Coconut sugar is sugar that is manufactured from the sap of the blossoms of the coconut. It has been used as a long established natural sweetener in the South and South East Asia.
Coconut sugar is actually boiled and dehydrated sap of the coconut palm. It provides you with a less number of carbohydrates and calories white sugar. What’s more, it does offer trace nutrients and has a less radical influence on the blood sugar than other sweeteners. It also has a lower glycemic index. Coconut sugar is available in crystal form or as liquid.
How To Make Coconut Sugar?
The blossoms / flower buds of a coconut tree are harvested; the farmers make a cut on the spadix and the sap flows out. The sap is collected and transferred into huge woks and then heated to evaporate the liquid content. The sap is approximately 80 % water. A thick syrupy substance known as toddy is formed after evaporation. This is then reduced still further to a soft paste form or a crystal form.
Coconut sugar is faintly sweet with a slight hint of caramel in it. On the other hand, given that, coconut sugar is not highly processed, the sweetness, color and flavor tends to differ depending up on the species of coconut that has been used, the season when the coconuts were harvested, where they were was harvested and the way in which the sap was reduced.
You get 16 calories per teaspoon of coconut sugar and it also has a low content of nutrients. The major component of coconut sugar is sucrose which is about 70 – 79 % glucose and fructose which are about 3 – 9 % each. Slight differences will occur because of variations in the method of processing, the source of the raw material, tree age and variety of the coconut.
Health Benefits Of Coconut Sugar
The benefits of coconut sugar include:
- Coconut sugar offers you more vitamins and minerals compared to white refined sugar. It has trace quantities of vitamin C, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and copper.
- It also provides you with some amount of phyto-nutrients and antioxidants.
- Coconut sugar ranks 35 on the glycemic index, whilst refined sugar ranks 60 – 75. Glycemic index tells you the effect carbohydrates have on the blood sugar. Foods that are high on the glycemic index make blood sugar spike, which results in a sugar rush, followed by a crash in sugar level. Oscillations in blood sugar cause insulin levels to rise in a short interval of time, and this has grave repercussions for those suffering from diabetes mellitus.
- Coconut sugar has only 45 % of fructose, thus making it an excellent choice over other sweeteners. Fructose is sugar which the body rapidly converts to fat. Only the liver breaks down fructose, and a result of this breakdown is triglyceride – a type of fat. Agave nectar is 90 % fructose and corn syrup is 55 % fructose.
- The manufacture of coconut sugar is eco-friendly. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization has dubbed coconut sugar the most sustainable sweetener in the world. The trees use minimum water and fuel, particularly, when compared to sugar cane manufacture. Furthermore, it has no synthetic ingredients and is not chemically modified in any way.