We were sent this question, and had Brian provide the response:
I recently discovered Coconut Sugar at the store. In comparing it to cane sugar, it doesn't look different, but the packaging indicates that it is somehow better for you. What do you think?
Coconut sugar is primarily sucrose. Sucrose is the sugar most
commonly referred to as "table sugar", and is formed of a glucose unit
bonded to a fructose unit. Thus, like table sugar, coconut sugar is
roughly 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Unlike table sugar, however,
coconut sugar is far less refined and retains some additional benefits.
Coconut sugar is considered low-glycemic, despite
its sugar content. There isn't a lot of research to suggest why coconut
sugar affects our blood sugar differently than honey or cane sugar, but
it consistently rates on a scale of 35-55. This is compared to table
sugar which has a GI of 60.
Coconut sugar also retains some vitamins and
minerals, although it's unlikely to contribute significant amounts.
There are much better foods out there to get your daily nutrients from!
It should also be noted that coconut sugar is less sweet than
regular table sugar. If you add extra sugar to make up for the
sweetness, you will find that much of the benefit erodes away under the
higher glycemic LOAD of the amount you are consuming.
Ultimately, it's important to remember that coconut
sugar is still added sugar, and should be used sparingly. If you rarely
consume added sugar, perhaps only stirring a teaspoon-full into your tea
every now and again, then coconut sugar may be a better choice. If
you're eating multiple teaspoons daily, however, it will still take its
toll on your health, low glycemic index or not.