What is coconut sugar? The dehydrated and boiled sap of the coconut palm, coconut sugar has caught the attention of health enthusiasts due to its low fructose content and low glycemic index. Coconut sugar has an edge over other sweeteners because it is not refined or chemically altered. Although it looks and tastes much like clumped brown sugar, coconut sugar has a slight hint of caramel. It is used as a natural sweetener in baking as well as in cooking. But the big question is: Is coconut sugar a healthier choice in comparison to refined sugar? Nutritionist Lovneet Batra has answered it in a recent Instagram post. She explained, “Coconut sugar is a healthier, sweetener option than most other sugars that are commercially available. While coconut sugar has some nutritional advantages, it is not a one-size-fits-all ‘healthier’ option.”
Also Read: 5 Types of Sugar That Are Better Alternatives to Refined Sugar
Coconut Sugar vs. Refined Sugar – Check Out The Comparison Here:
Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener derived from the sap of coconut palm tree flowers. It undergoes a process involving collection, boiling to remove water, and subsequent cooling and drying for crystallisation. On the other hand, regular sugar, also known as table sugar or sucrose, is obtained by extracting juice from sugarcane or sugar beets, followed by purification, concentration through evaporation, and crystallisation to produce the end sugar product.
2. Glycemic Index
According to Lovneet Batra, coconut sugar boasts a lower Glycemic Index (GI) falling within the 35-54 range per serving, which aligns with low GI diets. A low GI diet is said to reduce several chronic conditions such as type II diabetes. In contrast, table sugar holds a GI of approximately 60. When evaluated among different sugar types, coconut sugar emerges with a “nutritional advantage.”
Also Read: 10 Everyday Foods With A Low Glycemic Index
3. Impact On Blood Sugar Level
Coconut sugar, in a single serving, includes a small quantity of inulin, while consuming regular sugar contributes to an elevated risk of diabetes through both direct and indirect pathways. Its impact on the liver, particularly the effects of fructose, can lead to complications such as fatty liver, inflammation, and localised insulin resistance.
Inulin is a soluble fibre that aids in minimising sudden rises in blood sugar levels after meals. Inulin is also vital for producing short-chain fatty acids like acetate, butyrate, and propionate.
4. Nutritional Value
Coconut sugar is rich in nutrients. It is rich in vitamins C and E, essential minerals like zinc, iron, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as health-enhancing phytonutrients such as antioxidants, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, and polyphenols. On the contrary, ordinary table sugar and high fructose corn syrup offer calories without any nutritional value.
“Though coconut sugar contains slightly more nutrients than cane sugar, it has some potential adverse effects as other added sugars if consumed in excess,” the nutritionist concluded.
Also Read: What is Palm Sugar? Is it Really Good for You?