Do you know about palm sugar or coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar? I didn’t until a commenter here told me about it. That truly is the coolest thing about blogging; the sharing of information. I had never heard of it so I had to do a little reading up on it. Now I am wondering how I didn’t know about this. It’s good stuff. It is made from the sap from the flowers of a date palm. It is actually good for you. Here are some things I have learned.
- Here is a link that compares its mineral content to other sugars. Impressive I must say. Honey…. disappointing.
- The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has reported that coconut palm sweeteners are the single most sustainable sweetener in the world.
- It hasn’t yet been commercialized so it is still farmed by small farms as opposed to gigantic corporations.
- Coconut sugar has an extremely low glycemic index. It’s 35!!! This is amazing. A low GI is important for everyone, especially diabetics. It is also helpful for weight loss.
Those are all really great things. There are however some negatives. You need to read a bit between the lines to see them. The information was originally circulated by the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute. The Philippine government has a whole lot to gain by having coconut palm sugar portrayed in a positive light. I re-read the same original research over and over on several different web sites. They are all the exact same. It’s like there is only one source of original information. My concern was the amount of fructose in coconut sugar. Fructose is what does the damage to your liver over time and that in turn causes a plethora of illnesses, namely diabetes. If you haven’t watched the video by Dr. Robert Lustig about fructose yet, here is the link to see it. It is sooooo worth the time. The articles explained the fructose content like this:
Coconut palm Sugar is naturally low on the Glycemic Index (GI), which has benefits for weight control and improving glucose and lipid levels in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2). Coconut palm sugars are rated as a GI 35. By comparison, most commercial Agaves are GI 42, Honeys are GI 55 and Cane Sugars are GI 68.
The major component of coconut sugar is sucrose (70-79%) followed by glucose and fructose (3-9%) each. Minor variations will occur, due to differences in primary processing, raw material source, tree age and variety of coconut.
Now that all sounds good, right? However, sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Let’s do some simple math and look at the actual fructose content.
70/2 = 35 —–> 35 + 3 = 38% (not too bad)
79/2 = 39.5 —–> 39.5 + 9 = 48.5% (pretty close to the same amount of fructose in table sugar)
So the actual amount of fructose can range from 38% to 48.5% (High Fructose Corn Syrup is 55%) In addition to the fructose content, it is not low carb. It is a slow carb. Unfortunately for me this means that I need to use this in moderation instead of like the free for all like I was really hoping. While I do think it is far and away the best choice for a sweetener (I really don’t care for stevia which probably is best), it’s not the loop-hole I was hoping it was.
How does it taste? Awesome! It is much like honey except less floral and more caramel. I have been using it like I would honey by melting it a bit with some oil. The price? I got it at a local Asian market for about $1.40 a pound. If you buy it online I saw it for as much as $8/lb! Some brands from Thailand are whiter than the rest which are anywhere from brown to beige. Check the ingredients list. Many of the whiter ones have table sugar added to them. It comes in hard discs or in jars. The sweetness and flavor will vary in each batch.
If you have more information on coconut palm sugar please post a link in the comments. What are your thought? Have you tried it?