The low-down on Coconut Sugar
So you may have seen this sweetener popping up around the place for a while now and many of the products featured in our boxes are sweetened with it. "Not another Coconut Product!" I hear you say. But hear me out on it...
Coconut sugar is made from the dehydrated nectar of the coconut flower. So it is not made from the actual coconut itself. As it is dehydrated directly from the nectar, it does not undergo any processing like cane sugar does. The pro with this is that all of the nutrients from the nectar remain. Don't get overly excited about a "nutritious" sweetener, the nutrient content, although significantly higher than that of cane sugar, is still very low overall.
On the upside, the Glycemic Index (GI) of coconut sugar is one of the lowest of the most commonly available sweeteners (meaning it releases into the blood stream verrry slowly). With a GI of 30, it beats honey (GI of about 40) and maple syrup (GI of about 50).
It is also the most sustainable sweetener available. Cane sugar is responsible for a lot of land clearing. Whilst many question animal farming as a source for huge areas of land clearing and deforestation, cane sugar is another culprit not often looked at, and standing behind it are many of the big sugar companies. Coconut palm trees (also not to be confused with the type that Orang Utans live in) are abundant around the world and do not require additional farming or land clearing in order for the sap to be produced. They have low water requirements and one tree can provide up to two decades worth of flowing sap.
If you prefer a low-fructose diet however, coconut sugar may not be the best option as it is still made up of roughly 40% fructose. Cane sugar in comparison contains about 48% fructose. So you may need to weigh up the other benefits of coconut sugar with the downside of the fructose content depending on your dietary preferences.
I am certainly a fan of it along with a few others. Its caramel taste and not overbearing sweetness is ideal in many of the products I enjoy and in recipes I make myself. Whilst I do prefer a low-fructose diet, the sustainability factors and low-GI have won me over. And always, as long as it's enjoyed in small quantities, it's all good!