Is Coconut Sugar Better Than Sugar?

Reviewed on 10/12/2021
coconut sugar
Despite popular belief, coconut sugar is nearly identical to regular cane sugar in regards to nutrients and calories.

Coconut sugar is a popular sweetener in many vegan diets because it is plant-based and minimally processed. People feel it is more nutritious than regular table sugar. In reality, coconut sugar is almost identical to regular cane sugar in terms of nutrients and calories and is not a very healthy option to consume.

Coconut sugar, also commonly known as coconut palm sugar, is made from the sap of the coconut palm tree and not directly from coconuts. It is often confused with palm sugar, but palm sugar is made from the sap of a different palm tree.

The basic process of making coconut sugar involves cutting the coconut tree’s flower and collecting the nectar or sap. The sap thus collected is then dried and crystallized to obtain sugar-like granules, giving it a rich caramel color.

What are the differences between coconut sugar and refined sugar?

The differences between one tablespoon of coconut sugar and refined sugar are compared below:

Table. The nutrients of coconut sugar vs. refined sugar (1 tablespoon)
(1 tablespoon) Coconut Sugar Refined Sugar
Calories 45 kCal 48 kCal
Carbohydrates 12 g 12.6 g
Sugar 12 g 12.6 g
Fiber 0 g 0 g
Fat 0 g 0 g
Protein 0 g 0 g

Additionally, coconut sugar has a low Glycemic Index count, ranking 35 on the index as opposed to regular table sugar that ranks between 60 to 65. Also, coconut sugar contains less fructose than more refined sugar.

The only difference is that coconut sugar contains trace amounts of useful nutrients, such as iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium. Moreover, coconut sugar contains the soluble fiber inulin that is linked to a low risk of blood sugar spikes because it gets slowly absorbed into the blood system instead of causing a sudden spike like that of cane sugar.

4 health benefits of coconut sugar

Although people claim that coconut sugar is an extremely healthy option to consume, scientifically, not many differences have been observed when compared with cane sugar.

The proposed health benefits of coconut sugar include:

  1. Prevents low blood sugar: This is not exclusive to coconut sugar but common in all forms of sugar consumed. The body primarily relies on glucose for energy. Like brown sugar and white sugar, coconut sugar can help increase blood glucose levels and prevent conditions such as low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.
  2. Lowers the risk of sudden blood sugar spike: This is mainly seen in coconut sugar because of the presence of inulin in it which is the slow-dissolving fiber. Because of it, a sudden increase in blood sugar levels does not occur after coconut sugar consumption, making it a healthy choice especially for people with diabetes.
  3. Good source of minerals: Because the amount of minerals present in coconut sugar is extremely less, which is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of our body, you will have to consume a ridiculously high amount of coconut sugar to meet the mineral requirements. However, it is still considered an added advantage.
  4. Antioxidant properties: Coconut sugar has some antioxidants that keep oxidative stress of our body in check and maintain a good cardiovascular system.

What are the potential risks of coconut sugar?

Because coconut sugar is similar to table sugar and high in empty calories, it shares common harmful effects such as obesity, calorie excess, and weight gain.

Thus, it is better to consume coconut sugar in moderation to avoid unhealthy weight gain and consequential increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, liver diseases, and cardiovascular diseases.

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References
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7174220/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29171545/

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