Is coconut sugar healthier than regular sugar?

Coconut sugar is known for having a lower glycemic index and being less processed than white sugar. Does either matter?

“Pure & unrefined,” crows the Madhava Coconut Sugar bag.

Coconut sugar and white sugar each starts with a liquid (coconut palm sap or sugar cane juice) that’s then boiled down to form crystals.

Coconut sugar is brown because it skips white sugar’s final refining step. But would you call that unrefined? Hardly.

Coconut sugar has “naturally occurring nutrients magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and amino acids,” adds Madhava. The amounts per teaspoon? Negligible.

Nutiva Coconut Sugar boasts that it has a “lower glycemic index than cane sugar.” That means that it causes less of a spike in blood sugar levels than sucrose (table sugar). But fructose is lower than both, and it’s no health food. What’s more, studies that feed people low-glycemic foods don’t find much benefit anyway.

Bottom line: Coconut sugar is no better than honey, agave, maple, turbinado, or any other added sugar.

Photo: Madhava.

The information in this article first appeared in the May 2019 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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