Q: “I’ve heard coconut sugar advertised on the radio. They say it has no empty calories, unlike regular sugar, and it’s packed with vitamins and amino acids. Is it really a healthy alternative to sugar?”
A: HFG senior nutritionist Rose Carr answers:
We think the claims about coconut sugar are unfounded. Unless you’re consuming vast amounts of sugar — which we would not recommend — the amounts of vitamins and minerals in the sugar are insignificant. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and coconut sugar contains only 1.3g of protein per 100g. A claim that it is high in amino acids is meaningless when it is so low in protein to start with. For perspective, one teaspoon of sugar is a little over 4g and 100g is just less than half a cup.
While coconut sugar has a slightly different nutrient profile to white sugar and a different flavour, it’s still over 90 per cent carbohydrate in the form of sugars. It’s also around eight times more expensive. Our advice? Use whichever you prefer and don’t overdo it.