Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nutrition Notes: Sweet Benefits of Coconut Sugar

Coconut nectar is produced by slicing the bud off the flowering part of the coconut and collecting the sap (nectar) into containers. Coconut sugar crystals are created by kettle boiling the sap or by using low-temperature vacuum evaporation. Amazingly, coconut palm trees can produce fruit and nectar for up to 70 years. 

According to Bruce Fife, ND, Director of the Coconut Research Center and author of "Coconut Cures":

"A farmer can plant a coconut tree as a child and have it produce his entire life. Coconuts are always in season as they produce year round. Artificial fertilizers and pesticides are rarely ever used. Small farmers, who are the major producers, can't afford chemicals and prefer to let nature take its course. Rotting coconut husks and fronds are used as a natural fertilizer. For these reasons, coconut nectar and fruit production are very environmentally friendly."

Coconut sugar also has a low glycemic index of 35. Low glycemic foods are important to overall health since they do not create rapid spikes in blood glucose levels. Increased blood glucose triggers beta-cells of the pancreas to increase insulin. When insulin production becomes excessive, this can set the stage for diabetes mellitus, hypoglycemia, and insulin restistance. 

When a high glycemic food is consumed, excess insulin is secreted and blood glucose levels drop lower over the next few hours than if a low glycemic food had been consumed. This explains why eating high glycemic foods contributes to weight gain and obesity since hunger returns sooner and one eats more with less overall satiety. 

High dietary glycemic loads are also linked with increased serum levels of C-reative protein, a marker for inflammation that is an accurate predictor of heart disease. 

Several studies in Canada, France, and Italy found that consumption of high
glycemic foods increased the risk of breast cancer while a US study showed an increase in colorectal cancer. Higher glycemic loads were also related to a significant increase in gallbladder disease.

In addition to being environmentally friendly and low glycemic, coconut sugar is a nutritious sweetener; high in potassium, magnesium, iron, boron, zinc, sulfur, and copper.


Sources for this Article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_evaporation

http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/foods/grains/gigl.html

Ludwig DS. Dietary glycemic index and the regulation of body weight. Lipids. 2003;38(2):117-121.  
Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Dietary carbohydrates and glycaemic load and the incidence of symptomatic gall stone disease in men. Gut. 2005;54(6):823-828
Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Glycemic load, glycemic index, and carbohydrate intake in relation to risk of cholecystectomy in women. Gastroenterology. 2005;129(1):105-112
Comparison of the Elemental Content of 3 Sources of Edible Sugar-  
Analyzed by PCA-TAL, Sept. 11, 2000.  (MI Secretaria et al, 2003) in parts per million (ppm or mg/li). 



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