Coconut sugar, known as the sugar from the coconut palm, is produced from the sap of flowers of the coconut palm. It has been used for centuries as a sweetener, especially in the regions where coconut trees bloom, such as South – East Asia. The coconut sugar is mainly composed by sucrose, which gives it a sweet, caramel flavor. Unlike white sugar, the coconut sugar is minimally processed and it has got fewer chemicals added, meaning that most of its minerals are intact. For this reason, coconut sugar has become very popular in West as a substitute for white and brown sugar and it is for sale in every natural food markets.
Beneficial for diabetics: one of the biggest attraction as a sugar substitute is its low glycemic index – 35, which is comparable to almost all vegetables and fruits. Consequently, this type of sugar has a low impact on blood sugar level, being beneficial for diabetics, pre-diabetic and for anyone who wants to avoid sudden increases of blood sugar. Most of sugar substitutes, including honey and maple syrup, have a high glycemic index, like 69 or more, while white sugar can often reach 90!
Rich in amino acids – because it is unprocessed, the coconut sugar contains the same 16 amino acids, exactly like the sap from which it is extracted. Specifically, 100g coconut sugar provide us 34,2g glutamic acid (an essential neurotransmitter for the proper function of the brain), 11,2g of aspartic acid (promotes metabolic function and it is also used to treat depression), 15,4g of threonine (maintain protein balance of the body) and 8,2g of serine (helps for brain function and nervous system, as well as small amounts of other essential and nonessential amino acids. These amino acids are needed for cells growth and repair, for a proper function of metabolism and the production of hormones and enzymes.
Vitamin B complex – coconut sap is rich in vitamins, including 12 of the essential B vitamins and the coconut sugar inherits this benefit.
Of all the B vitamins, the inositol (vitamin B8) has the highest level, and it is necessary for the formation of healthy cells and it is also used to treat anxiety and sadness. Coconut sugar contains high levels of thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid, choline, pyridoxal, para-B12, often found in plants. All of these B vitamins help the cell metabolism and provide us energy.
Excellent source of minerals – a teaspoon of coconut sugar contains lot of minerals and other elements. These minerals include phosphor (important for bones and kidney), potassium (reduces hypertension and lower the blood sugar level), nitrogen (it treats cardiovascular diseases), magnesium (regulates the metabolism and stimulates the brain), manganese (an important antioxidant), copper (helps to release energy and for melatonin production inside the skin), as well as small amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, boron, sulfur, sodium and chlorine.
Although these terms are often used interchangeably even in South-East Asia, coconut sugar is different from palm sugar both in taste, texture, preparation method, and source. Unlike coconut sugar, which is always made from coconut, the palm sugar is made from sugar palm, date palm, sago palm and some other palm trees. Therefore, when you buy coconut sugar products, make sure it is always labeled as “coconut”.