Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (2023)

Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (1)

Superfoodly

Contents

  • What is coconut nectar?
  • Health benefits of coconut nectar
  • Nutrition facts
  • The problems with the perks
  • What is the glycemic index?
  • Compared to agave, maple syrup and honey
  • Is coconut nectar healthy?
Several years ago, Dr. Oz featured coconut sugar on his show and said it was “a nutritious natural sweetener” that is “low glycemic.” Now to be clear, he was telling the truth based on the data he had.

However since then, major issues have been raised about the old test from the Philippines, that presumably he and everyone else was referencing for their opinion.

Using modern and accurate testing, when you compare cane sugar vs. coconut sugar, you discover that it “was certainly not 35” for the GI value of the latter, according to The Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS). Dr. Oz never cited that number specifically, but 35 is what many food manufacturers and those in the media still claim to this very day.

Before you spend your hard-earned money on this other coconut sweetener which you may think is healthier, make sure you know the facts.

What is coconut nectar?

Also known as coconut blossom nectar, this liquid sweetener is made from the flower sap of the tree. Before the coconuts form, their thick flowering stems are tapped similar to how maple syrup is made. After this nectar is collected, it’s thickened up using partial evaporation to produce a syrup.

(Video) Coconut Nectar, The New Super Sweetener

It is fat-free since there’s no coconut oil in it. Though if you are under the assumption the nectar is sugar free, you are gravely mistaken.

Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (2)

The coconut nectar to sugar ratio can vary greatly depending on how much moisture is left in the syrup. When there’s more water, it means less sugar content per teaspoon and vice-versa. To a lesser extent, the time of year it’s harvested also affects the content.

If using nectar instead of regular sugar, here are the conversion ratios for several popular brands if you want to achieve the same taste of sweetness.

ProductCalories Per TspSugar Per TspSource
Coconut Secrets, Organic Traditional18.34.3glabel, converted from 55 calories and 13g of sugar per tbsp
Big Tree Farms, Organic Amber or Blonde295glabel
Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Syrup (same thing a nectar)21.75.3glabel, converted from 130 calories and 32g of sugar per 2 tbsp
Munkijo Organic154glabel
Coconut Merchant Organic Coconut Syrup (same thing as nectar)153.4glabel, converted from nutritional info per 100g, which is 300 calories and 68g of sugar

That last one is sold at Holland and Barrett in the UK, where they report the data per 100g.

If you compare the labels of coconut nectar vs. coconut sugar, you will see the calorie count is equal or higher for the liquid. 15 calories and 4g of sugar per teaspoon is what Nutiva’s coconut sugar measures.

When compared to normal white granulated, made from beet or cane, you will get 15 calories and 4.2g of sugar per 1 tsp. Agave clocks in at 21 and 4.7, respectively. (1) (2)

The liquid sweeteners may seem like they have higher calories and sugar content, but that has a lot to do with their weight (and density) on a spoon. You can make powder perfectly level, doing so with a thick liquid syrup is near impossible.

Health benefits of coconut nectar

  • Lower glycemic than cane sugar
  • Provides a neutral flavor of sweetness that’s comparable to white sugar
  • Contains mostly sucrose, with only 10% coming from fructose
  • Better for liver than agave syrup
  • Source of the minerals including iron, zinc, and magnesium
  • Source of vitamins B and C
  • Contains up to 17 amino acids
  • Non-GMO and usually organic
  • May assist with weight loss
  • Gluten free
  • Vegan

With perks like, you’re probably ready to buy some right this very moment!

Not so fast.

Those benefits listed we sourced from the blog of 22 Days Nutrition, which is a vegan meal delivery service most known for its link to Beyoncé. We did that intentionally to show you how the health claims made by others are technically true, but they are really providing you a skewed representation.

(Video) Is Coconut Sugar Helpful For Diabetes?

Nutrition facts

The following is what you will find on the label for Coconut Secret. For many years it was marketed as organic raw coconut nectar, however in 2017 they announced that due to quality control issues they will pasteurize it and in turn, the bottles now say “traditional” instead of raw.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 Tbsp. (15ml)
Calories55
Calories From Fat0
% Daily Value*% Daily Value
Total Fat 0g0%Vitamin D 0mcg0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%Potassium 121 mg3%
Trans Fat 0gCalcium 0mg0%
Cholesterol 0g0%Iron 0mg0%
Sodium 20mg1%Calcium 40mg4%
Total Carbs. 13g4%
Dietary Fiber 0g
Total Sugars 13g
Includes 0g Added Sugars0%
Protein 0g
*Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Tree Sap Nectar

The problems with the perks

Vitamins and minerals are in minuscule amounts. Divine Organics coconut blossom sugar provides 1% of your daily value for calcium and iron per serving. Coconut Secret only lists 121 mg (3% of DV) for potassium. B vitamins measure so small they are reported as 0% with most brands. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is similar and for the non-raw brands, even that tiny amount will get largely destroyed during the heat of pasteurization.

Amino acids are another name for protein. As you see from the nutrition facts, there are zero grams of protein per serving. Sure there are trace amounts of up to 17 amino acids, but the amounts are so trivial they don’t really matter for nutrition.

Sucrose vs. fructose is a debatable advantage. After you eat sucrose it’s quickly separated into glucose and fructose.

Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (3)

Now it is true that if you eat fructose, it’s processed by the liver. Sucrose gets absorbed in the small intestines.

It’s also true that the alarming rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) probably have something to do with too much fructose in our diets. (3)

However you can’t pigeonhole these sweet molecules into “bad for you” and “good for you” categories. There are pros and cons for each. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. The key is to consume sugars seldom and in small amounts, regardless of type.

Then we come to the elephant in the room…

What is the glycemic index?

Coconut Secret says the nectar has a GI of 35, Big Tree Farms only says its “low-glycemic verified” and the brand Wholesome is silent on the topic altogether. If the value is 35 it would qualify as a low GI food, however the only brand reporting that number doesn’t provide the source.

It’s interesting to note that Coconut Secrets also claims their coconut sugar (which they market as crystals) has a GI of 35 too, even though that number has since been discredited by newer testing.

(Video) Is coconut sugar "healthier" than other sugars?

One has to wonder if they actually conducted testing for their syrup? Or are they just citing that same 35 number that has been floating around for ages?

Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (4)The University of Sydney maintains the most extensive and continuously updated online database of GI values. They don’t have an entry for coconut syrup, nectar, or anything with a similar name.

That may surprise you but as they point out, testing GI values is more complicated than many people realize.

It requires 10+ healthy (non-diabetic) individuals who must fast, then eat a carefully measured quantity of the food, and then have their blood glucose levels measured for 2 hours after. Participants have to be recruited (and presumably paid) along with the research service. It’s not a cheap or easy test. (4)

That’s why there aren’t GI values for even more popular sweeteners, like yacon syrup, which is another one that was featured on Dr. Oz years ago. The purported superfood sweetener known as jaggery hasn’t been tested either.

Food manufacturers and marketers rarely bother to pay for proper testing like they should and instead, they seem to make glycemic claims based on little more than word of mouth info… which may or may not be accurate.

Compared to agave, maple syrup and honey

Unlike whole fruits which have fiber to slow their digestion, coconut blossom nectar is a refined sugar. It has been filtered, partially evaporated, and possibly pasteurized. It’s not Paleo and the Whole 30 diet categorizes it the same as other refined sweeteners.

The claimed benefits of coconut nectar vs. honey, maple syrup, etc. are still up for debate. There is not enough published research on coconut palm sugar and/or nectar to say whether either is better or worse for you than those other, more common sweeteners.

Glycemic Index and Load Values
SweetenerStandard Serving SizeGlycemic LoadGlycemic IndexSource
Sugar (Sucrose)10g660(5)
Coconut Sugar5g354(6)
Maple Syrup25g1054(7)
Agave (90% Fructose)10g111(8)
Honey (38% Fructose)25g1162(9)
Honey (28% Fructose)25g972(10)

Is agave better than coconut nectar?

Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (5)Probably not. The reason agave has a low GI value is because it’s almost entirely made of fructose (90% or more). The glycemic index only evaluates the glucose in food, not the fructose which is processed by the liver instead of the small intestines.

Even though agave syrup has a low GI, it’s probably one of the least healthy sweeteners since it takes a significant toll on the liver for digestion. That may contribute to fatty liver disease.

What about blackstrap molasses?

This is just one type of molasses. It’s made from the dark leftover liquid after cane or beet sugar has been crystallized. Manufacturers have not published any glycemic index or load values, but other research suggests that the GI value of molasses runs 5-20% lower than the more refined granulated white sugars. (11)

(Video) Organic Coconut Sugar - Laird SuperFood

Is coconut nectar healthy?

Since there has not been formal testing on how it is metabolized, one can only make assumptions and not definitive answers.

The research does suggest that using coconut nectar may be good for diabetics and non-diabetics, relative to more refined white sugar. This advantage is probably small. Based on the GI value of coconut palm sugar, we know that its only fractionally better at 54 versus 60 for normal refined sugar.

Coconut Nectar Benefits For Glycemic Index Are Deceptive – Superfoodly (6)

Trader Joe’s does sell organic coconut sugar, but no nectar or syrup

You can find nectar made from coconuts for sale at Whole Foods and similar stores. Warehouse clubs like Costco and discount grocers like Trader Joe’s and Aldi don’t sell coconut nectar.

It doesn’t require refrigeration so you can easily buy it online. Though if you are going to out of your way to get it, you might as well get a healthier substitute.

Monk fruit will be the best option, as it’s a zero glycemic and zero calorie sweetener like stevia, yet it doesn’t have the bad after taste or side effects.

If you want a “real” sugar then your best bet will be date sugar, which is basically dried dates that are ground into a powder. Measured GI values for it, using both healthy and type 2 diabetics, have come back at 43 to 55. The other advantage it offers is more antioxidant content. (12)

Unfortunately finding it in-store can be a challenge, even when shopping at specialty health food stores. For buying it online, this bag on Amazon is what we use ourselves.


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

FAQs

Is coconut nectar really low glycemic? ›

Coconut nectar is low-glycemic. Is this good? The glycemic index measures how a food affects your body's blood sugar levels and insulin response. A low GI food, which ranks 55 or less, causes a slower, more steady rise in blood sugars than a high GI one, says Pritchett.

Is coconut nectar high glycemic? ›

Coconut nectar also has a low glycemic index of 35 (compared with agave's 42, honey's 58, and cane sugar's 63), which makes it a possibly safer alternative for diabetics or anyone who wants to maintain more consistent blood sugar levels.

Is coconut nectar good for diabetics? ›

This is because it has a lower proportion of sucrose while the glycemic index in coconut sugar does not exceed 35. Keeping in mind that the glycemic index is the speed with which a food raises blood glucose level, coconut sugar could be more suitable for people living with diabetes.

What are the benefits of coconut nectar? ›

Coconut Nectar is a rich source of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. It is full of Vitamin B1, B2, B3, C and B6. Coconut nectar helps to maintain a balance of liver functioning. Coconut nectar has a low Glycemic Index (GI) so it can be safe for people with diabetes (type 1 and 2) by improving blood sugar levels.

Is coconut nectar healthier than coconut sugar? ›

The nutritional profile, and glycemic index of coconut sugar and coconut nectar stay the same. The consistency and the taste however are quite different. The nutrient-rich coconut sap that comes out of the tree is naturally abundant in 17 Amino Acids, the building blocks of protein.

What is the glycemic index of coconut? ›

First, some nutrition facts: A 55-gram serving of coconut has 9 grams of carbohydrates. Its glycemic index, or GI, is 42. The glycemic index measures how much some foods and drinks raise your blood sugar when compared to pure glucose.

What is the best natural sweetener for diabetics? ›

4 safe sugar substitutes for diabetics
  • Monk fruit extract. Monk fruit naturally contains mogrosides, a type of antioxidant responsible for the sweet taste of this treat. ...
  • Stevia. ...
  • Erythritol. ...
  • Fresh fruit.
Oct 15, 2019

Is nectar good for diabetes? ›

People with diabetes may benefit from agave nectar's low glycemic index, but keep in mind that the American Diabetes Association recommends limiting the amount of agave nectar in your diet.

Can coconut lower blood sugar? ›

Research has shown that coconut water can lower blood sugar levels and improve other health markers in animals with diabetes ( 8 , 9 , 10 ).

What is the source of coconut nectar? ›

The nectar comes from the blossoms of the coconut palm tree (Cocos nucifera L). The trees on our partner's farms grow to be 35-60 feet tall. The average coconut palm lives to be 70-120 years old, with full productivity for 25-45 years. They start producing fruit after six years of growth.

Is coconut nectar sugar free? ›

Unfortunately, much that we'd love to be able to say a sweet stuff is 'healthy', coconut nectar is still a sugar product, and sugar isn't exactly a health food. However, it is healthier than many alternatives.

How much sugar does coconut nectar have? ›

Region: US
ServingIngredientCalories
13 gsugar50

Does coconut sugar spike insulin? ›

According to the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index (35) than white sugar (60 to 65), meaning it doesn't spike your blood glucose and insulin like table sugar does. (Honey and agave syrup are low on the glycemic index scale too.)

Is coconut nectar same as palm sugar? ›

Coconut sugar and palm sugar are both natural sweeteners coming from palm trees. Coconut sugar is made from the nectar of coconut palm blossoms, while palm sugar derives from the sap of date palm or sugar palm (Areanga pinnata) – therefore also be found as arenga sugar in the market.

What sugar has lowest glycemic index? ›

Agave has one of the lowest GI values compared to other natural sugars.

What is a good glycemic index? ›

Low GI : 1 to 55. Medium GI : 56 to 69. High GI : 70 and higher.

What does coconut sugar score on the glycemic index? ›

Coconut sugar's average GI rating is around 50-54, essentially the same as white table sugar. As a general rule, you can substitute coconut sugar for white sugar, but it has the same number of calories and grams of carbs so it will affect blood sugars in the same way as white table sugar can.

Is coconut sugar lower glycemic than regular sugar? ›

Coconut Sugar May Have a Lower Glycemic Index

For comparison, foods with a GI of 50 raise blood sugar levels half as much as pure glucose. Table sugar has a GI of around 60, whereas coconut sugar has been measured with a GI of 54 (2).

What sugar does not raise blood sugar? ›

Sucralose (Splenda), the Most Popular Sugar Substitute

That's because Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar, yet those little yellow packets have no effect on blood sugar, says Keri Glassman, RD, CDN, of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City.

Can diabetics use honey? ›

Generally, there's no advantage to substituting honey for sugar in a diabetes eating plan. Both honey and sugar will affect your blood sugar level. Honey is sweeter than granulated sugar, so you might use a smaller amount of honey for sugar in some recipes.

What sweetener will not spike insulin? ›

Aspartame: The oldest and most studied sweetener, aspartame has zero grams of sugar and won't spike insulin levels after it's consumed.

Is nectar high in sugar? ›

Nectar is mainly a watery solution of the sugars fructose, glucose, and sucrose but also contains traces of proteins, salts, acids, and essential oils. Sugar content varies from 3 to 80 percent, depending upon such factors as plant species and soil and air conditions.

Is nectar better than sugar? ›

Agave syrup or agave nectar is sweeter than sugar, has a lower glycemic index, and has a higher percentage of fructose. It is made from the agave plant and marketed as a "natural" sweetener, although it is as processed as table sugar.
...
Comparison chart.
AgaveSugar
SourceNectar from the blue agave plantSugarcane, beets
21 more rows

What sweet is good for diabetes? ›

Examples of some diabetes-friendly desserts include:
  • granola (with no sugar added) and fresh fruit.
  • trail mix with nuts, seeds, roasted pepitas, and dried cranberries.
  • graham crackers with nut butter.
  • angel food cake.
  • chia seed pudding.
  • low sugar avocado mousse.
  • frozen yogurt bites made with plain Greek yogurt and berries.

What is the fastest natural way to lower blood sugar? ›

Exercise is a fast and effective way to lower your blood sugar levels. Exercise can lower your blood sugar for 24 hours or more after you've finished. This is because it makes your body more sensitive to insulin. Physical activity causes the body to demand glucose for energy.

Does coconut raise blood pressure? ›

Coconut Oil Supplementation Does Not Affect Blood Pressure Variability and Oxidative Stress: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study in Stage-1 Hypertensive Patients - PMC. The .

Does coconut oil reverse diabetes? ›

Coconut oil is one of the dietary approaches to fighting diabetes. Coconut oil's fatty acids nourish cells, keeping them healthy and functioning correctly. It also helps unclog arteries and has no harmful effects on insulin or blood sugar levels.

Is coconut nectar healthier than agave? ›

Coconut Blossom Nectar is being described as the “new agave” and is higher in nutrients, lower in fructose and is also lower on the glycemic index compared to agave.

Does coconut water spike insulin? ›

Coconut water has a low glycemic index and minimal natural sugar. Hence, it won't cause a spike in your blood sugar. Glucose provides the body with energy.

How much sugar does coconut nectar have? ›

Region: US
ServingIngredientCalories
13 gsugar50

Is coconut nectar Keto friendly? ›

No, coconut sugar is not keto. Even though it's natural, coconut sugar carbs are too high to reasonably incorporate into a low carb lifestyle.

Is coconut nectar better than honey? ›

It's rich in iron and zinc, as well as 17 different amino acids and antioxidants. You'll also find that it contains vitamins C and B. Indeed, to get the same micronutrients that you'll find in coconut nectar, you'll need to eat 17 times as much honey and 282 times as much white sugar!

Is coconut nectar healthier than maple syrup? ›

Coconut nectar syrup is a wonderful low GI sweetener, making it a superior alternative to maple syrup's high glycemic index. It has a GI rating of only 35 compared to 54 of maple syrup. Foods with a lower glycemic index will have a less drastic effect on your blood sugar levels.

How much fructose is in coconut nectar? ›

Coconut sugar and fructose

Coconut sugar contains high levels of fructose. This is because sucrose is made up of half fructose. So coconut sugar, with 70 to 80 percent sucrose content, would have 35 to 40 percent fructose content.

Can coconut water lower blood sugar? ›

Coconut water has the potential to reduce blood sugar and diabetic retinal damage, serving as a candidate drug or nutrient for treating diabetes and its complications.

Can coconut lower blood sugar? ›

Coconut flour is rich in dietary fibre, which can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. As it is low in carbohydrate compared to flours such as wheat and corn, it is useful for people with diabetes because it has a mild impact on blood glucose levels.

Is nectar good for diabetes? ›

People with diabetes may benefit from agave nectar's low glycemic index, but keep in mind that the American Diabetes Association recommends limiting the amount of agave nectar in your diet.

What sugar has lowest glycemic index? ›

Agave has one of the lowest GI values compared to other natural sugars.

Does coconut sugar spike insulin? ›

According to the Philippine Food and Nutrition Research Institute, coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index (35) than white sugar (60 to 65), meaning it doesn't spike your blood glucose and insulin like table sugar does. (Honey and agave syrup are low on the glycemic index scale too.)

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