We explore the pros and cons.
If you've been paying attention to the health food craze recently, then chances we're sure you've tried your fair share of natural sweeteners or sugar substitutes. Coconut sugar has recently made it onto the list. It's touted as being less refined, more sustainable and less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar levels. But do all the benefits really outweigh the disadvantages?
First, we'll explain what coconut sugar is. It comes from the sap of the coconut palm tree, which produce about 50 percent more sugar per acre than sugar cane. The flower of the coconut palm is cut to get to the liquid sap, which is then placed under heat until most of the water has evaporated. It also needs far less water and doesn't deplete the soil as quickly, making most can sugar crops more sustainable.
We put together a list of pros and cons of consuming coconut sugar:
- Coconut sugar retains many of the nutrients found in the coconut palm, including iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. However, it still has the same amount of calories as regular sugar. These are trace minerals, meaning they don't add up to much unless you consume a lot of it.
- It contains a fiber known as inulin that may help slow glucose consumption, so it's a good alternative for people with diabetes. It should still be used according to a diabetic diet plan, as the calories and carbohydrates don't differ much from normal sugar.
- The inulin may also help restore good bacteria in your gut. This is because inulin can stimulate the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria, which are commonly found in probiotics.
- It contains at least as much fructose, if not more, as regular sugar. Fructose has been linked to multiple health problems, such as inflammation of the liver, fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
- Like most artificial sweeteners, it's more expensive than normal cane sugar. Some brands are even blended with table sugar, so make sure to read the label before purchasing!
- It may not actually be more sustainable. Its sustainability depends on the variety of palm tree the sap is coming from, where it's growing and how it's produced.
Bottom line: Even though coconut sugar has more health benefits than normal table sugar, you would have to eat a large amount of it to really reap its benefits. Since its calories and carbohydrates are the same as that of normal sugar, any type of sugar should be consumed in moderation, including coconut sugar.