Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Coconut Sugar

One of the ingredients you'll see me use is coconut sugar. This is not to be confused with palm sugar, which is different. I use Coconut Crystals by Coconut Secret. Is it still sugar? Yes, but there are a few reasons for using it in paleo style cocktails.
Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index (35), very low fructose, and a better macronutrient profile than other types of sugar. It's also raw, unrefined, organic, and gluten-free. Lower GI means the carbs are digested and absorbed more slowly, usually resulting in a lower insulin demand. We want to minimize fructose due to it's useless, fattening nature and the damage it does to our livers (the booze doesn't need any help with that). Coconut sugar is made from coconut blossom sap, which is a little as 1.5% fructose. Compare that to agave syrup, which is can be up to 90% fructose, cane sugar at around 50%, and even honey which has up to 40%.
Coconut sugar can be made used about 1:1 in place of sugar, and makes a pretty good simple syrup. It will make your drinks darker due to its brown color, so some of the cocktails made with it will not look as pretty as their cane sugar counterparts.
Why don't I use artificial sweeteners? First of all, they sound nasty, and I try to use as many natural ingredients as possible. I'm no doctor, so I don't know anything about whether they are cancer causing, fattening, or anything along those lines. It has been shown, however, that anything sweet, including calorie/sugar free sweeteners, still trigger an insulin response from the body. If you are going to get it anyway, you might as well get it from something with nutrients in it. You rarely get something for nothing, anyway.
At the moment, I don't really know much about stevia leaves, but I am looking into them, and into how well they will work in cocktail recipes. Stay tuned.