Blame it on the brain.
We humans are hardwired to like sugar. Back in our primate days, vegetables were like a Taylor Swift song–everywhere. Fruit, on the other hand, packed with natural sugar and substantially more energy, was the brass ring–rare and hard to reach–but the apes that managed to grab it were able to store that energy as fat for the lean times and fend off starvation. Thus in a sad evolutionary joke, the genes that were passed down from the survival of the fittest made this place look more like the survival of the fattest, and we modern monkeys are damned if we’re not going to figure out how to have our cake and eat it too.
After a century of cancer-causing artificial sweeteners, natural sugars have been embraced as a healthier alternative to refined sugar. So, is coconut sugar good for you? The short answer is, yes. Read on to find out why coconut palm sugar makes a strong case for the win and its key benefits.
1. It’s not highly processed: Coconut Sugar vs Cane Sugar
After considering the nine-step process outlined by the Sugar Association as to how sugar ends up on our table, coconut palm sugar’s creation story sounds breathtakingly simple. Cut the flower of the coconut palm, drain the sap, boil it, and let it crystallize. Even better, the natural caramel color ensures it hasn’t been bleached inside a bucket of animal bones. That’s right–most non-organic sugar companies in the U.S. use the dense bones of cattle, like the pelvis, as a whitening filter to deliver those pure white crystals we’ve come to know so well.
2. Healthy minerals and vitamins
Unlike with refined sugar, iron, zinc, copper and calcium are all retained from the coconut palm. Although the amounts are low, they’re better than nothing, which (other than calories) is what sugar is offering. Coconut palm sugar also brings vitamin B and C, phosphorous, magnesium and nearly 400 times more potassium than refined sugar to the table. Pretty sweet.
3. Antioxidants and Short Chain Fatty Acids
Coconut palm sugar also contains antioxidants that combat aging by fighting tissue–damaging free radicals throughout the body. It’s also host to short chain fatty acids that have been shown to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
4. Gut Health
Coconut palm sugar contains inulin, a dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic and promotes the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria. In addition to promoting gut health, such prebiotics have been found to prevent colon cancer, balance blood sugar and combat fatty liver disease and obesity.
5. Lower Glycemic Index - good news for diabetics
A study in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice measured participants’ blood sugar levels after ingesting either 50 grams of table sugar or coconut palm sugar. Coconut sugar had a glycemic index of 35 compared to regular sugar’s 65, making it a contender for the title of a low glycemic sweetener, which is even sweeter news for those watching their blood sugar like diabetics.
6. It’s just all around better.
The ASEAN Food Journal found that compared to sugar, 22 percent of coconut palm sugar is filled with the above-mentioned nutrients while sugar is 100 percent, well, sugar.
So the next time your sweet tooth comes calling, reach for the coconut palm and leave the white stuff on the shelf.
These days it’s a simple problem of supply and demand – the supply is never ending and the demand just keeps on growing.