Of recent, people have become very aware and sensitive to what they eat. Most people are trying to eat healthier food options to help improve their health.
Coconut sugar is one of those healthy options that you can rely on when we talk about sugar.
We all know the effects of too much sugar on the body, and our doctors advise us to eat less white and processed sugars and go for something more natural and more healthy.
Coconut sugar is used by a lot of people these days to replace white and brown sugars.
First of all, what is coconut sugar?
I won’t be surprised if you think coconut sugar is made from coconut, as the name implies; well, this is not true. Coconut sugar is an extract from coconut palm trees, and it is sometimes referred to as coconut palm sugar.
The sap that is gotten from the coconut palm is heated until almost all the liquid evaporates. The leftover product is what is known as coconut sugar, and this sugar is hardly processed.
What makes it a better option than white and brown sugar?
Coconut sugar is much healthier because it contains less glycemic content. Now the glycemic content in sugar can increase your blood sugar levels. So the more you consume sugars with high glycemic levels, the higher the chances of you getting high blood sugar levels, leading to diabetes.
White sugar has a glycemic index of 65, while Brown sugar has a glycemic index of 64. On the other hand, Coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 35, making it the best and safest option among the other two.
Many people’s awareness has been raised to the advantages of coconut sugar, and it is in high demand. Most people who bake prefer to use coconut sugar which is safer. If you are reading this article, I am sure it is because you have heard about the positive qualities of coconut sugar.
Now there are times when you might run out of coconut sugar, and you can’t get some at the supermarket. Well, you do not have to worry or run back to using white or brown sugar. There are so many options and substitute that can replace coconut sugar.
They might not offer the exact qualities and benefits that coconut sugar offers. Still, they have some similar characteristics, and they are a closer and better option than white sugar. This article will explore some of these options that you can use as substitutes for coconut sugar.
Stevia is a plant and a natural sweetener and substitute for coconut sugar. This food sweetener has no calories at all, and it is much sweeter than sugar. It has one of the closest resemblances I taste to coconut sugar.
This means that you can use the same quantity of stevia to replace the quantity stated in a recipe for coconut sugar. Although this plant has no calories, most people believe that it should be eaten in moderation.
The exciting thing is that you can grow this food sweetener in your garden and extract the sweet taste by yourself without buying it in the market. Doing it yourself ensures that you get the real stuff, and you do not get stevia sugar that is adulterated and combined with other things.
You get the sweet sugar extracts from the leaves of stevia, and you can get this sugar in liquid or powdered form. Using stevia continuously, in the long run, might not be helpful for your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
We need some amount of calories in the body for the body’s system to function correctly. Stevia contains zero calories, and also a steady consumption of stevia can lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure beyond the required amount for the body. So it is advisable to switch it with other natural sugars from time to time.
If you are interested in this option, here is a link to making your own stevia extract at home.
2. Date Sugar
If you have ever eaten this fruit, I am sure you wouldn’t be surprised to find it on this list. Instead, I would be astonished if dates were not an option for coconut sugar; this fruit is naturally sweet and has a great flavor that makes you get addicted to them.
Date fruit is gotten from dates plant, which belongs to the palm family. This fruit is widely cultivated across South Asia, the Middle East, and Northern Africa. It is cultivated for its edible and economic benefits.
Dates are consumed as dried fruits, and they are sweet and oval in shape. Dates have a complex flavor; they taste like a combination of fig and prune fruits with a hint of chocolate and cinnamon. The sweetness of dates becomes more concentrated as they get drier, and they are high in fruit sugar.
Even as they get drier, they still have a dense, moist texture, and date sugar is extracted from this fruit. Date sugar is nutritious and a good substitute for coconut sugar. It can be used as natural sweeteners for foods, and it is less processed than conventional sugar.
One date contains about 66 calories, which is higher than the calories in coconut sugar. They have almost the same glycemic index as coconut sugar which means that dates will less likely spike your blood sugar levels like the conventional sugar.
To use it in food and other baking recipes, you have to grind the pure dates into a fine powder without the addition of any other ingredients. Dates are a good source of nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, fiber, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin B3 and B6.
Dates contain antioxidant properties that help prevent many chronic diseases, and minerals like magnesium and potassium help keep your heart healthy. Here Is a recipe to guide you make your date sugar from the comfort of your home.
A slight downside to using date sugar as a substitute for coconut sugar is that date sugar is not crystalized. Although it will perform the task of sweetening your recipe, it will not dissolve as coconut sugar will. So you might find particles in your recipe that you wouldn’t have expected.
3. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is one of the most popular natural food sweeteners used as a substitute in many recipes. Maple syrup is a natural sugar option from the sap of maple species trees like black maple, red maple, and sugar maple trees.
During cold weather or in cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and root. This starch is converted to a sugary sap during late winter and spring. To gain access to this sap, holes are drilled into the trunks of the trees to collect this sweet sap.
This sap is collected into a container, and it is boiled until the water evaporates; you are left with a thick syrup. Next, all you need to do is filter the syrup to do away with the impurities, and your sugary syrup is ready for consumption.
This natural sugar is much healthier than conventional sugar, and it is a perfect substitute for coconut sugar. Many people use this syrup as a spread for bread and pancakes. Maple syrup has high nutritional value.
It contains potassium, iron, zinc, manganese, and calcium necessary for the proper functioning of the body. Although it has many health benefits, it would still be advisable to consume this natural sugar in moderation.
Maple syrup contains 52 calories per one-tablespoon serving. It has a glycemic index of 54 which is higher than the glycemic index of coconut sugar but lower than that of conventional sugar. This means that it is a healthier option than regular sugar. Here is a homemade recipe for maple syrup; you can check it out if you are interested in making your maple syrup.
Sucanat is a type of sugar that is gotten from sugar cane. White conventional sugar is also gotten from sugar cane, but the method of extraction and processing is different in both types of sugar. During the processing of conventional white sugar, the sugar cane is stripped of its molasses to get the white sugar.
On the other hand, sucunat retains its natural molasses during processing, and this accounts for the brown color and flavor of sucunat. Sucunat is healthier than white sugar because it contains less sucrose. Also, its natural molasses, and it is richer in potassium, calcium, iron, and b vitamins. Sucunat has a similar color and taste to coconut sugar and makes it a good substitute.
The difference between coconut sugar and sucunat lies in the texture. Sucunat is more solid and tougher, so you might need extra measures to make it melt if you are using it as a substitute for coconut sugar.
The sweetness in sucunat equals that of coconut sugar, so you can use the exact measurement for sucunat as stated for coconut sugar.
5. Raw Honey
Honey is a sweet syrup gotten from bees, and it is used as a natural food sweetener for a lot of dishes. Raw honey is stored in honeycombs by bees, and humans extract it for their culinary and health benefits.
Raw honey contains beeswax, dead bees, and bee pollen, and these have to be taken out of the honey syrup to make the honey purified for consumption. Honey has been an essential ingredient in the culinary world, and it has been used for thousands of years.
Honey is a good substitute for coconut oil because of its taste and health benefits. Honey contains 64 calories in a tablespoon serving and a glycemic index of between 50 to 60. The glycemic index in honey is higher than that in coconut oil, but it is lower than that of conventional white and brown sugar.
This makes honey a better option than white sugar, although you still need to use honey in moderation. Honey is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. These properties reduce your chances of getting chronic diseases.
You can use honey to heal wounds and burns, reduce the duration of diarrhea, relieve cough and cold symptoms. You can use honey to remedy bad breath, vision problems, stomach ulcers, jaundice, obesity, arthritis, hangover, and high blood pressure.
6. Agave Syrup
Agave syrup is a food sweetener made from different species of agave plants. It is sometimes referred to as agave nectar, and it is used frequently as a diabetic-friendly sweetener. The sap is harvested from the agave plant and is heated with enzymes to produce agave syrup.
The glycemic index in agave syrup is 30, which is lower than that of coconut sugar; this means fewer chances of having increased blood sugar when you consume this syrup. Although agave syrup has a lower glycemic index, it has a high fructose content which can be detrimental to health when consumed in large properties.
Every cell in your body can metabolize glucose, but only your liver can metabolize fructose. This means that a continual intake of too much fructose can overwork the liver and cause havoc and contribute to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and insulin resistance.
When your liver is overloaded with fructose, it starts converting it to fat, and when this fat becomes lodged in your liver, it can cause fatty liver disease. Also, agave syrup has little or no health benefits.
When the agave sap is processed, it is open to high heat and enzymes, and these factors drastically reduce the health components present in agave sap. Agave syrup might come in handy as a substitute for coconut sugar, but it would be the last option that I will use in any recipe.
7. Demerara Sugar
Demerara is partially refined sugar made from sugar cane. This sugar is less processed than white sugar and contains more molasses. Demerara sugar has large grains with a crunchy texture, and it is mainly used for baking.
Because of its texture, it is mainly sprinkled on baked goods like cake as a form of decoration. The caramel flavor and light brown color of demerara make it similar to coconut sugar, and it is a good substitute for coconut sugar.
Demerara does not undergo a lot of processing like white sugar, and because of this, it retains some nutrients and vitamins present in the sugar cane. Demerara is not considered a natural sugar because processing takes away its natural form.
Demerara has a high sucrose level like white sugar, and they both contain an equal amount of calories. This means that high consumption of this sugar can increase your blood sugar levels, leading to chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.
This sugar has the same amount of sweetness as coconut sugar; hence you can use the same quantity in a recipe as prescribed for coconut sugar. Although Coconut sugar and demerara have a close appearance, the former is more healthy than demerara, which means you need to consume demerara in moderation.
Piloncillo is a food sweetener gotten from pure can sugar. It is raw sugar that has not been processed, and it is also referred to as Mexican brown sugar, panela, and panocha. It has a golden brown color and a flavor similar to that of molasses, and it has a hint of both sweet and bitter flavor.
Although piloncillo has a flavor similar to molasses, it does not contain molasses. To make piloncillo, you have to boil the sugar cane juice until it becomes a thick crystalline syrup. This syrup is poured into cone shape containers and allowed to harden.
This sugar is more expensive than brown sugar, and you can get it in two varieties. The Blanco variety is milder and subtle in flavor, and the other variety is Oscura which is more like molasses and richer in flavor.
Piloncillo is a good substitute for coconut sugar, and the interesting about this sugar is that it can be used as a sweetener and as a spice. It is used in a lot of dessert recipes and beverages.
Piloncillo is a healthy organic sugar, and it is filled with minerals and vitamins. It contains vitamin A, C, D, E, and other minerals like magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Tagatose is a natural food sweetener found in small quantities, and It can be extracted from dairy products, plants, and fruits. Tagatose is a good substitute for coconut sugar because of its health benefits and advantages.
Tagatose contains lower calories, and it contributes only 1.5 calories per gram which is relatively low. And it has a glycemic index of 3, remarkably lower than all the other options on this list. This means that tagatose sugar has little or no contribution to the increase of your blood sugar levels.
This sugar is greatly used in low carbohydrate dishes; it is white in appearance and is odorless. It is a crystalline powder that can dissolve when added to a liquid. And although it has a white color, it gives a brown color when added to baked goods. It is a good substitute for coconut sugar because it offers a rich caramel malt flavor when used in baking.
Tagatose sugar is mainly used as a sweetener in food products like chocolate, candies, baked goods, cereals, frozen dairy products, and fillings. Tagatose has many health benefits that make it better than other sweeteners.
It is a tooth-friendly sugar, and it does not promote cavities; it contains prebiotic properties which provide your gut with beneficial bacteria. Tagatose also possesses properties that lower the blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
10. Monk Fruit Sweetener
Monk fruit sugar is a natural sugar extracted from monk fruit; this sweetener is sweeter than conventional sugar and contains no calories. This sweetener is created from the crushed seeds of the monk fruit.
The juice of the crushed fruit is collected and dried, and it is made into powder form for use. This sweetener contains natural sugars in the form of glucose and fructose, but the sweetness of this fruit is not gotten from these natural sugars.
The sweet quality of monk fruit is gotten from its antioxidant property known as mogrosides. This mogorside is separated from the juice during processing, which means that monk fruit sugar does not contain fructose or glucose.
Because of the sweetness intensity, it is advisable to use this sugar in lower quantities than the quantity prescribed for coconut sugar. It would be better to start by adding small quantities, and then you can increase it if you think it is necessary. This will prevent you from making your recipe too sugary. It is a versatile sugar that you can use in desserts, baking, beverages, smoothies, and sauces.
This sugar has zero glycemic index, which means that it cannot increase your blood sugar levels.
Erythritol is a low-carb and zero sugar food sweetener, and it is gotten from fermented foods like beer, wine, and cheese. This sugar is also extracted from some foods watermelon, grapes, mushrooms, and pears. It is sometimes referred to as sugar alcohol.
This sugar is healthy and delicious, and it is one of the safest options on this list when it comes to food sweeteners. Erythritol is used for sugar-free recipes and products like baked goods, ice cream, candy, gum, and drinks.
This sugar has a minimal effect on your blood sugar levels, and it is an excellent option for those with diabetes who are looking for a way to reduce their blood sugar levels. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharin are often referred to as sugar alcohol, just like Erythritol, making people doubt if Erythritol is safe. Well, the answer is that Erythritol is a much safer option than the other two artificial sweeteners.
This sweetener is a much healthier option. It can help improve your oral health, it helps with your goals of losing weight, and it can help you reduce your carb intake.
There are many options here that you can use as substitutes in place of coconut sugar. Some of the options listed here are more healthy and readily available than others. I hope that you can find an option that works best for your recipe.