What is it?
Coconut sugar is an alternative sweetener, made from the sap of the coconut palm tree.
Why haven’t I heard of it until now?
Like lots of new health crazes and superfoods, coconut sugar has been used for centuries by people in South-East Asia. We've only just realised its benefits over your standard white sugar in recent years, and it’s fast taking over the sweetener aisle in health-food shops.
Is it good for me?
Sugar is sugar, but this is a pretty good alternative to normal sugar: verifiable data is still coming in, but it seems that coconut sugar retains a lot of nutrients from the palm tree, such as iron, zinc, calcium and potassium, as well as some antioxidants, and a substance called inulin.
Inulin apparently slows down glucose absorption, meaning coconut sugar has a lower GI (apparently just 35 compared to white sugar’s 60). However, it still has a lot of fructose, so it doesn’t mean you can now just start loading it into your coffee.
The other benefit is that it is considered one of the most sustainable sweetener on the market, meaning switching could help the planet as well as your blood sugar levels.
How much will it cost?
You can buy a 500g bag of coconut sugar in health food stores for about €5.00, so more than Siucra, but not certainly an unreasonable amount of money.
What does it taste like?
Coconut sugar is has a very similar flavour to light brown sugars, so it’s perfect for hot drinks, though it’s variable in flavour because it’s not highly processed, so natural differences emerge between batches. It also has a low melt temperature, but high burn temperature, so it’s great for cooking with.