How Is Coconut Sugar Obtained?
Coconut palm sugar is obtained from the nectar of the flower buds of coconut. The buds are first cut open, then the sap of the bud is captured and boiled. After boiling, a caramel-colored sugary consistency is obtained, which has a lot of similarities with brown sugar. Similarly, "palm sugar" is a kind of sugar obtained from varied types of palm trees rather than the coconut palm.
Coconut sugar contains the soluble fiber content of inulin which is the main reason it would be linked to a lower risk of blood sugar spikes; however, the facts may not be true just because of the presence of inulin. Nearly one teaspoon of coconut sugar contains the following nutritional value -
Why Is Coconut Sugar Not a Good Alternative for Diabetics?
According to The American Diabetes Association (ADA), diabetics and people predisposed to diabetes can use coconut palm sugar the same way as they use regular sugar and, as such, yields no extra nutrient benefit. Coconut sugar during manufacturing could be mixed with cane sugar and other similar ingredients. Also, the mineral benefits obtained from coconut sugar have been popularized in recent decades, with researchers claiming the maximum mineral content of potassium within coconut sugar.
According to the data released by the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute, the potassium amounts in half a cup of obtained coconut sugar are on the higher side, approximately 1000 milligrams.
From an economic point of view, coconut sugar is very expensive compared to other sugars in the market. Although many researchers claim that coconut sugar would be suitable for people with diabetes because of its low glycemic index (compared to other sugars), it may not be true, according to nutritionists. This is because to avail of the nutritional benefits alongside the mineral content of coconut sugar, large amounts of coconut sugar would have to be consumed, which is a definite no from a nutrition perspective. Also, consuming large quantities of sugar of any type is not recommended daily, despite the lower glycemic index. It is a known fact, according to diabetic research and evidence, that any form of added sugar should always be consumed as less as possible or limited to an extent regardless of the sugar source. Hence, nutritionists verified that coconut sugar would not be a better alternative as it holds the same position as the other conventional sugars used in daily diets.
Why Is Sugar Consumption Bad?
Irrespective of the sugar source, all forms of sugar tend to be concentrated form of sugar only, obtained mainly by natural plant sources that yield these sugars. They would be obtained, for example, from sugar cane, sugar beets, maple trees, honey or nectar, the plant agave, and even rice, to name a few. All these plant-based sugars have one commonality; nutritionally, they yield around 20 calories or 5 grams of sugar or carbohydrate per every single teaspoon consumed. Research on coconut sugar also shows the same statistics appropriately, indicating clearly that sugar in any form, including coconut sugar, is definitely not an ideal exception. Just like the other sugars, overconsumption causes sugar spikes and is unhealthy when consumed in large quantities daily. However, consuming coconut sugar, even in moderation or with less content, makes little or no difference to an individual's general systemic health because of the less nutritious and more risky effects that follow any sugar consumption.
One more important health fact to be noted when considering the glycemic index (GI) of sugars is that the GI can be varied from one batch to another batch of coconut sugar. Most reports of GI of coconut sugar indicate 54 to 55 as a common value which shows that it is lower than it is claimed to be and rather on the medium scale. Researchers, however, agree on the generalized fact that coconut sugar as a natural source, along with honey or agave sugars, would be slightly better in comparison to other conventional sugars or table sugar that causes blood sugar spikes.
What Are the Healthier Substitutes?
The reasonable and better substitute for table sugar would be replacing it with natural applesauce, bananas, or fruit juice splashes while preparing sweet dishes. Other natural sweeteners, such as the extract of vanilla that is now very popular in the culinary world, or even natural spices like cinnamon, cocoa powder, or almond extracts, make up for a sweeter taste.
Coconut sugar contains negligible or small amounts of minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. It is still very high in calories, making it an average and non-nutritious substitute for natural table sugar. Significant quantities of coconut sugar would have to be consumed, making it a high-calorie count diet and disrupting the minimal nutritional benefits. Hence, nutritionists always treat coconut sugar like regular table sugar and recommend limiting any sugar source for that matter daily.