Although coconut sugar (Jaggery) has been known to the peoples of Asia for more than a millennium, only in the last twenty years has it gained popularity as a natural sweetener. However, before adding it to your diet, it’s important to understand where it comes from, the potential benefits of coconut sugar, and the effects it can have on your body.
So what is coconut sugar?
Coconut sugar, as the name suggests, comes from the fruit of the coconut palm. It is scientifically known that Cocos nucifera, a tree grows in various regions of the world, but it is especially comfortable in Asian countries and the tropics.
This type of natural sugar is obtained from the sap of the coconut palm blossom. A small incision is made on the inflorescence, which allows you to drain the juice into special containers. Then the juice must be heated, and for this it is left in the sun until most of the water in it evaporates. If you constantly stir the juice, it will speed up the process of its thickening and caramelization. When the moisture is completely gone, the juice is moved to the shade for cooling, where it naturally crystallizes, turning into the familiar sweet mass that can be broken into pieces for later use or ground into powder for the preparation of any culinary dish. But this will be discussed in our next article.
Due to the simple process of harvesting and minimal processing, coconut sugar retains a significant amount of nutrients from the flower sap, which include zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, polyphenolic compounds, fiber, vitamin C and other antioxidants. Compared to cane sugar, Jaggery contains 2 times more iron and sulfur, 10 times more zinc and 20 times more nitrogen. However, the level of fructose in coconut sugar is quite high, which should be taken into account by athletes, fans of healthy fats, as well as people suffering from diabetes and overweight.
In general, coconut sap is considered a healthier sweetener than regular white sugar, however, it should be used wisely and in moderation.
Health benefits of Coconut sugar
There is a lot of evidence for the health benefits of coconut sugar, including its ability to:
- regulate insulin levels in diabetes
- strengthen the immune system
- strengthen bones
- lower blood pressure
- help in the fight against excess weight
- improve mood.
Coconut sugar and excess weight
When the liver processes fructose (you get it from fruit or when you eat honey, sugar, and syrups), it releases triglycerides, which are a form of fat. With lower fructose levels than regular white sugar or corn syrup, coconut sugar is still less likely to contribute to fat deposits.
Jaggery and diabetes
The glycemic index of coconut sugar is 35, which is considered the lowest among similar products. A few years ago, the most useful sweetener was considered to be cane sugar, whose glycemic index is 68. This index shows the rate of breakdown of the product. The lower it is, the more useful the product.
Here is a list of many popular sweeteners on the market, along with their glycemic index:
Agave syrup 15-30
Coconut sugar 35
Organic honey 35-58
Organic sugar 47
Maple syrup 54
Cane sugar 68
Corn syrup 75
White sugar 80
I can’t help but think that since xylitol and agave are very low on the glycemic index, maybe they should be used? The problem is that xylitol and agave syrup are obtained through serious chemical and heat treatment of the original product. The choice of sweetener determines not only the glycemic index. Perfect coconut sugar is produced at a low temperature by evaporating coconut sap and obtaining crystals from it. Thanks to this, the enzymes and useful substances in it remain intact.
Improves blood circulation
Iron, which is part of coconut sugar, can have a positive effect on blood circulation, which can increase oxygenation and the availability of nutrients in the body. Iron is a key component in red blood cells, and without adequate amounts, you can suffer from symptoms of anemia, muscle weakness, headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems.
However, this does not mean that you should consume a kilogram of coconut sugar a day to improve blood composition. No way! Just treat this natural product as another step towards a healthy lifestyle.
The unique form of coconut sugar fiber (inulin) is directly related to liver health and lowering the level of “harmful” cholesterol in the body. By lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL cholesterol, this sugar can help minimize the risk of heart disease, prevent atherosclerosis symptoms, and prevent plaque build-up
Slows down oxidizing processes in the body
Polyphenolic compounds and phytonutrients in coconut sugar act as antioxidants that have an effect on free radicals and prevent oxidative processes in the body that can lead to chronic diseases, cancer and diabetes.
Regulates blood pressure
The amount of potassium in coconut sugar may be minimal, but it is enough to affect blood pressure. Potassium acts as a vasodilator, relieves tension in blood vessels and arteries, and prevents stress on the cardiovascular system, including reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Improves bone health
Jaggery contains a number of important minerals, including zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and copper, which play an important role in building bone mineral density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis at any age.
Inulin, the specialized form of fiber in coconut sugar we have already mentioned, is a valuable probiotic capable of balancing the level of bacteria in the stomach and stimulating the activity of bifidobacteria. This improves the work of the gastrointestinal tract, and also contributes to the creation of a healthy intestinal environment.
Strengthens the immune system
The presence of vitamin C in coconut sugar really affects the body’s immune system, promoting the production of white blood cells – the body’s first line of defense against foreign bacteria and infectious agents.
Reduces the feeling of anxiety
Some studies have shown that regular, moderate consumption of coconut sugar has a positive effect on neurotransmitters and the overall hormonal background of the body, reducing symptoms of depression. And all because this sugar contains a very useful substance – inositol. When ingested, it reduces anxiety. In addition, inositol helps to reduce the consumption of painkillers, which allows it to be used in traditional medicine.
Increases energy levels
Compared to regular sugar, it takes longer for the body to process the micro- and macroelements contained in coconut sugar to obtain the energy needed by the cells. This means more consistent and long-term energy cellular exchange.
So, a cup of morning tea drunk with a piece of coconut sugar will not only have an exquisite caramel-floral taste, but will also provide you with a reliable level of energy for a long period of time.
You can buy 100% natural organic coconut sugar, of course, in Masala. When buying coconut sugar on other sites, in supermarkets or in Ecomarkets, it is important to make sure that the manufacturer offers exactly 100% natural coconut sugar, which should be stated on the package. In order to make the product cheaper, unscrupulous manufacturers mix coconut sugar with brown sugar, thus reducing the coconut content to 65%. Sugar is many times cheaper, besides, the average buyer is unlikely to feel the difference.