A Newer, Better Sugar?

various types of sugar(BlackDoctor.org) — If you’re dieting, have diabetes or simply are
trying to control your sugar-intake, you’ve probably heard about the
growing trend of using more “natural” sugars such as agave nectar. But
one of the newest buzzwords in the sugar world is coconut sugar…even
though it’s actually been around for quite some time.

Should you try it? Why’s it suddenly so popular?

What is coconut sugar?

Coconut sugar has been the staple sweetener in South East Asian cultures
for thousands of years. The abundance of coconut trees in this area
provided easy access to this natural sweetener. Today, most coconut
sugar on local shelves is produced in the Philippines, where they refer
to the coconut tree as the “tree of life.”

How is coconut sugar made?

The flowers of the coconut tree produce a sweet sap that is “tapped” from the tree and boiled down to create the sugar. Similar to maple sugar collection, a slit is made in the flowering area and sap flows into collector buckets below. The collected sap is placed over low heat for a long period of time, and as the water content evaporates, the sap becomes a thick, soft, honey-like syrup. The syrup can be further dried and reduced into large blocks of crystalline sugar, or a granular form.

What’s so great about coconut sugar?

One of the best attributes of coconut sugar is its low Glycemic impact (meaning it creates less of a blood sugar spike when consumed). Where traditional processed sugars are stripped of their nutrients and enter your body as pure sugar that travels immediately into your bloodstream, coconut sugar keeps blood sugar steady. Its nutrient values require your body to spend more time digesting, absorbing and utilizing available nutrients, increasing the health benefits and prolonging the energy availability. This makes it a good sugar alternative for diabetics, blood sugar sensitive consumers, and anyone looking to avoid that not-so-great-feeling crash.

Is coconut sugar more nutritious?

Coconut sugar contains significant amounts of potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and inositol. The vitamin inositol, the most abundant in coconut sugar, is known for its impact on the central nervous system and the development of healthy cells. It can help manage pain, moderate mood disorders and quell anxiety. A sweet treat that leaves you nourished, calm, pain-free and happy?

Where can I find coconut sugar?

Check your local health food store or co-op market. If they don’t carry it, check an Asian foods market or ask your grocer if they can special order it for you. It is important to note, true coconut sugar should contain coconut tree sugar flowers, as it is often mistaken for, and labeled as palm sugar.

How do I incorporate coconut sugar in my recipes?

Use coconut sugar in the same proportions you would use regular sugar. A recipe that calls for one half-cup white or brown sugar should work just fine with one half-cup of coconut sugar. Check back tomorrow for recipes with coconut sugar in homemade granola and wholesome banana bread.

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