Is It Healthy? Coconut Sugar

by in Is It Healthy?, January 2, 2012


The health claims surrounding coconut products are controversial in the nutrition world. Is the newest craze a healthy choice? Here are the sweet facts on coconut sugar.

Yes?
Coconut sugar is made from buds or palms of coconut trees, which is why you may also see it sold as “palm sugar.” It should be noted that there are various types of palm sugar, so check labels for one derived from a coconut tree. While it has only recently been gaining popularity in the U.S., coconut sugar is readily used in many South East Asian countries.

Similar to sweeteners like brown rice syrup, maple syrup and honey, coconut sugar tends to be less refined than good old white sugar. It also contains minerals like magnesium, potassium zinc and iron.

Coconut sugar also has a lower glycemic index than the uber-refined white stuff, which means that it can cause a less dramatic spike in blood sugar.

It has a pleasant, molasses like flavor (similar to brown sugar) and can be heated for use in cooking and baking.

No?
Coconut sugar shouldn’t be considered a low-calorie sweetener. In fact, it has just as many calories per teaspoon as regular sugar. As for the glycemic index, it may be lower, but it’s important to keep in mind that the glycemic index only classifies the blood sugar response of foods by themselves. Since you’ll most likely munch on coconut sugar along with other ingredients, its effect on blood sugar will vary.

Coconut sugar also comes at 3 times the price. Sugar averages 7-cents per ounce, while the coconut variety rings up at 22-cents per ounce.

The Verdict?
There’s no harm in adding coconut sugar to your repertoire of less refined sweeteners, but it should be consumed in moderation . .  . just like all the others.

Tell Us: Have you tried coconut sugar?

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