What is Coconut Sugar?

It’s safe to say the coconut is having a moment. Stroll through your local health food market and you won’t make it down an aisle without running into a new and deliciously coconut-y product: coconut milk yogurt, coconut water kefir, even coconut flour tortilla chips (which, by the way, are addictively good.) But it’s not just the coconut that is so versatile; it’s the whole glorious coconut tree.

In the Philippines the coconut palm is known as “The Tree of Life” for all it provides, from food to shelter to clothing. In Indonesia there’s an old saying that “there are as many uses for the coconut palm as there are days in the year,” and we believe it. Virtually every part of the palm — from the roots to the leaves — can be used — in cooking, in cosmetics, as lumber, as fuel … the list goes on and on. Whatever your project, the coconut palm is there to help.

Derived from sap

One especially sweet product the tree gives us is coconut sugar. And although the name might lead you to believe it comes from the coconut itself, the sugar is actually derived from the sap of the coconut palm. First the sap is collected from cut flower blossom stems, then it’s boiled and dehydrated, resulting in caramel colored granules. The process is simple, natural, and chemical-free.

Coconut sugar doesn’t taste anything like coconut; it has a satisfying earthy sweetness similar to brown sugar. And good news: it’s super simple to substitute it in almost any recipe. For every one cup of white sugar, use one cup of coconut sugar. (Don’t you love a good 1:1 substitution? There’s already too much math in our lives.)

More nutrients than table sugar

So why would you want to give coconut sugar a go over plain old white sugar? Well, coconut sugar is a little more nutritious than empty-calorie table sugar. Because coconut sugar is minimally processed, it retains trace amounts of minerals and vitamins like vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and inulin, a prebiotic fiber.

coconut sap

Low Glycemic Index

And while coconut sugar does contain the same amount of carbs and calories as cane sugar, it has a lower glycemic index (GI.) In a (coco)nutshell, the GI measures the speed at which foods raise blood sugar, and foods with lower GI values are metabolized more slowly, allowing for smaller variations in blood glucose and insulin levels. Coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 35, compared with table sugar’s 58, so it won’t spike blood sugar levels as dramatically. Choosing a lower GI diet allows for sustained energy, and there is notable evidence that it can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
coconut sugar glycemic index


Now we’re not claiming coconut sugar is a miracle food, but we sure do admire its caramel-y flavor, the natural way it’s procured, and how its lower GI keeps our energy levels more even — no crazy sugar rush means no awful sugar crash. We love coconut sugar stirred into our coffee, swirled into oatmeal, and, of course, baked into our cookies!

As with any sweetener, of course, it’s important not to over-do it. But when you’re treating yourself, why not treat yourself with unrefined, natural sweetness?

Pro tip: Check the label to make sure you’re getting 100% pure coconut sugar with no additives! Some manufacturers mix it with cane sugar or other ingredients.

Our cookies are sweetened with coconut sugar and dates. Give them a try!

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