Question About Coconut Sugar

Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC answers a question from a reader on the use of coconut sugar.

Question: I found coconut sugar in the store yesterday. Can you tell me how it relates to blood sugars? It says it's a low g I sugar. Can you tell me a little about it?

Answer: Opinions about coconut sugar are mixed. While it's true that coconut sugar contains more nutrients than cane sugar (notably iron, zinc, potassium and potassium, it also contains about the same amount of calories (15 per teaspoon) and carbohydrates (4 carbs per teaspoon) as cane sugar.

In terms of Glycemic Index, table sugar is listed at 60 and coconut sugar is listed at 35.

Some well-known physicians--including Dr. Oz--are very supportive of the switch from table sugar to coconut palm sugar, but others caution that the consumer should treat coconut sugar in the same way as cane sugar: with caution. Some products boasting that they contain coconut sugar also contain cane sugar, so buyers should be circumspect.

Meanwhile, proponents of coconut sugar state that it is fructose-free, but coconut sugar is actually 70-80% sucrose, which is in itself 50% fructose!

In the end, most experts seem to agree that although coconut sugar may have a lower glycemic index and help to avoid the "sugar crash" that cane sugar can cause, it should be used with caution, discretion and moderation in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.