Just when you thought they couldn't make anything else out of coconut, enter a new natural sweetener: coconut sugar.
Coconut sugar is made by dehydrating the sap of the coconut palm tree. This natural sweetener is granulated, like conventional sugar, but has a golden brown color and darker flavor profile.
The biggest advantage to coconut sugar isn't the flavor — it's this natural sugar's low glycemic index.
The glycemic index measures how quickly a food raises your blood sugar levels. When you eat a food with a high glycemic index, blood sugar rises, and your body produces insulin to control it.
For most healthy people, a spike in blood sugar means nothing worse than an inevitable sugar crash as your body releases insulin. For diabetics and people with other illnesses, however, these spikes and drops can have much more serious health consequences.
Coconut sugar has another advantage over table sugar: inulin. Not to be confused with insulin, inulin is actually a type of dietary fiber that feeds the good bacteria (probiotics) in your digestive tract. A 2009 study published in the Alternative Medical Review found that inulin can boost intestinal health, help the body control blood sugar, and even possibly prevent colon cancer.
All in all, coconut sugar is not a nutritional powerhouse, and still contains fructose and glucose, but still remains a better option than regular refined sugar.
You can use coconut sugar the way you would use regular white sugar — to sweeten coffee, in baked goods and any other recipes that call for sugar. Coconut sugar does have a richer, darker flavor profile than regular sugar, more like brown sugar or cane sugar.