What is Coconut Sugar?
Health is actually one of everyone’s big concerns, and to stay healthy, people are very precautious about what they eat on a daily basis. If sugar is known to enhance the taste of many drinks and pastries, a too important consumption of it may induce severe diseases such as diabetes. Coconut sugar is actually an interesting alternative for those who like eating sweet food while keeping a reasonable glycemic level.
Coconut sugar: what is it exactly?
It’s a common misconception to think that coconut sugar is made out of coconut palms, since these are also used to make coconut oil, but it’s not the case. On the coconut tree, there’s a blossom flower from which the actual coconuts grow. Its sap is extracted, and is the main ingredient of the coconut sugar. Since the extraction is a slow process, it usually takes overnight to get all the sap from one blossom flower. In coconut sugars factories, plenty of blossom flowers saps are extracted each night, so it can be processed in the morning.
When it is done, the collected sap is boiled from one hour and a half to three hours, at a temperature that can go from 105°F to 250°F. Afterwards, we obtain a caramel-like liquid, from which the water is evaporated, and when it’s completely dry, it can be milled into powder. You can recognize the coconut sugar by its color, which is brown/red-brown. It’s a common sweetener in countries like Philippines and Indonesia, where coconuts are a native tree. Its level of sweetness is a bit lower than cane sugar, but it is safer for health, due to its low Glycemic Index.
You can use it to cook pastries such as cakes, or with home-made smoothies and hot drinks. In the nutritionists’ community, it’s becoming more and more popular, and it begins to be widely used in the western due to its healthy advantages. The coconut sugar is mainly produced in tropical Asian countries, in which they plant coconut trees especially for this purpose. It took advantage of the interest of the westerners in have in eating healthy foods to spread in their kitchens. If years before, it was mainly in Western countries through online stores, they can actually buy it in hypermarkets.
The coconut sugar among other types of sugar
Sugar has been used to sweeten food since immemorial times. First, it has been used in Asia, before being brought to Western World in the 18th century. There are many types of sugars, divided as monosaccharides and disaccharides. If coconut sugar is often miscalled “palm sugar”, it has a little to do with this type of sweetener. They differ from the very process of fabrication and their main components, since coconut sugar is made out of coconut flower, and coconut palm is used to make the palm sugar. Also, they taste and smell differently, though they have similar colors. Coconut sugar is one among several types of sugar originated from many fruits and comestibles vegetables like beetroot.
In Western Countries, coconut sugar is still considered as an exotic sweetener, even if it’s progressively changing. It has to compete with actual processed sugars that are widely sold in Europe and North American countries. The rising popularity of Asian recipes among westerners contributes to increase the curiosity about Asian ingredients, spices and seasonings. Brown sugars in general are slowly being recognized for their benefits on health when compared to processed sugars.
The coconut sugar is healthier than processed sugar
In our era, the use of sugar is common, and it even contributes to create some sort of addiction into some people. The addiction process is the following: when one person eats sweet food, his body release dopamine, a pleasure hormone, and if he daily eats the same sweet food, his body will start craving it. It’s the reason why it’s not always easy for people to drastically change their eating habits when it comes to sugar. Because processed sugar can be dangerous for your health, it’s advised to lower its consumption; anyway, it’s not easy for everyone.
The sweeteners daily used in western countries are mainly processed sugars, despite its excessive consumption is prohibited by nutritionists. Processed sugar is risky for your health on different levels: it can causes obesity, which can lead to other more serious diseases such as cardiovascular problems. Too much sugar in your food can also give you diabetes, which is a dysfunction of your production of insulin. The high presence of fructose in processed sugar is the reason why it’s not safe for health.
Coconut sugar is actually one of the safest sweeteners on the market. Its level of fructose barely excesses 9%, which makes it eligible for a daily use with a low risk of obesity or diabetes. It also contains many good nutrients, such as magnesium, iron, and vitamins like B1, B2, B3, B6 and B8. Its Glycemic Level is 35, which is far low from the required level of 55; the Glycemic Level can be defined as the level of sugar in your blood after consuming some specific food or drinking a beverage.
The coconut trees takes advantage of the soil in which they are planted, and coconut products contains high quality minerals and amino acids, as well as traces elements. All of these nutrients allows your body to function normally. Thus, coconut sugar doesn’t just add tastiness to your food and beverages, it also help you maintain a healthy body. The quality of coconut sugar depends on how it is processed. When the heat used to prepare the sugar is too elevated, its quality is lowered, and it becomes slightly less safe for your blood’s sugar level. Overheated sugar increases the level of fructose in it, and the optimum heat to be used is about 105°F to 110°F.
The coconut sugar is environment-friendly
The production of processed sugar requires the use of many chemicals, and machines which directly or indirectly emit CO2 in the environment. It’s not the case for coconut sugar, for which every step of production only requires manual work. The coconut blossom flowers are collected manually, and you just have to let the sap sink in containers by cutting one extremity and letting it rest on reverse. There’s no need to add any chemical in the process, and you just have to boil the sap and let the water evaporate to get the crystalline coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar factories usually require less than a dozen people to craft the coconut sap. The most time-consuming step in the sugar processing is the collection of the coconut blossom flowers. Once it is done, it’s easy to cut one of their tip to let the sap slowly sink into a container.70% of the coconuts planted in Asian countries are used to make coconut sugar, but also coconut oil and many other products that can be sold. The soil only is enough to let them grow and receive every nutrients they need to produce juicy coconuts and large palms, and no fertilizer is required.
It has been recognized by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization as one of the most sustainable food of the year 2014, since it has a low impact on environment. NGOs working on worldwide health invite everyone to buy and consume bio-friendly food, because it brings more nutrients to our organism, and it is safer for our planet. If actually, the prices of bio-ailments are a bit high, it tends to go down with years, as the cost of coconut sugar productions are optimized to make it more affordable each day.
Coconut sugar to help you lose weight
Usual sugar is the main origin of overweight in Western countries. If you decide to use coconut sugar instead of your usual sugar for your food and beverage, it can help you lose weight until you reach a reasonable amount of pounds. But changing the type of sugar you eat isn’t sufficient to get effective results, and you will have to rethink the way you’re eating. Instead of soft beverages, make your own fruit smoothies, for which you can use coconut sugar. Limit your consumption of pastries every week, and if you like cooking them yourself, don’t do so several times weekly, just once or twice.
Keeping track of your sugar consumption allows you to evaluate the quantity of nutrients you eat each time. Write them down somewhere in a notebook or in a smartphone application. You can find mobile applications that let you know the percentage of nutrients for each specific amount of sugar you consummated. If you keep track of it, getting healthier and reaching your desired weight will be so much easier. This type of sugar is also diabetes-friendly, diabetes being known to lead to obesity, due to an improper management of sugar circulating in the blood.
A healthy consumption of coconut sugar
Even if the coconut sugar is less risky for health than processed sugar, it remains sugar, so you have to be careful when it comes to its consumption. Coconut sugar should be used as a way to lower your consumption of sugar. The fact that it’s less rich in fructose than cane sugar doesn’t mean you necessarily have to overuse it. Limit the amount of sugar you consume daily, so you can stay away from its bad effects on your health. You can replace your table sugar with it, and that contributes to lowers the level of fructose in sweetened food or beverages you eat and drink.
Try to use it as less as possible and you can even mix it with spices and other artificial sweeteners to get a better taste as well as better nutrients intakes. If you like sweet food, you can compensate its consumption with the practice of sports. You can choose any sport you like, as long as it allows you to have frequent physical activities. When we do physical effort, our body craves calories and carbohydrates, which are contained in sugar. You can therefore use sports as an excuse to eat more pastries, or to drink more sweet beverages. Sports contribute to make you healthier, and it becomes better at processing nutrients.