Some of the benefits offered by coconut sugar are that it is good source of essential amino acids, has dietary fiber in it, supplies various vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron and zinc and is also a good source of antioxidants.
Coconut tree is worshiped in many parts of the world and is considered to be a tree that can grant any wish. This tree is indeed a life giver. A coconut tree provides us with coconut water, edible coconut jelly, coconut flesh, coconut milk and coconut oil. These foods, not only help a person survive, but one can thrive under any conditions. Also, these foods are very healthy and provide a wide range health benefits.
Coconut tree also provides a cheaper alternative to table sugar which is healthy for you. Coconut sugar, as the name suggests, is derived from coconut palms. The sap from tender coconut flowers is collected and heated until, all the moisture in the sap is evaporated. This end result is coconut sugar. Coconut sugar resembles brown sugar with small lumps. Today, coconut sugar is considered as a healthier and natural alternative to refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Glycemic Index of Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar has been tested against various types of sugars available in the market. The test is a standardized test known as Glycemic Index. Glycemic Index is a tool or measure that helps in associating a particular food type based on the effect the food can have on the person’s blood glucose level. The range of Glycemi c Index can range between 50 and 100, where 100 is the absolute score which represents pure glucose. In other words, the lower the Glycemic Index, the better. While table sugar scores 65, high fructose corn syrup scores 68 and coconut sugar scores 35. Also, coconut sugar has micronutrients in it which make it a good alternative to table sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners.
Health Benefits of Coconut Sugar
Is rich in amino acids: Coconut sugar is rich in amino acids. Human body requires 20 essential amino acids and coconut sugar contains 16 amino acids. Some of these amino acids include tryptophan, lysine, histidine, arginine, aspartic acid, threonine, serine, glutamic acid, proline, glycine, alanine, valine, etc.
Presence of good amounts of dietary fiber: Coconut sugar has inulin, a type of dietary fiber which we cannot digest but, it feeds our friendly gut bacteria, in turn keeping our gastrointestinal tract healthy. Apart from this, as inulin is a dietary fiber, it also helps in slowly digesting the food, thereby making sustained release of sugars into blood.
Supply of essential vitamins: Coconut sugar is also rich in vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, paraaminobenzoic acid, pyridoxal, pantothenic acid, nicotinic acid, biotin, folic acid, inositol, choline and vitamin B12. Each of these vitamins provide numerous health benefits, like pantothenic acid helps in wound healing, regulating LDL cholesterol, etc.
Presence of Choline: Choline is an essential nutrient which comes under B-complex vitamins. Choline is particularly needed during pregnancy for building cellular membranes. It is also useful in improving long term memory in fetus. It can also prevent age-related memory loss, as well.
High potassium and low sodium: Apart from vitamins, there are minerals such as potassium and sodium present in coconut sugar as well. But, one thing we must remember here is that the potassium content in coconut sugar is high and the sodium content in it is very low. As an electrolyte potassium is much needed for our bodies. This makes coconut sugar a good alternative for table sugar or other sweeteners which do not have any minerals present in them.
Presence of iron and zinc: Coconut sugar also has iron and zinc present in it. 100g of coconut sugar has about 2.3mg and 2.0mg of iron and zinc respectively. As we know the role of iron in reducing anemia and increased hemoglobin production. Zinc, on the other hand strengthens the immune system, improves appetite, is good for vision and is vital for growth and cell division.
Has glutamic acid: Glutamic acid is an amino acid which is present in coconut sugar. Glutamic acid has an important role in the metabolism of sugars and fats and it helps in transporting potassium into spinal fluid and across blood-brain barrier. It also plays a major role as a neurotransmitter and is used in treating neurological conditions.
Supply of antioxidants: Coconut sugar also has antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids and anthocyaniin. These act as antioxidants which help in reducing the effects of free radical scavenging as well as other benefits such as reducing inflammations, improving the immune system, etc.
Has less fructose: Just like various sugars such as glucose and sucrose, fructose is another type of sugar which is generally found in fruits. Hence the name. Fructose when consumed through fruit (not fruit juices) can be beneficial. But, when it is consumed directly, it is converted into fat directly and is stored in the body. But, in case of coconut sugar, there is less fructose content. In fact, coconut sugar has only 2.9% of fructose in it.
Does coconut sugar have any risks?
But, is really coconut sugar the holy grail of healthy sugar? The answer is, not quite so. Sugar in any form can be harmful, if it is consumed in excess. Moderate consumption of sugar, any type of sugar is recommended for anyone. In fact, the lesser the consumption of sugar, the better. It applies to coconut sugar as well. But, what sets coconut sugar apart from other types of sugars or sweeteners is that it is made with few less processes, in fact, it only requires one or two steps. This is lot less than other sugars and sweeteners which require many steps to process them. The number of steps or processes involved in producing sugar can be mind-boggling. So, in one sense, it could be a better alternative to shift to coconut sugar because, of the less processes that are required and for the presence of micro-nutrients in it.