Thursday, 1 December 2016

5 Top Benefits, Nutrients & Side Effects Of Coconut Sugar (Coconut Palm Sugar)

 

Since we do coconut farming and depend on it for our livelihood, I am very much interested in products got from coconut tree. When coconut sugar was first available in our local super market, I was quite excited and got a packet for using it daily instead of regular sugar. Coconut sugar is called by many names like coconut palm sugar, coconut blossom sugar, raw coconut palm sugar, coconut cane sugar, coconut brown sugar, coconut flower sugar and they all mean the same thing. And many confuse palm sugar with coconut palm sugar. Both are different and got from different trees, one from coconut tree and the other from palm tree. Coconut sugar tastes almost like palm jaggery but lot less sweeter than it. As more people are becoming aware of the side effects of eating regular refined white sugar, natural sugars like coconut sugar are getting popular. Once a product gets popular we also start getting confusing information about it. It is the same with coconut sugar too, some say it is the best but some say it is just a marketing hoax. From what I learnt after excessive research about coconut sugar, it is not a miracle ingredient like touted in some articles nor is it very bad. How Is Coconut Sugar Made? Coconut sugar is made by collecting coconut sap also called as neera from coconut trees which in turn is boiled to get rid of the water content resulting in coconut sugar. Nutrient Value Of Coconut Sugar: 100 grams of coconut sugar contains around 79 mg of phosphorus, 1030 mg of phosphorus, 29 mg of magnesium, 45 mg of sodium, 26 mg of sulfur, 2 mg of zinc, .1 mg of manganese, 2mg of iron, .23 gm of copper, .41 mg of thiamine and 23.4 mg of vitamin C. Glycemic Index Of Coconut Sugar: Coconut sugar has low glycemic index of 35. Where To Buy Coconut Sugar? We get coconut sugar in almost all the health food stores in India. You can also order it online. When buying coconut sugar make sure to buy pure organic coconut sugar. How Much Does Coconut Sugar Cost? It costs around 100 rupees for 250 grams. If you are used to white sugar, you might find the taste different and it takes some getting used to but if you are used to natural Indian sweeteners like palm jaggery or regular jaggery, then you will find coconut sugar some what similar but lot less sweeter. Can Diabetic Patients Consume Coconut Sugar? In my humble opinion, coconut sugar should be considered as a regular sweetener and should be avoided by diabetic patients as it has almost 40 % fructose......


THE BENEFITS OF COCONUT SUGAR:

1. Coconut Sugar Contains More Nutrients:

 Compared to regular table sugar which does not have any nutrient value, coconut sugar does have many nutrients as mentioned above. In addition to the nutrients mentions above, coconut sugar also contains phytonutrients like polyphenols, flavonoids, etc. So if you have to choose between coconut sugar and regular table sugar, I would suggest definitely to go for coconut sugar.

2. Coconut Sugar Has Low GI:

 Coconut sugar is reported to have a low GI 35 (but though I have mentioned 35, there is a lot of debate going on about the correct GI of coconut sugar, the range being mentioned from 35 to 54) when compared to table sugar which has a high GI of 70. Other natural sweeteners like honey has a GI of 50 to 55, maple syrup has a GI of 54 and black strap molasses about 55. If the GI of 35 which was determined by a study done in Philippines is true, coconut sugar does have a low GI compared to other sweeteners.

3. Coconut Sugar Is Least Processed:

When I saw a documentary a few years of how commercial table sugar is made, I was stunned at the amount of chemicals used for bleaching and getting the pure white colour of sugar that we all so love. Coconut sugar made traditionally has only two steps, the coconut sap is collected in bamboo containers or earthen pots (here in India, we commonly use earthen pots). Then it is boiled till thick in large vats using wooded fire. Once very very thick, it is let to cool and then rubbed to make it into sand consistency and then sieved to get fine coconut sugar. So even here coconut sugar definitely wins over table sugar.

THE CASE AGAINST COCONUT SUGAR:

4.  Coconut Sugar Has High Amounts Of Fructose:

Excessive amount of fructose in our diet is very very dangerous as only our liver can metabolize fructose.  High fructose diet increases LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, ages our skin and puts a lot of pressure on our body. Doctors and nutritionists advise us to avoid white sugar because it has about 50 % fructose along with providing empty calories with practically no nutrients. But unfortunately coconut sugar also has 40 % fructose so definitely it is no miracle food and we should definitely pay a close attention to how much we are consuming every day. It only reminds me of what my grandma is used to say often about everything, moderation is the key to happiness and it applies to consuming coconut sugar too. 

5. Coconut Sugar Calories, Cost & Taste:

Coconut sugar has almost the same amount of calories (15 calories per teaspoon) like normal table sugar. Also like I mentioned above, consuming coconut sugar definitely takes some getting used to. I would suggest slowly replacing white sugar else with coconut sugar and give some time for your taste buds to get used to the new taste. Another concern about coconut sugar is the cost, a kilo of coconut sugar costs around 400 rupees while a kilo of table sugar costs around 45 rupees. I hope over time as coconut sugar gets mass produced the prices will go down and we will able to buy it regularly....



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