Coconut sugar and coconut palm sugar are the same thing – it just comes down to what you prefer to call it. Whatever you choose to call it, coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar is a lower glycemic index sugar (more on that soon) that can be used interchangeably with other sugars in cooking, baking, and other uses.
How can you use this caramel-tasting sweetener that looks like brown sugar? We’ll answer those questions plus explain how coconut sugar is made in the first place in this article!
How they’re made – coconut sugar vs coconut palm sugar
Spoiler alert – coconut sugar and coconut palm sugar are the exact same thing, so they’re made the same way! People usually call coconut sugar just that – coconut sugar – but it can also be referred to as coconut palm sugar.
Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees, not the coconut itself. To make coconut sugar, the flower blossoms of the coconut palm tree are cut into to extract the nectar, which is the sweet-tasting part. (Make sure you get great-quality coconut sugar whenever baking!)
The nectar from the coconut flower blossoms is then mixed with water and boiled to remove the extra liquid, which forms a syrup. The syrup from the coconut flower nectar is dried and crystalized, giving the end product of golden-brown coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar is generally produced from older coconut trees that don’t produce many coconuts anymore. This helps farmers maximize the yield from their coconut trees even when there aren’t coconuts on them anymore since the coconut flowers/nectar are where mature coconuts would usually stem from.
What about palm sugar?
The term ‘palm sugar’ refers to the sugar obtained from any palm tree, not just coconut palms. Other types of palm trees that can produce palm sugar include:
- Palmyra palm
- Date palm
- Nipa palm
- Sugar palm
So to clarify – coconut palm sugar/coconut sugar is a type of palm sugar. Palm sugar is a broader classification of sugar derived from the sap of palm trees, and includes more than just coconut palm sugar!
What is coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar used for?
Coconut sugar can be used in place of regular white sugar in cooking, baking, sweetening beverages, or anywhere else you’d use regular sugar.
Coconut sugar is considered added sugar just like cane sugar, honey, agave nectar, and other sweeteners. That means that even though it’s natural, it’s still high in sugar and should be eaten in moderation.
Are there any benefits to using coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar?
How might coconut sugar be a better alternative to other sweeteners? Let’s look at a few considerations.
- Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index (GI) than table sugar (refined/white sugar). The glycemic index measures how quickly a food or substance raises your blood sugar levels. Coconut sugar’s GI is 54, while table sugar’s GI ranges from 55-84.
This means that coconut sugar, when substituted in equal amounts for table sugar, might raise blood sugar less sharply than table sugar.
- While the trace vitamin and mineral content isn’t significant, coconut sugar has higher amounts of nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and iron than brown sugar. However, the amounts are so low that you likely won’t obtain any benefits by eating coconut sugar to get those nutrients since it’s high in sugar.
- Coconut sugar is described as having a strong caramel taste, which might be desired for certain recipes or taste preferences. In addition, coconut sugar is described as being less sweet than table sugar, which can appeal to those who don’t like overly-sweet foods and drinks.
Comparison of coconut sugar vs. other popular sweeteners
How does coconut sugar/coconut palm sugar compare to other types of sweeteners? Check out this table for a summary!
|(Servings are 8 g/approx. 1 tsp.)||Coconut sugar||Cane sugar||Honey||Agave nectar||Brown sugar|
|Total fat||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Total carbohydrates||8 g||8 g||6.5 g||6.1 g||8 g|
|Total sugars||8 g||8 g||6.5 g||6.1 g||8 g|
|Protein||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g||0 g|
Coconut sugar undergoes very little processing, so it can be considered unrefined sugar!
Coconut sugar isn’t considered keto because it is a source of carbohydrates and sugar – the same amount as table sugar, in fact.
Any type of sugar in excess can promote inflammation in your body. Due to its lower glycemic index, coconut sugar is less likely to spike your blood sugar compared to table sugar, so theoretically it may result in less inflammation when comparing the two in equal amounts.