There is a sudden hype about Coconut Sugar and how it is a healthier alternative to the regular cane sugar. It is named as one of the superfoods of 2015 and its benefits of coconut sugar is making it a hot commodity in the health food world. Of course, I had to dig deep and find out if this is just another "passing trend". First let us get to know on Coconut Sugar a little better -
How is coconut sugar made and where does it really come from?
Coconut sugar is produced from coconut trees and is has been used for over thousands of years in South Asian and Pacific cultures. It is a natural sugar made from sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut palm. It is often confused with Palm Sugar, which is similar but made from a different type of palm tree. Coconut sugar is made in a natural 2-step process:
- A cut is made on the flower of the coconut palm and the liquid sap is collected into containers
- The sap is placed under heat until most of the water has evaporated
Is coconut sugar really better than regular sugar?
Regular table sugar and corn syrup contain high fructose content and don’t contain any vital nutrients, therefore supplying “empty” calories. Why is fructose bad for your body - fructose is a type of sugar your body converts to fat quickly. Only your liver can break down fructose, and one of the results of this breakdown is triglyceride -- a form of fat. You shouldn't consume large amounts of fructose outside of that which you get in fresh fruits. Agave nectar is 90% fructose, table sugar has 55% fructose and high-fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose. Coconut sugar has just 45% fructose, making it a better option than other sweeteners.
Coconut Sugar does offer some trace nutrients and may have less of a dramatic impact on your blood sugar than other types of sweeteners. It may not retain quite a bit of the nutrients found in the coconut palm but it contains several minerals like Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits. It also contains a fiber called Inulin, which may slow glucose absorption and explain why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar.
Due to its low glycemic index (GI), it is a better choice for people with diabetes than regular sugar. However it has to be used in moderation as it contains the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as regular sugar: about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate per teaspoon. Coconut sugar can be considered in the same boat as honey. It is healthier than refined sugar, but definitely worse than no sugar at all.
How do you use Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar can be used like your regular table sugar. Its tastes similar to brown sugar with a hint of toffee. Its has a darker almost earthy flavor therefore it tastes wonderful in baking recipes using chocolate or warm spices. It's also brilliant stirred into coffee or tea, sprinkled on top of pancakes or waffles, or used to brighten up savory recipes like curries, chicken or fish.
With so much positive information on coconut sugar I am sure to try it in my daily morning cuppa.
Here is a recipe of Cranberry Coffee Cake that you can try at home using coconut sugar and tell us your experience with it in the comments below.
- 200 gms whole wheat flour
- 50 gms corn flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100 gms butter (salted)
- 2 free range eggs
- 250 gms coconut sugar
- 200 gms frozen or dried cranberries/blueberries
- 1 vanilla bean split powder
- 100 ml milk
- 25 gms chopped almonds/hazelnuts
- Pre-heat oven at 180-degree centigrade. Sieve, weigh and measure all the dry ingredients, flours and baking powder.
- If using frozen cranberries, coarse grind them with vanilla and not into a fine paste.
- Measure butter and coconut sugar and beat until well combined. Add egg one by one and beat until it is well combined with the butter and sugar mixture.
- Combine both the dry and wet ingredients. Add cranberries and mix well. Add milk and mix well until well combined.
- Add this cake mixture into a greased pan, garnished with chopped almonds/hazelnuts. Bake for 40 minutes.
- Once done, allow it to sit for 10 minutes in the pan, before transferring to a wire rack for cooling. Eat warm with your favorite choice of toppings.
Information: http://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/, http://www.livestrong.com/article/367337-what-are-the-benefits-of-coconut-sugar/