One of our readers asked Rachel what she thought about coconut sugar. Here’s what she had to say:
Is coconut sugar better for me than table sugar? Is it good for me?
Here’s the short answer: I prefer coconut sugar over table sugar.
Why? Unlike table sugar, coconut sugar is not refined, meaning that it retains small amounts of vitamins and minerals. One teaspoon of coconut sugar contains low levels (about 1-2% of the daily recommended value) of vitamin C, copper, zinc, iron, and thiamine as well as trace amounts of potassium and calcium. Additionally, it has a lower glycemic index (GI) than table sugar. This may be in part because coconut sugar contains inulin—a fiber found in plant foods that helps slow the rise in blood sugar.
But, let me back up. A GI is a measure of how quickly a food will raise an individual’s blood sugar levels after it is consumed. When one consumes a food with a high glycemic index, it will cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This response is a potent signal to the beta-cells in the pancreas to produce large amounts of insulin as a response to lower the blood sugar levels.A diet that is composed mainly of high GI foods can stress out the beta-cells and can cause insulin resistance.
A GI below 55 is considered to be low. According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) coconut sugar has a GI of 35 compared to that of table sugar, which is between 63 and 73.
That’s all great news, right? Well, the thing is, coconut sugar (also called coconut palm sugar) provides just as many calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar. Additionally, it does lead to a spike in blood sugar, although that spike is lower than the one caused by processed sugars.
One thing to note is that coconut sugar is a relatively new product on the market. I searched PubMed (a reliable source for scientific studies and peer-reviewed literature) for “coconut sugar” and found no results. In time, we will have more thorough information on coconut sugar and its nutritional qualities.
So, while coconut sugar does possess qualities that make it a healthier choice than table sugar, it should still be treated as sugar and used sparingly.
When a craving for something sweet strikes, though, I recommend substituting table sugar in favor of coconut sugar. It has a delicious caramel/brown sugar flavor and works well when you are baking as you can use a 1:1 ratio for replacing table sugar.
Rachel Patterson is Relay Food’s meal planning mastermind. A Registered Dietitian by trade, Rachel’s passion for cooking began in childhood, when she began her journey to self-taught kitchen wizardry. Using the knowledge and skills she acquired in the years she spent working with families dealing with a variety of dietary and health concerns, Rachel crafts mouthwatering, nutritious recipes that make healthy eating simple and delicious.
You can see the original article here.