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Diabetics must pay special attention to the quality of their diet, it is a key aspect in prevention, control and is even a factor that can reverse some cases of type 2 diabetes. Although there are valuable dietary recommendations to consider in a diabetes eating plan, monitoring your carbohydrate and sugar intake is simply essential. Therefore, more and more people are looking for alternatives to regular sugar in the hope of reducing risks and complications. While there are numerous substitute sweetener options, one of the most popular options is coconut palm sugar.
Coconut palm sugar comes from the sap of the coconut palm, in this process the sugar is extracted from the palm by heating it until the moisture evaporates. After processing, sugar has a caramel color and taste similar to brown sugar, which makes it suitable for use in many recipes. In addition, derived from the undeniable popularity of coconut in recent months, many naturopathic trends have focused on recommending the consumption of products made with coconut.
It is well known that diabetics must absolutely monitor their entire sugar intake for the day, including coconut palm sugar. When a person has diabetes, their body does not make enough insulin or does not use insulin correctly. Insulin allows the body to use sugar or glucose for energy. When insulin doesn’t work properly, sugar stays in the bloodstream instead of entering cells for use. When this happens, blood glucose levels can become too high. In the short term, this can lead to thirst, the need to urinate more often, tiredness, and the risk of developing a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. In the long term, it can cause damage to the entire body.
By now we all know that one of the main measures to control type 2 diabetes is to make lifestyle adjustments through good control of diet and physical activity. They are determining aspects to control blood sugar levels. In addition, in some cases the consumption of medications is required and the entire strategy must always be supervised by a doctor.
Limiting your intake of processed carbohydrates is one of the top recommendations for limiting sugar intake, and limiting table sugar is a wonderful way to start. The good news is that replacing table sugar with coconut sugar can help. Its caloric intake is one of the issues that attracts the most attention, however we have to say that coconut sugar contains the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as regular cane sugar. Both products are mainly made up of sugars, which are simple carbohydrates.
Sugars are present in many foods, either as a natural or added ingredient. They provide vital energy to the body, but can be harmful in large amounts. Analyzing the composition of coconut sugar, we discovered that it is a product that contains: glucose, fructose, sucrose, which comprises both fructose and glucose. However, the proportion of these sugars is different in cane sugar and coconut sugar.
– Sucrose: This type of sugar is present in many foods. The added sweeteners in processed foods, desserts, candy, and beverages contain the highest amount of sucrose. Coconut sugar contains less sucrose than some sugars, however according to a study published in the journal Nature it is still 70-80% sucrose. Heating sucrose causes it to break down into fructose and glucose. During digestion, the body also breaks this sugar down into the individual components fructose and glucose.
– Fructose: Fructose is a natural sugar found in fruit. Fruits also contain other nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which is why whole fruits are a healthy dessert option for most people, including those with diabetes. The most important thing is to control your intake, since naturally fruits are a source of carbohydrates. The thing about fructose is that food manufacturers also add fructose to sweeteners, like high fructose corn syrup. This is a common ingredient in many processed foods such as sweetened yogurts, ice creams, candy, desserts, dressings, soups, saltes and a long list. Studies suggest that a high consumption of these types of products increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Despite having a lower glycemic index (GI) when found in fruits, researchers believe that fructose can cause problems when people consume it as pure sugar or as added sugar in processed foods. This is especially true for people with diabetes.
– Glucose: Coconut sugar contains mainly sucrose, but it also contains small amounts of glucose. Glucose is the form of sugar that the body absorbs most quickly, so the more glucose you consume, the more likely you are to experience a sudden spike in blood sugar.
Can people with diabetes eat coconut sugar?
Aside from its sugar content, other factors that can affect the choice of sugar for diabetics and one of the most important is the glycemic index. According to the American Diabetes Association, this measurement classifies the sugar content in foods under the following scheme:
- Low if 55 or younger
- Medium if 56–69
- High if 70 or over
About coconut sugar, it is considered healthier because it has a lower glycemic index score. Eating foods with a low glycemic index will not raise blood sugar levels as much as eating high ones. And that is why they are the best option: they have a low sugar content, the sugar or carbohydrates they contain are in a form that takes longer to digest, the food contains other nutrients, such as fiber, that can delay the absorption of sugar .
Comparative glycemic index scores for sugars and sweeteners:
– Coconut palm sugar: 54
– Honey: from 35 to 87, depending on the type
– White sugar: 58 to 84
– Cane sugar: 50
– Glucose: from 96-114, depending on the type
In general, coconut sugar has a relatively low GI score, compared to other sweeteners. Although it is a good alternative compared to others, it is important to mention that, as with all sources of sugar, it is essential to consume it with great caution. Also, just because it has a somewhat low glycemic index score does not mean that it is healthy and less over-the-top.
According to experts at the Joslin Diabetes Center, There are many basic factors to consider when processing sugar:
– Individual factors, such as age and levels of physical activity.
– The fiber content of a food, its preparation and processing.
– What other foods a person eats at the same time.
– The rate of digestion
Therefore, the best vision is to treat coconut palm sugar like any other sweetener, including table sugar, remembering to include your calorie and carbohydrate content when planning meals. It is also important to check the nutritional labels when buying any food.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.