Sign up

You deserve to feel great, look great & LOVE your body

Enter your email for your FREE starter kit to get healthy & lose weight without dieting:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Is Coconut Palm Sugar A Healthy Sugar Substitute?

by | Mar 12, 2012

Photo by Robyn’s Nest

Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes can be very appealing to people looking to cut their calories or control blood sugar, and I get a lot of questions about them. Generally I don’t recommend processed or sweetened foods and encourage people to break free from regular sugar consumption, but I recently discovered coconut palm sugar and decided to look into it.

Coconut palm sugar has garnered attention as being a low-carb sugar substitute that is more nutritious than typical granulated sugar. Because of its complex flavor it is also gaining a reputation in foodie communities, with establishments like the popular Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco switching 100% of its sweeteners over to coconut palm sugar.

Pure coconut palm sugar is a natural product made from the nectar of the coconut palm tree. There are several different varieties of palm (Palmyra, date, etc.), and “coconut palm” specifically refers to the coco nucifera plant.

Most of the “palm sugar” commonly sold in Asian markets is not pure coconut palm sugar but is blended with other fillers such as white cane sugar. Pure certified organic coconut palm sugar is sold under the brand name Sweet Tree in the US, and can be found at some natural food stores.

The information in this article applies only to 100% pure coconut palm sugar. Check your labels carefully.

Pure coconut palm sugar reportedly has a naturally low glycemic index (GI)–a measure of how food impacts blood sugar–which has led some people to claim that it is a valuable sugar substitute for people with diabetes or those looking to control blood sugar (the low-carb camp). Indeed, a lower GI may be a good indication that a food is safer for diabetics, though it is not a guarantee.

When I first saw that coconut palm sugar has a low GI I figured it would be composed largely of fructose, similar to the popular sweetener agave nectar (and high-fructose corn syrup). Fructose does not impact blood sugar because it is transported directly to the liver and converted to fat. For an explanation of this mechanism, check out Dr. Lustig’s video on the dangers of fructose.

I was surprised to find, however, that coconut palm sugar is reportedly very low in fructose, and its main sugar component is sucrose (aka table sugar). What confuses me is that the GI of coconut palm sugar is supposed to be 35, while the GI of sucrose is 64. Something doesn’t add up.

I could only find a summary of how GI was measured and not the published study itself. Also, this information was only available on the website of a company that sells coconut palm sugar. This doesn’t mean the number is inaccurate, but it is a little suspicious and I’d like to see the study repeated by another credible source or two before taking it as fact.

(UPDATE: At one time I found reports of newer tests that found discrepancies with the reported GI of Sweet Tree products, but the page has since been taken down)

The number of calories in coconut palm sugar is almost identical to the number in regular table sugar and its closer relative, brown sugar. But coconut palm sugar is notably higher in various micronutrients, probably because it is less processed than industrial sugars.

But does anyone really eat sugar for health benefits?

There are a number of good reasons to consider using coconut palm sugar as a substitute for white or brown sugar in your kitchen. For me the most obvious benefit is that it tastes amazing, similar to brown sugar but with a rich complexity I’ve never tasted in industrial sugars.

Overall coconut palm sugar is a tastier and possibly healthier substitute for granulated or brown sugar. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a health food, or even low-carb just yet.

Substitute coconut palm sugar for traditional sugar at a 1:1 ratio in normal cooking and baking.

Have you tried coconut palm sugar? What do you think?

Originally published March 10, 2010.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 24, 2012

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

How to eat anything you want without gaining weight, why lard may be the new black and how some organic foods are poisoning you.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato), Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week


What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 3, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

The USDA release a new “Nutrition Plate,” cell phones might cause cancer (but probably don’t), the uselessness of genetically modified salmon and more. A great week for food and health reading.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | May 13, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Some truly fantastic articles this week including new data that farmers markets aren’t as expensive as you think, how to cut calories with a knife, and one of my favorite go-to recipes ever.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links at Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Office Hours: Sugar Toxicity + The Latest on Saturated Fat & Heart Disease [video]

by | Apr 22, 2011

For those of you who haven’t been following along with the Tomato Slice newsletter, I recently launched a segment called Office Hours where I make myself available to take any questions subscribers may have.

This week I held a special Office Hours to discuss 2 articles from last week’s For The Love Of Food post:

  1. Is Sugar Toxic? by Gary Taubes
  2. The latest scientific consensus on saturated fat and heart disease

Since I had so many questions on these papers, I recorded the session and posted it above.

If you’d like to know more about the sugar article, I also recommend Dr. Lustig’s YouTube video mentioned in the article, as well as his interview this week on KQED which I’ve included below.

http://www.kqed.org/assets/flash/kqedplayer.swf

Feel free to leave your thoughts or ask questions in the comments.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Apr 8, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Tough decisions were made this week to narrow it down to 10 stories. Love the calorie infographic, also the commentary by Dr. Ludwig on industrial food and the “small” 32 oz. soda at a SF movie theater.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg, Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 11, 2011

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

If you haven’t yet, please vote at Quirky to help us pick the final look of my farmers market bag. We’re almost done!

Great reading this week about why the case against saturated fat isn’t as strong as you thought, the role of fish in vision maintenance and the importance of childhood nutrition.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love of Food

by | Apr 30, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Exceptional reading this week. Whatever you do, don’t miss Michael Ruhlman’s calling BS on the food industry deceiving us into believing we’re too busy to cook. There’s also new data suggesting your genes may determine what diet suits you best (healthstyle anyone?) and important news for diabetics taking vitamin B supplements.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What inspired you to eat well this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love of Food

by | Apr 16, 2010

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

Tough cuts were made this week. Read about why not liking foods is unnecessary, agave nectar is worse than high-fructose corn syrup and saturated fat is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Oh, and how diets make you gain weight. The list goes on….

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

What did you find worth reading this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

For The Love of food

by | Feb 19, 2010
For The Love of Food

For The Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup.

There were an unusual number of thoughtful articles published this week. To start, read up on the important legislation that was passed for organic dairy production (yippie!). There is also some bad news about bagged salad greens you should be aware of, along with some valuable info on choosing a CSA if, per chance, the salad story makes you want to opt out of the industrial food chain (if it didn’t, check out the salmonella pepper article).

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

What inspired you to eat well this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,