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Is Coconut Sugar Good for Diabetes? Here’s What You Need to Know
Diabetes

Is Coconut Sugar Good for Diabetes? Here’s What You Need to Know

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 August 7
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5 min

Coconut sugar is often touted as a healthier alternative to regular table sugar, but is it a good choice for those with diabetes? We take a closer look at this natural sugar to find out how it could be good for those with diabetes.

Is coconut sugar good for diabetes

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Coconut sugar is one of many popular sugar alternatives that have come onto the market in recent years. You’ll find this coconut palm-derived sugar in the baking aisle of most grocery stores, and it can be used as a replacement for white sugar.

It is a natural sweetener and is less refined than white sugar, corn syrup, and cane sugar, meaning it retains some of the nutrients found in the coconut palm tree. It is thought that because of these nutrients, coconut palm sugar is a healthier alternative to white sugar.

As an alternative to sugar, some may consider coconut sugar a good choice for those with diabetes.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at coconut sugar, including what it is, how it is derived, and if it is a good choice for those with diabetes. Take a look now to find out more.

What Is Coconut Palm Sugar?

Coconut sugar, or coconut palm sugar, is a natural sugar or sweetener derived from the sap of the coconut palm tree. The fluid that circulates inside the coconut plant is called sap.

Coconut sugar is made by tapping the coconut palm tree and collecting the liquid sap. This is then placed under heat until all the water evaporates and you’re left with granules. The granules are the same color as raw sugar, but the particles are slightly smaller.

Coconut Sugar Nutritional Value

The nutritional value of coconut sugar per 100g is as follows:

  • Energy: 375kcal
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrate: 110g
  • Fiber: 0g

Along with these macronutrient values, coconut sugar also contains a number of nutrients, including calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, zinc, and vitamin D. Unlike with white sugar intake, consuming coconut sugar can offer you some nutritional value.

Coconut sugar also contains small amounts of fiber, inulin, which helps lower its glycemic index.

Coconut Sugar Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of coconut sugar is between 50–54. This is around the same as regular sugar, which has a glycemic index of about 60. The glycemic index (GI) of a particular food indicates how quickly it will raise blood sugar levels in comparison to pure glucose.

Low GI foods generally have a glycemic index of 55 or less. People with diabetes are often advised to eat foods with a low GI score; however, the GI of food can change when combined with other foods or when cooked in certain ways.

Low GI foods do help those with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, though, along with a curated diabetes eating plan.

Is Coconut Sugar Good for Diabetes?

Coconut sugar is sometimes considered an alternative to table sugar or brown sugar for those with diabetes. Like table sugar, coconut sugar contains sucrose, glucose, and fructose. In fact, it is about 70–80% sucrose, which means it will raise blood sugar levels in a similar way to table sugar.

Coconut sugar also has a small glucose content, which is the most quickly absorbed sugar by the body. This means that coconut palm sugar may cause blood sugar spikes like table sugar would.

Coconut sugar is sometimes advertised as being a more healthful option, which some think makes it a better choice for those with diabetes; however, it has the same carbohydrate value as regular sugar.

If you’re wondering whether those with diabetes can eat coconut sugar, they can. However, it has the same calorie and carbohydrate content as regular cane sugar and should be counted within your daily intake to ensure you’re monitoring your sugar intake correctly.

Is Coconut Sugar Healthier Than Regular Sugar?

Unlike table sugar, coconut palm sugar is much less refined. Coconut palm sugar contains minerals that include iron, calcium, potassium, and zinc, as well as polyphenols and antioxidants.

These nutrients make coconut sugar slightly healthier than other kinds of sugar, but it is still very high in calories. You are also able to find these nutrients in many other food sources that have a lower calorie count.

If you’re looking for a healthier option for a sweetener, you could try natural sweeteners like stevia, which does not contain any calories and has a glycemic index of 0.

3 Benefits of Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar does come with some benefits along with its effects on blood sugar levels, which is why it is often chosen over cane sugar. Many people treat coconut palm sugar as a healthier option, and while it is in some respects, it’s important to remember that it is still sugar.

The benefits of coconut palm sugar are summarized below for you to take a look at.

#1 Unrefined

Coconut sugar is unrefined natural sugar. It does not undergo the same level of processing that cane sugar does. This means it retains some of its nutritional value.

When choosing sugars and sweeteners, it is best to choose the natural options. Though they will still affect your blood sugar levels, they can provide some nutrients. These nutrients have health benefits that regular table sugar doesn’t offer.

#2 Rich in vitamins and amino acids

As coconut sugar is unrefined, it comes with vitamins and amino acids that are essential to the body. Getting these in your diet, even if in the added sugar in processed foods, can be helpful if you’re not getting them from anywhere else.

Though added sugar is considered bad for you, if you’re using coconut sugar in baked goods, you are at least adding vitamins and amino acids to your diet.

#3 No added chemicals

One of the best things about natural sugars is that they are not refined or processed. This means there aren’t any added chemicals that can cause your body harm.

It is important to look out for non-GMO and organic varieties of coconut sugar to ensure you’re avoiding the synthetic and harmful chemical residue found on products grown on organic farms.

FAQs

Does coconut sugar spike blood sugar?

Yes. Coconut palm sugar will spike your blood sugar levels because it contains fructose, glucose, and sucrose. It has a relatively low GI score, and the presence of inulin may make the spike smaller than if you were to consume table sugar.

What is the safest sweetener for people with diabetes?

The safest sweeteners for those with diabetes are sweeteners that have a low or no-carb content and a low glycemic index. Good choices may include stevia and sucralose, which have a glycemic index of 0.

Is organic coconut sugar safe for people with diabetes?

Organic coconut palm sugar is safe for those with diabetes, provided the carbohydrate and sugar content is counted within your daily sugar intake. Organic coconut sugar may also be better for you than non-organic as it doesn’t contain any of the pesticide residue found in mainstream products.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Those with diabetes need to limit their carbohydrate intake and monitor their blood levels. This means eating foods with a lower GI as well as avoiding foods that are high in sugar.

There are two different kinds of diabetes mellitus. Both kinds mean blood sugar levels need to be monitored, but they are caused by different things.

When it comes to sweeteners and sugars, those with diabetes are better off looking to sweeteners with a lower glycemic index. Sweeteners like stevia and sucralose both have a GI of 0, making them perfect for those with diabetes.

When being diagnosed with diabetes, you will likely be advised on an eating plan that contains many low GI foods and is designed to keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy level. Coconut sugar may be a part of this plan, but it is important you don’t consume it in excess.

To keep your sugar intake to a minimum, you can also avoid processed foods and ensure you eat foods that contain fiber to stop excessive blood sugar spikes.

Conclusion

Coconut sugar is a natural sugar that comes with some health benefits. It is often used as a healthier alternative to regular sugar due to its small amount of nutrients, polyphenols, and antioxidants – all of which improve your overall health.

For those with diabetes, coconut sugar may be a good choice as it has a slightly lower GI than regular sugar and contains a small amount of fiber called inulin. However, it is always worth remembering that coconut sugar is still a sugar and contains carbohydrates like regular cane sugar does.

For the best sugars and sweeteners for those with diabetes, you should consult a qualified nutritionist to ensure you’re picking what is best for you and your body.

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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