What’s the Deal with Coconut Palm Sugar?
Coconut palm sugar – also known as coconut sugar – doesn’t actually come from coconuts but from the flowers of the coconut palm tree.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
What’s the deal with coconut palm sugar? I’m hearing that it’s much better than regular sugar.
Coconut palm sugar is being hyped all over the place as a healthy alternative to regular sugar. The operative word here is “hyped.” Here’s why.
Coconut palm sugar – also known as coconut sugar – doesn’t actually come from coconuts but from the flowers of the coconut palm tree. Workers make a cut in the flower and collect the sap that drips out. Then they put it in the sun and let the water evaporate – what’s left is coconut palm sugar. People selling this stuff claim that coconut palm sugar has lots of nutrients and a lower glycemic index (GI) than ordinary sugar.
The USDA database lists 12 brands of coconut sugar, and the majority of them have zero nutrients. Those that do have negligible amounts. One brand had less than one-fifth of a milligram of iron, another brand had 1 milligram of vitamin C. It’s important to note that coconut palm sugar is used in some of Clean Eating’s dessert recipes and is CE-approved because it is much less processed than most other conventional sweeteners. But the idea that this is a nutrient-rich sugar is kind of laughable, and besides, even if it was, you’d be better off getting your nutrients from real food.
See alsoCE-Approved Sweeteners.
As far as glycemic index goes, let’s remember that GI is only part of the story. Fructose, for example, has a really low glycemic index, but it does tons of metabolic damage when consumed in excess. About 70 to 80% of coconut sugar is sucrose (table sugar), half of which is fructose, meaning coconut sugar is still about 35 to 40% fructose.
I’m not saying you should never use this stuff. What I object to is the notion that things like coconut palm sugar get a free pass in the health world and are portrayed as “nutrient-rich” alternatives. Although all sugar affects the body the same, using a less-processed alternative like coconut sugar is still the better choice. Just keep it to a minimum and use it only for dessert recipes.