Today we are going to talk about an excellent sweetener. We know you like your sweets–the problem is they may be debilitating to your health. If you are going to eat your sweets we recommend you do so with unprocessed, unrefined, whole, natural, and clean sweeteners. That means you should be throwing out the white sugar in your cabinet–and the high fructose corn syrup in most of the processed foods in your cabinet. Go ahead. We will wait while you throw it out.
Ok, now that you are back we shall continue. We are going to talk about palm sugar, also called coconut sugar. While the names may be used interchangeably, palm sugar and coconut sugar can come from different trees–like the date palm or sugar date palm and the coconut palm. We are specifically referring to coconut palm sugar in this article.
Coconut palm sugar, which comes from the sap of a coconut blossoms, is high in potassium, zinc, magnesium, and iron and has trace sources of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and Vitamin C. Most places thicken the sap under controlled heat to maintain the flavor and nutrients in the sugar. Some places such as Coconut Secret process the sap at low temperatures to keep it raw with enzymes intact.
A benefit of coconut palm sugar is that it has a lower glycemic index (35-40) than other sugars and has a better makeup than sweeteners such as agave. Agave nectar is also low glycemic, but is high in fructose and many times over processed. Coconut palm sugar is mostly sucrose which is made up of fructose and glucose, however when fructose is in this bound up form of sucrose it responds better in the body by not immediately being processed in the liver–as is the case with high fructose corn syrup or agave nectar. The presence of trace minerals also aids in balancing blood sugar levels (minerals such as chromium have been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes). Always look for sweeteners that are less refined with some trace minerals.
Another benefit is that palm trees are highly sustainable and produce 50-75% more per acre than sugar cane. One problem with coconut sugar is that the sap that comes from the flower is what nourishes and eventually allows the flower to become a coconut from which we get coconut oil, flour, and dried coconut. Without the sap there are no coconuts! Some trees have been set aside particularly for the purpose of collecting the sap, which is a great idea, as many times the sap is used for alcohol or vinegar. However, demand is currently extremely high, while supplies are limited resulting in high prices across the board for coconut products. (So go ahead and plant some coconut trees so we can have enough for both sugar and oil).