Without a doubt, there is an incredible level of chatter about the latest sweetener to take the spotlight among those of us who are paying attention to these kinds of things. Coconut palm sugar is made from the nectar of the coconut palm, and while that might sound exotic, you first should ask, “what’s in a name?” Coconut palm sugar is, as advertised, sugar. It is not to be confused with coconut oil which has many health benefits that I talk about here.
Incredibly, even in the internet age, it is extremely challenging to garner meaningful information about the nutritional content of coconut palm sugar. What I have learned is that apparently the testing offered up by researchers in the Philippines (who are deeply invested in the global marketing of this product) has shown that, compared to other natural sweeteners, coconut palm sugar has a relatively low glycemic index, meaning that it may not raise blood glucose levels as much as other sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
The worry here is that this “low glycemic index” likely indicates that coconut palm sugar contains a lot of fructose, a sugar that doesn’t raise glucose, is highly glycating (meaning it increases free radicals and inflammation) and doesn’t signal insulin release. Insulin is released by the pancreas in response to glucose consumption and helps trigger our sense of satiety so we know it’s time to quit eating. High fructose consumption from soda beverages is a strong candidate for explaining the direct relationship between drinking high fructose sweetened beverages and obesity.
If you’d like to learn more about how damaging fructose really is, I strongly recommend you watch Dr. Lustig’s video:
In trying to find out just how much fructose coconut palm sugar contains I was frustrated when the only reference was found on Wikipedia, and if you follow the link, it is information provided by the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The fructose content is worrisome indeed.
Beyond the fact that coconut palm sugar destroys the tree’s ability to produce coconuts (think coconut oil), we really need to recognize this sugar for what it is.
The best advice is to stop consuming foods that are sweetened, with anything. In the end, this will go a long way to helping you lose your desire for sweets in general.