Last Updated on by San San
Can Diabetics Eat Coconut Sugar: Is Coconut Sugar Healthy?
Diabetics must be very careful of their carbohydrate intake, especially sugar. A high sugar intake can result in constantly high blood sugar levels. Lack of proper diabetic health management can be very dangerous, resulting in complications such as heart disease, organ failure, stroke, and even loss of eyesight. While these complications may be inevitable with uncontrolled diets and unhealthy lifestyles, you can always do better with your health by educating yourself on the food you can or cannot eat as a diabetic.
One popular table sugar substitute is coconut palm sugar. Coconut sugar is extracted from palm flowers by heating it until the mixture evaporates. The palm flower sap contains 80% water, 15% sugar, and 5% minerals.
After going through the manufacturing process, coconut sugar is produced. It has a similar taste and colour to brown sugar. Coconut palm sugar is used in many recipes, not just hot cups of coffee and cocoa. Depending on your sweet preference, it can be used even in the salads and food you eat.
With this information in mind, people living with diabetes have to be careful about the type of sugar they consume – even if it is coconut sugar. This brings us back to our question, “can diabetics eat coconut sugar?” Let’s find out if it can be a healthier substitute for regular table sugar.
Does Coconut Sugar Affect Blood Sugar?
Diabetes is a disease that impairs a person’s ability to produce enough insulin or does not effectively use insulin as the body should. Insulin is a chemical that enables the body to utilize sugar or glucose to produce energy. When insulin is not working properly, this sugar remains in the bloodstream causing what is called a blood sugar sike. This energy is supposed to be absorbed into the body cells to act as body fuel but instead, it remains in the bloodstream. A blood sugar spike causes symptoms such as the urge to urinate frequently, tiredness and sweating, shaking.
So does coconut sugar affect blood sugar? Yes! Surprisingly, coconut sugar contains the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as regular cane sugar. Cane sugar and coconut sugar are made up of simple carbohydrates. Sugar is a popular ingredient in many recipes, it is an important source of energy, however, in large quantities, it can be risky – both coconut sugar and cane sugar.
Here’s the nutrient profile in one teaspoon of coconut sugar;
- Calories 18
- Protein 0g
- Sugars 5g
- Fibre 0g
- Carbs 5g
- Fat 0g
Coconut sugar contains glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Sucrose contains bth fructose and glucose.
Coconut sugar contains a lesser amount of sucrose compared to other sugars, however, it still makes up 70-80% sucrose. Heating or digestion breaks down sucrose into fructose and glucose.
Coconut sugar also contains fructose, which is a sugar that is mainly found in fruits. Fructose found in fruits generally has a low glycemic index and is considered safer than fructose found in pure sugar and added sugar in processed foods. The glycemic index is a measure of how the carb content in food affects blood sugar levels. Foods with a low glycemic score do not cause blood sugar spikes while foods with a high glycemic score cause a blood sugar spike.
Coconut sugar contains a lot of sucrose and small amounts of glucose. The body absorbs glucose rapidly therefore diabetics are advised to watch their glucose intake. For type 1 diabetics, it helps prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Hypoglycemia makes one experience hunger, sweat, nauseousness, and dizziness.
GI Score of Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index score. Coconut palm has a GI score of 54. Coconut sugar has a lesser GI score compared to other sweeteners. However, food having a low glycemic index score does not make it healthy for people with diabetes.
Coconut sugar contains minerals and vitamins such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals.
It is important to note that coconut sugar is not as sweet as table sugar, therefore some people end up using more. So in the process, you could end up consuming a lot more coconut sugar than table sugar, seeing that both contain almost the same amount of sugar and glucose. Aside from the sweetness, the texture and taste are not as similar as brown sugar and refined white sugar. Coconut sugar tastes different, it will be pretty obvious when tried with drinks and food where you usually use brown sugar.
The GI score of coconut sugar is about 10 scores less than that of table sugar, though, and is a tad safer than using cane sugar.
So, can coconut sugar be used as a table sugar substitute? Well, not exactly. Both table sugar and coconut palm sugar contain almost the same amount of sugar. However, coconut sugar contains a lot more minerals. To get these minerals you’ll have to eat them in large quantities. It is important to note that coconut sugar loses most of the nutrients contained in the coconut palm because of the process it goes through to be produced.
Just like regular sugar, if you going to make coconut sugar, take it sparingly. While it is healthier than refined sugar, it can still cause the same spike in your blood sugar.
Coconut sugar can be used just like regular sugar; in tea, coffee, baking, or cooking.
Healthy alternatives of coconut sugar
If you are concerned about your intake of added sugars, there are some healthy alternatives to coconut sugar that can help satisfy your sweet tooth. When you need to sweeten your foods or drinks, consider adding fruit or fruit juice. For instance, using raisins and prunes as pancake topping instead of using maple syrup is good for diabetics. Oatmeal can be sweetened with applesauce or bananas or seltzer water.
Coconut sugar is a good choice for vegans because it is plant-based and has undergone minimal processing – no animals products are used in its making.
Coconut sugar is a healthy alternative to refined sugar and has also taken over the beauty industry. When it comes to the question, “can diabetics eat coconut sugar?” Here are the key takeaways:
Coconut sugars have the same nutrient profile as regular table sugar. It, therefore, contains sugars; diabetics are advised to watch their food sizes. Coconut sugar tends to contain less sweet than regular sugar, therefore you may be tempted to use too much of it.
Coconut sugar has a low glycemic score of 54. It is recommended for diabetics, however, it is still a sugar and it’s supposed to be taken in small amounts. Coconut sugar also contains vitamins and minerals, however, you’ll have to take a lot of it to get these nutrients.
Coconut sugar can be used in all the ways that regular sugar is used. You can use it in tea, coffee, baking, or cooking.
Coconut sugar is ideal for vegans, seeing that it is plant-based.
Diabetics are advised to use fruits and fruit juices to satisfy their sweet teeth. Without control, coconut sugar can increase your blood sugar drastically. Again, moderation is key to your diet when you are a diabetic.
In conclusion, diabetics can eat coconut sugar but have to be careful to include it in their carb intake for the day at a minimum.