Sugar is known to have negative health effects. Therefore, many people are looking for healthier alternatives to sweeten dishes and foods. Coconut sugar in particular is often touted as a replacement for normal cane sugar. This raises the question of whether coconut sugar is really healthier than regular sugar.
Coconut sugar or coconut blossom sugar is a natural, brownish, plant-based sugar with a caramel-like taste. To produce the sugar, the sap of the coconut palm is boiled down until most of the water has evaporated, explains nutritionist Beth Czerwony from the Cleveland Clinic (USA) in a recent press release.
Coconut sugar healthier than regular cane sugar?
Coconut sugar has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among people looking for healthier alternatives to traditional sugar. But is coconut sugar really healthy and what benefits can its consumption bring?
Lower glycemic index
A recent study from this year reported that coconut sugar is actually a healthier sweetening option than most other commercially available sugars. According to the researchers, the sugar has a high nutritional value and at the same time a lower glycemic index, which could protect against diabetes, for example.
Coconut sugar also contains vitamins C and E and minerals such as zinc, iron, potassium and phosphorus. The sugar also contains phytonutrients such as antioxidants, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, polyphenols and a significant amount of inulin. Therefore, it is nutritionally superior to other sugars.
Czerwony also confirms that coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index. The glycemic index indicates which foods cause blood sugar to rise the fastest, with 100 meaning pure glucose and zero meaning that a food contains no sugar at all.
“Table sugar has a glycemic index of 60, while coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 54, meaning it doesn’t raise blood sugar as quickly. This is because coconut sugar contains a little inulin, which provides some fiber,” says the nutritionist.
Beneficial for diabetes
Coconut sugar’s lower glycemic index could therefore actually make it a more attractive choice than table sugar, especially for people with diabetes, according to Czerwony. The inulin it contains is also known to stabilize blood sugar levels, among other things, which contributes to a longer feeling of satiety.
Unlike coconut sugar, regular sugar does not contain any nutrients. According to the expert, coconut sugar, on the other hand, contains at least some of the nutrients that were originally contained in the coconut. Czerwony cites calcium, iron, potassium and zinc as examples.
Coconut sugar isn’t really healthy either
According to the nutritionist, however, the amounts contained are so small that coconut sugar can by no means be described as healthy, as large amounts of sugar would have to be consumed in order to experience any benefit.
In such a case, the calories consumed through the sugar would cancel out the beneficial effects of the ingredients.
Can be used in the same way as regular sugar
One advantage of coconut sugar is that, unlike sugar substitutes and sugar alternatives, it can be used in the same way as regular sugar. For example, it is suitable for baking at high temperatures and can be used in the same proportion as normal sugar.
Calorie content similar to regular cane sugar
As far as the calorie content of coconut sugar is concerned, it has approximately the same amount of calories as regular cane sugar. Therefore, in Czerwony’s opinion, coconut sugar is not actually healthier or unhealthier than raw sugar.
When dealing with sugar, it is best for your health not to replace it with coconut sugar, but rather to limit sugar consumption as completely as possible. If you want to reduce your sugar consumption without completely giving up sweet foods, you can also try the sweetness of monk fruit as an alternative. (as)