Coconuts are an extremely versatile fruit. They can provide a solid food in the form of coconut meat, and can provide nourishment in the form of coconut water. But did you know that the same tree that provides us with coconuts can provide us with a table sugar alternative, as well? That’s right - coconut palm sugar, or coconut sugar as it’s more commonly known, has become an increasingly popular choice as a natural sweetener as people seek replacements for conventional or cane sugar. Why? Let’s dive in and find out!
For starters, what is coconut sugar? While it may sound like coconut sugar is extracted from coconuts, it’s actually extracted from the sap of coconut trees rather than the fruit itself. It’s for this reason that coconut sugar is often confused with palm sugar, since palm and coconut trees are closely related and the method of extraction is similar. While coconut sugar has only enjoyed recent popularity as a natural sweetener, it’s been around for a very long time and has been a prominent part of south asian cuisines. In Sri Lanka, where coconut sugar is used as a syrup and sweetener, it is referred to as jaggery. In Indonesia, it’s used for sweeteners as well as meat preparations and is known as gula jawa. This goes to show that coconut sugar isn’t just a new fad sweetener - it’s been around for quite some time!
So why has coconut sugar become an ideal alternative for regular table sugar? For one, coconut sugar is typically far less processed than regular sugar. The processing method for sugar is much more complex; while the processing of coconut tree sap to coconut sugar is very simple. This is because coconut tree sap is simply heated to evaporate the water content out of the sap, and the remaining solids are coconut sugar. Because of this, coconut sugar retains a decent amount of nutrients for a sweetener, including minerals like iron, potassium, and calcium with a touch of antioxidants. It even has electrolytes, which can help maintain hydration in the body.
What’s more is that coconut sugar contains inulin, a form of fiber that acts as a prebiotic in your gut by feeding the good bacteria in your intestines. It’s in this way that coconut sugar can be a good addition to your diet if you’re looking to ingest more foods and supplements that reduce inflammation and bolster your microbiome, since conventional sugar can cause additional inflammation in your gut and hinder good bacteria growth. You can read more about eating to keep your gut healthy here.
Here at Caveman Foods, we’ve found coconut sugar to be an excellent replacement for conventional sugar - so much so that we use it in nearly all of our products, like our Nutrition Bars and our Grain Free Granola. Like honey, coconut sugar is paleo-approved and makes an excellent replacement for sugar, but it’s important to make sure you aren’t consuming it in large doses. With that in mind, give our coconut sugar-sweetened products a try - they’re sure to satisfy your sweet tooth while providing you with a healthy, balanced snacking experience.