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Not All Sugar is as Sweet as You Might Think: Comparing the Effects of Cane Sugar and Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar on a wooden spoon

Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in food and beverages during preparation, processing or added at the table. The average American consumes about 66 pounds of added sugar per year. 66 multiplied by the 328.2 million people that reside in the United States is equal to over 15 billion pounds of added sugar consumed per year; and this doesn’t even account for the rest of the world. These 15 billion pounds of added sugar come in many different varieties, and when deciding which is best to consume it can be overwhelming. The most popular type of added sugar is cane sugar. More recently, however, consumers are turning to coconut sugar as an alternative sweetener with nutritional benefits like potassium and calcium. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the flowers on coconut trees. While both are sweeteners, coconut sugar is far better than cane sugar for the environment and for added nutrition. Here is a comparison of cane sugar and coconut sugar, and a closer look at why coconut sugar is the better option when in need of a sweetener.

Water Usage

Sugarcane is an incredibly thirsty crop with a global average water footprint of 1782 liters of water per 1 kg of sugar produced. This is equivalent to about 2 years’ worth of drinking water for 1 person. Coconut sugar, on the other hand, does not require any water other than rainfall.

Land Usage/Soil Health

As a monoculture crop, a single type of crop that is planted on a large section of land year after year, sugarcane farming is incredibly land intensive and results in the clearing of grasslands, rainforests, and wetlands. Monocropping depletes the nutrients in the soil and causes erosion, and clearing these large plots of land has a detrimental impact on local biodiversity. A 2004 report by WWF, titled “Sugar and the Environment,” shows that sugar may be responsible for more biodiversity loss than any other crop. Additionally, cane sugar requires large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, which pollute the surrounding land and water. Coconut sugar does not have any of these negative effects, as it requires zero additional land, and actually contributes to soil health. Because coconut palm trees grow naturally from fallen coconuts, they do not require any land to be cleared, and only add to the surrounding biodiversity. Coconut palm trees also require no pesticides, and no artificial fertilizers.

Carbon Emissions

Approximately 241 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent is released to the atmosphere per ton of cane sugar that is produced. This is the equivalent of the CO2 emissions from over 5 billion homes’ energy use for one year. The production of Covico evaporated coconut nectar (sugar), however, is carbon negative, meaning that our coconut sugar not only doesn’t harm the environment, but it also helps it! Coconut trees act as carbon sinks that counter the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide by the biomass and the soil of the ecosystem. At Covico, we even further increase carbon sequestration through no till and agroforestry methods.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of a food reflects the speed in which that food increases blood glucose levels. Foods with a low glycemic index increase blood glucose levels slowly and steadily, whereas foods with a high glycemic index increase blood glucose levels quickly. A high blood glucose level can have negative effects on your health such as damage to your pancreas and the hardening of blood vessels, which can lead to kidney disease or failure, strokes, heart attacks, vision loss or blindness, and more. Coconut sugar has a glycemic index as low as 35, and cane sugar has a glycemic index of 65; almost double that of coconut sugar.

Nutritional Content

Sugarcane is neither rich in vitamins nor minerals and doesn’t provide nutritional benefits. Coconut sugar, on the other hand, does not undergo heavy processing like cane sugar does and therefore is able to retain several vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, and short-chain fatty acids.

It is clear that choosing coconut sugar over cane sugar benefits both the environment and one’s health. Allow your customers to reap these benefits by incorporating Covico evaporated coconut nectar (sugar) into your next formulation. To learn more about Covico evaporated coconut nectar and possible product applications, visit our website. To request a sample or to place an order, click “inquire” on this page, and fill out the short form with your information. A sales representative will get back to you shortly!


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