Coconut Palm Sugar Benefits
White sugar is considered to be a very unhealthy sweetener but despite this many people still use it in beverages, pastries and other foods. Some of the health effects associated with the consumption of refined sugar are; heart disease, increase in blood sugar, excessive weight gain, liver damage and many other negative health conditions. Doctors and other health experts advise people, especially those who are diabetic to seek other alternatives to refined sugar. One of the most recommended alternatives is coconut palm sugar. Featured on Dr. Oz, coconut palm sugar is rapidly gaining popularity as a healthy sweetener.
What is it?
Coconut palm sugar also known as coconut sugar, [sociallocker id=”871″] coco sap sugar or coco sugar, is a type of sugar that is made using sap extracted from the flower buds of a coconut palm tree. This sugar is not at all new; it has been in use as a traditional sweetener for centuries in the regions of South-East and South Asia. Coconut sugar is at times confused with palm sugar which is different in that it is made from the stem sap of sugar date palm, Palmyra palm, date palm and sago palm. Just like most natural sugar extracts, coconut palm sugar is manufactured by heating the sap extracted from cut flower buds. The remaining syrup is dried and made into crystals, paste or blocks.
1. Low Glycemic Index (GI)
Various studies have been undertaken to determine the true coconut palm sugar benefits. In particular, this sugar has been found to have a low glycemic index (GI) of 35. The glycemic index is basically a measure of how rapidly the levels of blood sugar in the body rise after consuming something. Higher GI foods have been linked with increased obesity risk. Low GI foods such as coconut sugar help to reduce the risk of heart disease, macular degeneration and type 2 diabetes.
Compare this to refined sugar which has a GI of 60 and brown sugar with a GI of 64. Thus, replacing refined sugar with organic palm sugar has obvious health benefits to the user. You lose weight, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and your chances of suffering from lifestyle diseases are lower. You can therefore safely use coconut sugar in your baking, cooking and beverages without any worries and if you are diabetic, this is a highly recommended sugar.
2. Mineral content
Coconut palm sugar is known for its richness in minerals including potassium, zinc, magnesium and iron. In fact, as compared to refined brown sugar, coconut palm sugar contains 4 times magnesium, 10 times the zinc and 36 times the amount of iron brown sugar contains. Other minerals contained in larger amounts in coconut sugar are phosphorous, sodium and nitrogen.
Nitrogen and potassium are beneficial in prevention of cardiovascular disease. Sodium and magnesium promote optimal nerve function in the body, zinc is good for the brain, iron boosts immunity and blood health while phosphorous is important in ensuring proper kidney functioning and maintenance of cell health.
Coconut palm sugar also contains a number of vitamins (B1, B2, B3 and B6) and sixteen amino acids with the most prominent one being glutamine. Amino acids offer numerous health benefits such as quick healing while vitamins are effective in enhancing the bodyâ€™s immune system.
Not many people find the sickly sweetness of refined sugar appealing. Coconut sugar is a good alternative since it is not as sweet as white or brown sugar. This however means that when baking you may have to use more sugar than normal so as to attain the required level of sweetness. When used in beverages or baking, coconut sugar produces a good caramel taste that is somewhat close to that of natural molasses.
Where and how to buy coconut sugar?
A while back, coconut palm sugar had yet to gain popularity as a health food. It was therefore sold mostly in Asian stores. Now however, major food manufacturers are making the sugar more accessible to people though the prices are higher than those of refined sugar. You can get the sugar at Asian stores in the US or visit food and gourmet shops. Other sellers have also started selling the sugar online, but you should practice caution here to ensure that what you are buying is genuinely coconut palm sugar.
As you go to buy the sugar, there are two options available in most stores; the rock form or the soft paste form. The soft paste is ideal for baking and cooking. To ensure that you are buying the right product, always check the ingredients before purchase. This is because manufacturers may use the terms coconut sugar and palm sugar interchangeably.
Uses of coconut palm sugar
It has already been mentioned that coconut sugar can be used in baking, cooking and in sweetening of beverages. The paste form of coconut sugar is the most popular one due to its ease of use. Just add it to deserts or beverages as you would normal sugar. The rock form is a bit more difficult to use. Before using it, you can pound it into small granules or get it processed into a finer powder which resembles brown sugar. Another option is to turn it into a syrup-like liquid by adding a little water and melting it in a pan.
Every once in a while there is a hype about a new health product that promises to work wonders. Most of these products however die quickly and are proven non-beneficial. Coconut palm sugar on the other hand has been proven by scientific research to be highly beneficial. It is known to help in weight loss, blood sugar control and many other health areas. Even though research is still going on, coconut sugar has already earned its name as the new best and healthiest natural sweetener.
If you are still consuming refined sugar, you are doing your body a lot of disservice. It is time to switch over to a sugar that gives you the sweetness you desire and at the same time does not wreak havoc on your body health. The extra cost of coconut sugar is well worth it.Â [/sociallocker]