific value as that of regular table sugar. One teaspoon of coconut sugar provides you with about 15 calories. What makes it different and healthier that table sugar is that it contains minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, sulfur and small amounts of boron, copper, iron, manganese, and zinc. Coconut sugar is also rich in vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin B8 (inositol), thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, biotin, pyridoxal, paraaminobezoic acid, pantothenic acid, nicotinic acid, choline, vitamin B12. It also contains about 16 amino acids that are essentials for the various functions of the human body. The presence of all these nutrients along with its low glycemic index makes coconut sugar a healthy sweetening agent.
Health benefits of coconut sugar
Coconut sugar benefits can be attributed to its natural sugar coupled with various minerals and nutrients. Coconut sugar has been used as a traditional sweetener for several centuries in places such as South and Southeast Asia, where coconut trees grow in plenty. Unlike the processed and refined white sugar, coconut sugar is processed minimally and does not contain any harsh chemicals. Given below are some of the reasons that make coconut sugar so widely preferred:
Read more about benefits of coconut oil
Coconut sugar supports gut health
Coconut sugar contains high levels of a type of dietary fiber known as inulin. This fiber, which is not digested in your upper gastrointestinal tract acts as a prebiotic. According to clinical research prebiotics like inulin are extremely beneficial in supporting the health of your digestive system and also in reducing your risk of developing colon cancer.
Benefit of Coconut sugar for diabetes
It is highly important for people with diabetes to eat foods with low glycemic index in order to prevent glucose spikes. One of the biggest attractions of coconut sugar as a natural sugar substitute is that it has a low glycemic index. Coconut palm sugar glycemic index score is 35, which means that it has little impact on the blood sugar levels. It doesn’t cause dangerous blood sugar spikes because it gets absorbed much slower into the bloodstream than regular table sugar. This property makes coconut sugar ideal for not only diabetics, but also pre-diabetics and pretty much anybody else who wants to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels.
Coconut sugar contains electrolytes
Coconut sugar is rich in electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and sodium. It is found to have more than 400 times the amount of potassium when compared to regular sugar. The electrolytes in this natural sweetener help in regulating the water content of the body as well as many other functions of the body such as heart, muscle, and nerve functions. Moreover, the potassium in coconut sugar helps in maintaining normal blood pressure levels.
Anti-cancer benefits of coconut sugar
As mentioned earlier, coconut sugar is rich in several amino acids, including glutamine that has been found to have potent anti-cancer properties. A study published in the American Journal of Surgery suggests that glutamine may help in reducing the growth of tumors by stimulating the immune system. Glutamine helps in increasing the selectivity of tumor therapy, when given along with chemotherapy and radiation.
Coconut sugar promotes bone health
Coconut sugar contains high amounts of minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and magnesium, all of which improve the strength and health of the bones.
Coconut sugar health benefits for heart
High cholesterol and high blood pressure are two major factors that increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease. Coconut sugar is popular for its low glycemic index and according to a study conducted by the University of Sydney in Australia, a diet that includes foods with low glycemic index helps in lowering the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol. The high levels of potassium in coconut sugar helps in lowering high pressure while nitrogen supports the cardiovascular system and helps in maintaining a healthy heart.
Coconut sugar helps you lose weight
According to a study from the University of Sydney, a low glycemic index diet is also beneficial in helping to achieving significant weight loss. The study suggested that moderate decrease in glycemic load was found to cause an increase in the rate of fat loss by the body, especially in women. Coconut sugar also contains inulin, a type of fiber that slows down the absorption of glucose, which means that it can provide you energy for longer periods of time without the need to eat frequently, thereby helping you to avoid overeating.
Coconut sugar provides antioxidant benefits
Research studies have found that coconut sugar contains phytonutrients such as flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanidin, all of which have strong antioxidant properties. They help in fighting off the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to the cells and hence help in slowing down the process of aging as well as in lowering the risk of many serious diseases such as cancer and heart diseases.
Coconut sugar is a good source of vitamin C
Coconut sugar contains good amounts of vitamin C that helps in enhancing your immune system. It also promotes good skin health and strengthens your muscles and joints.
Read about amazing benefits of coconut water
Coconut sugar for skin
Coconut sugar scrub is good, natural exfoliating scrub for your skin. It can be made by mixing and whipping coconut sugar and coconut oil in 2:1 proportion. You can add some aromatic essential oil or lemon juice to add some fragrance. It works as good scrub for hands and feet. It shall give your skin nice smooth feel.
Coconut palm sugar recipes
Troubled with how to use coconut sugar? Just see it as substitute of common sugar. Baking with coconut sugar shows endless list of recipes you can try. Most simple and easy recipes using coconut palm sugar is Coconut sugar cookies. You would find a number of them on the internet. It is as good as any other cookie recipe, just that you substitute sugar with coconut sugar. When recipe calls for liquid sweetener, you can use coconut sugar syrup as substitute for raw honey or maple syrup.
Where to buy coconut sugar? Online stores generally stock organic coconut sugar or organic coconut palm sugar. It is also sold as coconut sugar crystals or powdered coconut sugar.
Now you know how healthy is coconut sugar! As you can see, coconut palm sugar benefits are plenty, making it a popular sweetening agent. In addition to offering many nutrients, it also has less impact on your blood sugar levels when compared to the other types of sweeteners. Not only is it delicious, but is also a very healthy and versatile option. Artificial sweeteners have been proven to be toxic to health and can also increase your risk of many deadly health problems like heart disease, cancer and other diseases. So it’s always best to switch to healthy natural alternatives that do not have a negative impact on your health.
Only problem with coconut sugar is that it is not sustainable. When flower is cut for its sap, it cant bear any fruits. Thus demand for coconut sugar can disturb the economics of other coconut products. Many people still use honey as coconut sugar substitute.