You are in the grocery store and pick up a packaged treat, check out the food label, and immediately place it back down due to the grams of sugar perceived to be higher than uual. Would you be able to fit the product into your daily allowance if the quality of that sugar was higher? Not all sugars are created equal. Here is why many are perceiving coconut nectar to be an alternative sweetener that stands out from the others.
What is Coconut Nectar?
Coconut Nectar, also known as Coconut Palm Nectar or Coconut Sap, is the sweet nectar from the blossom of a coconut tree now being used to substitute refined and cane sugars. After being harvested from the coconut blossom, the nectar is minimally processed to remove additional water at low temperatures to produce a thick, sticky substance, similar in consistency to maple syrup or molasses and when processed further, the crystalized coconut sugar is created. Coconut Nectar is composed of 80% sucrose, 10% fructose and 10% glucose and unlike white sugar, coconut nectar is full of vitamins and minerals, especially potassium(1).
Lower Glycemic Index Sugars
It is important to think about the glycemic index of foods before consumption. This is the measurement of how much the blood sugar level will increase after consumption. Coconut Nectar is considered to be a low GI food, meaning it has a glycemic index of 35, similar to an apple and nearly half that of white sugar which has a glycemic index closer to 70.
Consuming foods with a lower glycemic index are related to a decreased risk of developing diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. After consuming a meal composed of lower GI foods, the body will have a more favorable reaction to the following meal(2).
Swap Coconut Nectar for White Sugar
This makes coconut nectar a great substitute for sugar alcohols, which can cause gastric distress, refined sugars or highly processed no-calorie sweeteners, which can be addictive and alter our perception of sweetness(3,4).
It is important that sugar intake is limited within the diet, but if we must consume sugar, it may as well be one that is minimally processed. Added sugars are composed of empty calories which lead to health complications and weight gain when contributing to excess caloric intake. New nutrition fact label changes will highlight added sugars within a product. It is important for consumers to not only look at the numerical value, but the source of the sugar as well when making a decision about a product.
1. Food and Nutrition Research Institute. Dept. of Science and Technology. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Coconut Sap Sugar/ Syrup. Access: http://www.pca.da.gov.ph/coconutrde/images/sugarpdfs/TPTrinidad_FNRI.pdf
2. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Augustin LS, Franceschi S, Hamidi M, Marchie A, Jenkins AL, Axelsen M. Glycemic index: overview of implications in health and disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jul;76(1):266S-73S.
3. American Diabetes Association. Sugar Alcohols. Access: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/sugar-alcohols.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
4. Holly Strawbridge. Artifical Sweeteners Sugar Free But at What Cost. Harvard Health Publications. Access: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030
5. Leslie Beck. Coconut Sugar: is it healthier than white sugar or just hype? The Globe and Mail. Access: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/ask-a-health-expert/coconut-sugar-is-it-healthier-than-white-sugar-or-just-hype/article19187927/