Coconut Sugar vs Cane Sugar: What’s the Difference?

Today, we’re talking sweeteners. Specifically, we’re talking about sugar. But wait, we can get even more specific. We’re talking about coconut sugar. Most sugar in the U.S. comes from either sugar beets or sugar cane. But you can also get sugar from coconuts! What is coconut sugar, exactly? How does it differ from more traditional sugars? Let’s spill the sugar details. 

What is coconut sugar? 

Coconuts, once mostly known as the thing they made radios out of on Gilligan’s Island, have been enjoying quite a run of popularity recently. There are all manner of coconut products available: coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil. So why not coconut sugar? 

Coconut sugar comes from the sap from the stem of the coconut flower bud. The sap is heated and evaporated until the water content is gone and the sticky, gooey sugar remains. It’s an alternative to refined sugar often used in Southeast Asian cooking. 

What does coconut sugar taste like?

I’ll be honest: I myself have not sampled the rare wonder known as coconut sugar. However, after thorough research, it seems that the consensus is that it tastes similar to brown sugar, with a slightly caramel-like flavor. It’s worth noting, too, that since coconut sugar is not highly processed, there can be more variation between individual batches. 

Cane sugar vs coconut sugar: what’s the difference?

Well, cane sugar is made from the sucralose-rich sugar cane plant, which is in the same family as corn and wheat. To make cane sugar, you heat sugar cane juice and let the moisture evaporate until just the sugar remains—very similar to the process of making coconut sugar.

In terms of look and feel, there’s some difference between cane sugar and coconut sugar. Cane sugar is often highly processed in the form of white table sugar. Coconut sugar, meanwhile, is less processed, has a more caramel-y flavor, and is usually brown. But when it comes to nutrition in coconut sugar vs cane sugar, there’s really very little difference. Both are super sweet and delicious, and should be consumed in moderation. It’s true that coconut sugar may have trace nutrients in there, while refined cane sugar certainly does not, but there’s no indication that this really makes it a healthier alternative. Sugar, as it turns out, is not the best thing in the world for you, no matter its form.

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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