A few years ago coconut sugar (aka coconut nectar, coconut palm sugar, but not the same as palm sugar) took the health world by storm. Many manufacturers and individuals rushed to replace their standard sugar with this new, more nutritious commodity.
Coconut sugar is made from the nectar of the coconut flower. Once the nectar is collected it is boiled with lime and magosteen until dry crystals form. It is orangey brown and has a distinct butterscotch taste, which works well in most situations, but probably wouldn’t go well in a cup of builder’s tea.
Two facts helped to boost its popularity – it was deemed to be the most ‘sustainable sugar in the world’ by the UN Food Administration and had a low glycemic index (GI) of 35 (refined cane sugar is about 70 and unrefined is 65).
However, since then, no one has been able to find the source of this claim from the UN and they have gone as far as stating that they would never be able to make this claim.
More worryingly it turns out that the GI of coconut sugar may not actually be 35. the research to calculate this was only done using a test base of 10 people and was funded by the Indonesian government, who have a vested interest in promoting coconut sugar. It has been suggested by some that the GI of coconut sugar may actually be 54. Better than regular sugar, but not as good as 35.
Latterly, an article has emerged stating that coconut sugar production is threatening the livelihoods of coconut farmers and the coconut products industry as a whole.
This week we’ll be examining each of these points in turn to try find out some actual facts.
Do you use coconut sugar? Or something else? What is your favourite and why?