[Photo Courtesy of Spencer’s Market]
If you’ve done any research of your own on coconut palm sugar, you may have come across this article, The Truth About Coconut Palm Sugar: The Other Side of the Story or this one, Coconut Palm Sugar: Friend or Foe, both of which raise concern over the “health” benefits of CPS, with the latter having a somewhat more positive take on the matter. To round it out, here is an article by Gnosis Chocolates advocating it as a sustainable, healthy sweetener of choice. As with anything, there are multiple sides to this story.
Basically, there are four main reasons coconut palm sugar is being touted as a healthier alternative to granulated sugar: (1) low glycemic index (simply meaning it won’t cause as much of a blood sugar spike); (2) more nutrient rich (minerals and B vitamins); (3) minimally processed (only heated to evaporate the water); and (4) sustainable (coconut palm trees grow almost anywhere in the tropics and do not require much tending).
So what do I think about all of this? Let me begin by stating that sugar is always still sugar, so I do my best to reduce my overall consumption, satiating my sweet tooth with fruits and other naturally sweet whole foods instead of constantly chowing down on things with added sugar. Yes, I know, those still have sugars, but they occur naturally in those whole foods and I am also getting the other whole food nutrients at the same time. And when I do use sweetener, for instance in all my homemade sweet treats, I use just a touch so you know you’re eating dessert, but not enough that you have a sugar high afterwards.
I appreciate that coconut palm sugar may (and hopefully is) a healthier alternative and I will most likely be using it along with honey and dates to sweeten my treats. Most importantly, though, is that the way I think about sugar is the same stance I take for “dieting” (as read in “Health: The Diet Conundrum”): moderation is key.
Since I purchased coconut palm sugar, I’ve only used it a couple of times, but love it already! The lovely caramel notes make it perfect for baked goods like these Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies I made on Tuesday. I’m looking forward to having a healthier alternative to granulated sugar that I can use in my baked goods since honey doesn’t always bake quite as well. It also worked nicely in our cabbage salad last weekend.
For a list of other natural sweeteners and their benefits, check out Eat Naked Now’s post, “Know Your Sweets: Natural Sweeteners 101.”
Do you use natural sweeteners?