People are in the look out for healthy alternatives for white sugar, as the awareness on the harmful effects of sugar and high fructose corn syrup become increasingly more prominent. One among the alternatives that has become more popular I recent years is coconut sugar. Coconut sugar is a traditional sweetener used in the south and South-East Asian regions where there are abundance of coconut trees. The world’s largest producers of coconuts are the Philippines and Indonesia.
Coconut sugar is made from the sap, which is the sugary liquid present in the flower buds of the coconut palm. Coconut sugar is also called as coconut palm sugar / coco sap sugar / coco sugar. It is often muddled with Palm Sugar, which is obtained from the sap in the stems of Palmyra palm tree and not from coconut tree. Both have different in taste and texture.
How is it manufactured?
1. The liquid sap is collected into containers by making a cut on the flower of the coconut palm.
2. The sap is subjected to heat until most of the water evaporates.
3. Now the coconut sugar is ready. It is brown in colour and is in granular form.
What’s the nutritional importance of Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar provides the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as that of regular table sugar. Along with the calories and carbohydrates, coconut sugar also provides some short chain fatty acids, minerals like Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, polyphenols, and antioxidants. It also contains a fiber known as inulin, which helps the sugar to be slowly absorbed into the blood stream. Hence this sugar is comparably better than the regular sugar.
Can it be used by diabetics?
Glycemic Index comes into picture when talking about diabetics. Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. Glucose has the GI score of 100. Regular sugar has the GI score of 60 (any score above 60 is considered to be high in GI), due to the presence of fructose. Coconut sugar also has fructose, but due to the presence of fiber Inulin its GI 35. According to varies studies, the GI of coconut sugar varies between 34 and 54 depending upon the method of preparation and the food in which it is combined with. Hence diabetics can use it occasionally only. Regular usage will cause increase in the blood sugar levels.
Coconut sugar is healthier than regular sugar. It is a natural sugar. It can be used as a sugar alternative for individuals without diabetes. Always use the sugar in moderation, as excess usage of coconut sugar also causes weight gain, obesity, diabetes, and cardiac issues.
Uma Maheshwari PS
Dietitian, Happy Living Diet Clinic
+91 99000 46344