It’s wise to have coconut sugar substitute options in your kitchen.
Importantly, coconut sugar is neither a miracle food nor a healthy substitute for table sugar.
It is quite akin to the regular table sugar. From the point of nutrition, it is not better either.
We would recommend you to use it sparingly or find healthy replacements for coconut sugar.
An overview of coconut sugar
Coconut flowers contain a sugary circulating sap. Coconut sugar is a natural sugar processed out of palm sap.
Some folks also call coconut sugar as palm sugar. However, the actual palm sugar is obtained from a different type of palm tree.
The making process of coconut sugar involves 2 steps:
- A cut is made on the coconut flower before blossoming and the liquid sap is collated in a specially designed container.
- The sap is heated till all water in it evaporates.
Finally, the end product of this process is granulated and brown sugar.
The color of coconut sugar is quite similar to raw sugar. But it has a smaller particle size and more variables.
Some advantages of coconut sugar over regular table sugar
Coconut sugar contains quite a bit of natural nutrients present in the coconut palm sap. Whereas, the regular sugar contains only empty calories and no nutrients.
Some of the expected benefits of coconut palm sugar are:
- Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index
- contains a bit of mineral-like iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium
- it contains a fiber called inulin which reduces glucose absorption
- it includes some short-chain fatty acids like polyphenols and antioxidants
What is bad about coconut sugar?
You might have seen frequent claims that coconut sugar is effectively fructose-free. In reality, it is made of 70-80% sucrose that is half fructose.
Secondly, coconut sugar contains a lot of calories. It is quite similar to the table sugar in calorie content.
The nutrients present in coconut palm sugar are only a negligible amount. You have to eat natural and healthy foods to get the required nutrients and not coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar is very high in calories (same as regular sugar) and you’d have to eat a ridiculous amount of it to satisfy your need for the above nutrients.
Choosing the right coconut sugar substitutes
Coconut sugar is somewhat healthier than regular table sugar.
But the over-consumption of coconut sugar is equally dangerous and harmful as the table sugar.
Registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Deborah Malkoff-Cohen tells that naturally occurring sugars are better for health. Natural sugars are found in foods like milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose).
The replacements of coconut sugar must be natural sugars got from fructose and lactose.
Your substitute sugar should not contain sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.
Here are some of the best alternatives to coconut palm sugar:
1. Light brown sugar: a choice above the rest
Both white and brown sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beet plant. Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to refined sugar.
Light brown sugar contains fewer molasses than the darker version of it.
The flavor and color of the light brown sugar are quite identical to coconut sugar.
You can replace the coconut sugar with brown sugar as a 1:1 ratio. You may alter the ratio of substitution according to sweetness.
Because of the molasses contained in brown sugar, it contains a bit of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.
2. Sucanat: a natural cane sugar
Sucanat is less processed and more natural than white sugar.
Sucanat is made by heating sugar cane juice into a thick syrup. After heating, the syrup is cooled and crumbled into dry granules.
Sucanat has a light brown appearance and tastes and looks almost like the coconut sugar.
The granules of Sucanat sugar have a hard texture and take a longer time to dissolve than the regular sugar. Most cooks prefer to grind it before adding into recipes.
You can use Sucanat as a substitute for coconut sugar in the same ratio of measure.
3. Maple sugar – the good flavor profile
Maple sugar is produced from the sap of the maple tree.
Maple sugar is just maple syrup that’s been cooked a bit longer. After heating, the syrup is stirred with a paddle until it forms a granular sugar.
Maple sugar is a nice alternative to coconut sugar as both of them share a similar flavor profile. The substituting ratio is a 1:1 measure.
4. Date Sugar – a sugar-like no other
Date sugar is made from dried dates.
Date sugar is made by first making a paste from raw dates mixed with maltodextrin. The mixture is heat dried and ground into granules.
This natural sugar contains a few useful vitamins and minerals.
Date sugar is as sweet as coconut sugar and can be used as a 1:1 substitute for it.
Some studies suggest that date sugar may help in alleviating constipation, and diabetes issues.
5. Raw honey – a nutritious natural sweetener
Many folks like to use raw honey as a sweetener because it has healthier aura than table sugar.
It is loaded with antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Liquid honey is sweeter than coconut sugar and you may require the only ½ the portion while substituting it.
6. Stevia sugar – the healthiest natural sweetener
Stevia is the healthiest substitute for white sugar, coconut sugar, and brown sugar.
Stevia sugar is extracted from the leaves of the stevia plant.
Most importantly, it contains no calories and 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It does not increase blood sugar.
Stevia is a healthy replacement for coconut sugar. 1 teaspoon of powdered stevia equals 1 cup of coconut sugar.
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