Sugar of all forms is best to either avoid or consume in moderation. When you’re on a Paleo diet, most sweeteners are off the menu because our ancestors didn’t have access to them during that time. However, many Paleo diet enthusiasts swear by coconut sugar, but is this ingredient really Paleo?
Coconut sugar can be considered Paleo, as it would have been available in some form during the Paleolithic era. However, as with all sweeteners, coconut sugar should be used in moderation, as it raises your glucose levels like regular sugar and other sweeteners do.
Just because a food or ingredient is allowed on a certain diet doesn’t mean you should eat unlimited amounts of it. This article will go into more detail about coconut palm sugar (sometimes also called jaggery) and discuss why coconut sugar is still sugar. Let’s get started!
Is Coconut Palm Sugar Paleo?
Coconut palm sugar is Paleo, as it’s the same thing as coconut sugar. It would have been available to our ancestors during the Paleolithic era, and they would have found a way to eat it. However, it was most likely not found in the forms of sugar it is today.
The Paleo diet only includes foods that were consumed by humans during the Paleolithic era, before farming started as a practice, which explains why most sweeteners are not part of the diet. They’re either:
- A product of farming.
- Processed in a way unavailable to our Paleo ancestors.
Unlike most of these sweeteners, coconut sugar comes from the coconut palm tree and can be accessed by tapping the tree’s stem and collecting the sap. It is then dried to leave a solid mass of coconut sugar. (source: ASEAN Food Journal)
Knowing the origins and the relatively simple process, it’s safe to assume that our ancestors would have had access to coconut sugar, making it one of the few sweeteners acceptable in a Paleo diet.
Today, there’s more to the process of coconut sugar production than what was available to our ancestors. The primitive methods of collecting and drying the sap are replaced by modernized versions that bring you coconut sugar as you know it.
Nevertheless, coconut sugar can be appropriate for your Paleo diet, so feel free to use it in beverages and baking recipes, but in moderation only.
Is Coconut Sugar Still Classed As Sugar?
Coconut sugar is still classed as sugar, but it’s a bit less processed than regular sugar. It comes from the sap of the coconut plant and retains more fiber and antioxidants than regular sugar. However, it’s high in calories and can still raise your blood glucose levels.
It’s reasonable to classify coconut sugar as sugar because it is similar in composition to other types of sugar. Almost 80% of coconut sugar is sucrose, which is just another name for regular white sugar. (source: WebMD)
The rest is what makes the difference between coconut sugar and other types of sweeteners.
If we compare coconut sugar with regular cane sugar, we’ll see that the former is considered a “natural alternative” to the latter and is definitely less processed. Because it comes from the coconut tree, coconut sugar retains some amounts of nutrients like iron and potassium, unlike regular sugar. (source: Healthline)
Additionally, coconut sugar has a slightly lower glycemic index at 54, while regular sugar has a glycemic index of 65. Coconut sugar might impact your blood glucose levels a little bit less than sugar, but it’s still not terribly healthy for you.
As with other sweeteners, you should be careful and use coconut sugar in moderation. It’s still mainly sucrose and can be a factor that contributes to diabetes, heart disease, and other problems. (source: British Dental Journal)
The amount of harm that it can do outweighs any small nutritional value that it has.
You can use coconut sugar in a Paleo diet. However, it is still a type of sugar, so make sure to consume it in moderation.