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Sugar, sugar, sugar - What’s the difference?

We know that coconut products are very popular at the moment – but what’s the reason for their popularity? – My short answer: People are taking research out of context and using it to sell super-expensive products, like everything coconut.

So what’s the deal with coconut sugar?

  • It’s actually made from the blossoms of the coconut palm tree, not coconuts themselves.

  • It has the same amount of carbohydrates and calories as regular table sugar (note: table sugar is 100% sucrose).

  • It is 80% sucrose with the rest being free glucose and fructose - So really, it is very similar to regular sugar.

  • It is claimed that coconut sugar has a lower GI than white sugar – but we don’t know if this is true, as the study that suggested this is being questioned. The GI of coconut sugar is not listed in the International GI Tables – so until then, we don’t know the true GI of this sugar. Table sugar has a moderate/medium GI anyway, so it wouldn’t spike insulin levels as quickly as other sources (such as white bread).

  • It has been put on a pedestal because claims suggest it has many vitamins and minerals – but only a small amount. So to get enough nutrients from coconut sugar, you’d have to eat a whole lot of it. And that’s not ideal. ‘A lot’ of sugar is never ideal, no matter the type.

  • Finally, it is really expensive. If you want to try it for taste and want to pay the price, go ahead. But remember, it is still a sugar, and should be used in small amounts.

Bottom line is: sugar is sugar, whether it’s white, brown, raw or made from coconut trees. All sugars are similar, in that 1 teaspoon of any type has around 15 calories.

So, choose sugar upon preference, not upon the claims you read on the internet. And whatever type you end up choosing, use it moderately and sparingly.


ADM xx

PS. This article is in no way promoting 'white sugar', this article is in fact not promoting any type of sugar. Ultimately, you can choose to use any sugar you like, but make sure you still treat it as a sugar. (FYI - the way you should treat sugar is by having it very minimally, or none at all).

Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian/Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.

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