If you’ve ever tried any healthy recipes you’ve found online, chances are good you’ve come across one or two that call for the use of coconut sugar instead of using regular sugar. But, is coconut sugar better for you than regular sugar? Let’s find out.
Coconut sugar, which is sometimes also called ‘coconut palm sugar’, actually doesn’t come from coconuts but rather from the sap of coconut palm trees. A bit like how maple syrup comes from the sap of maple trees.
To make coconut sugar, harvesters begin by cutting into the coconut palm tree’s flower-bud stem to access its nectar. The sap is then mixed with water, boiled into a syrup, and then left to dry and crystallize. Once dried, the sap is then broken apart to create sugar granules similar to regular sugar.
As a plant-based, natural sweetener, many people feel that coconut sugar is more nutritious than regular sugar, but in reality, coconut sugar is almost identical to regular sugar when it comes to nutrients and calories.
In appearance, coconut sugar looks more like brown sugar than regular white sugar, and this can affect your results when baking with it too. If a baking recipe calls for brown sugar, you can easily substitute coconut sugar for the brown sugar without having too much effect on the appearance of the finished product.
If the recipe usually uses caster sugar or white sugar, you can substitute coconut sugar for these sugars, but the finished product will probably appear darker and be more dense in texture. Just something to keep in mind.
While coconut sugar does retain many nutrients found in the coconut palm — mostly iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium – it does not contain enough of these nutrients per serving to offer a measurable benefit.
You would have to eat an awful lot of coconut sugar to get enough of these nutrients from it and, the fact is, coconut sugar is still a sugar and so moderation is key. One advantage that coconut sugar may have, however, is that it also contains the soluble fiber inulin, which has been linked to a lower risk of blood sugar spikes.
So, if keeping your blood sugar steady is important to you, like for people with diabetes, coconut sugar may be a better choice than regular sugar.
So, while coconut sugar does contain very small amounts of minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, there is no denying that it is still high in calories so it needs to be treated like any other sugar – taken in moderation.
Both coconut sugar and regular sugar contain a similar amount of calories so there is no point in substituting coconut sugar for regular sugar if you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake. So, is coconut sugar good for you? Not really – sorry!