Crazy for COCONUT. Meet Our Ingredients: Coconut Sugar + Coconut Oil
We are CRAZY for COCONUT here at Purely Elizabeth. You may have heard us talk about how we sweeten our products with Coconut Sugar and add Coconut Oil in the recipe as well. This isn’t just because we saw on the internet that this tropical food was incredibly trendy (although it definitely is). We choose to use Coconut Sugar + Coconut Oil because of their nutritional benefits!! So we wanted to sit down today in Purely Nutrition School to talk about these benefits.
As you’ll see on our packaging and website: our Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is an unrefined sweetener that we sustainably harvest from Indonesia. Measuring low on the glycemic index (35), it also contains essential nutrients- high in many vitamins and minerals such a potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
Let’s Dive In Deeper:
Coconut sugar is the boiled and dehydrated sap of the coconut palm. Compared to white table sugar, it contains way more Vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper. It also contains the B Vitamin, Inositol, which is a mood booster! (Is this why Pina Coladas make us feel so happy? ;) ) Anyways…
What about the Glycemic Index stuff?
The glycemic index measures the effects of carbohydrates on your blood sugar. The lower the score, the better! Coconut sugar ranks just 35 on this index (compared to white table sugar which ranks between 60 and 75). Therefore, coconut sugar won’t cause your blood sugar to spike as much — no sugar rush + subsequent sugar crash. Part of the reason why coconut sugar ranks so low is because it contains a low amount of fructose, which is a kind of sugar that converts QUICKLY to fat. Only your liver can break down fructose. And according to Harvard Health Publications, one should “not consume large amounts of fructose outside of that which you get in fresh fruit.” Coconut sugar is just 45% fructose while agave nectar is 90% and high-fructose corn syrup is 55%.
Any other benefits other than those related to health?
YES! As we often like to mention our coconut palm sugar is SUSTAINABLY harvested from Indonesia– our Director of Operations actually went on a trip last fall to Indonesia to watch the process, and it. was. incredible. He was able to witness the whole process, which really solidified our passion for this sugar.
So why is it so sustainable?
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, coconut palm sugar is the most sustainable sweetener in the world (it literally won the award in 2014). They noted how the trees use minimal amounts of water and fuel, especially compared to cane sugar production, and these trees produce for about 20 years. Organic coconut sugar has no artificial ingredients and is not chemically altered in any way, which DEFINITELY benefits the earth.
So to sum all that up:
Coconut palm sugar is a GREAT sweetener option because it checks out for 4 main sugar differentiators: 1) the added nutrients, 2) the glycemic index and the effect it has on your blood sugar, 3) the percent of fructose, + 4) the effects on the environment and just how sustainably it can be produced.
Alright, so coconut oil is definitely a little more of a debated topic and often gets harped on for being trendy and not actually GOOD for you… SO we are gonna tread a little lightly but dive into some of the reasons why we love this kind of oil in our products!
As we note, coconut oil is made up of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid found in mother’s milk that supports healthy metabolism and offers anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. The medium-chain fatty acids get used as energy rather than being stored as fat in the body. Unlike other fats, coconut oil is high in beneficial fats that help use to lose weight, lower cholesterol, improve diabetic conditions and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Okay, woah. Can we break that down?
Yes, so first lauric acid. It is known that coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, which initially raises a bunch of eyebrows and judgey looks. But not all sat fats are really created equal. Lauric acid is the saturated fat most present in coconut oil (2/3 of the saturated fat). It is a medium-chain triglyceride, MCT, which means it is quickly used by the body as energy, when compared to other longer chain triglycerides.
So medium-chain triglycerides are a good thing?
Since MCTs break down quickly, they can improve energy dramatically! They are sent directly to the liver for use, giving the body a burst of energy rather than being stored as fat. This is also helpful for weight loss (not being stored as fat– can we get a hallelujah?!). Also since these MCTs stimulate the thyroid while also balancing blood sugar, your metabolism can increase.
What other benefits does coconut oil have?
As mentioned above, lauric acid offers anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties and is full of antioxidants. It is super abundant in breast-milk and has strong anti-infective properties, which is great for newborn babies to protect them from disease. Lauric acid’s properties are amazing for immune system stimulation and can keep you feeling good + healthy.
Now what about cholesterol?
So this is where a lot of debates and bickering begins, but we are gonna keep it simple and stick to resources that we trust. According to Wendy Bazilian, R.D., “lauric acid appears to have a more neutral effect on health health when compared to longer-chain saturated fats found in meats and dairy products.”
So there are two types of cholesterol: LDL, aka “bad cholesterol” which helps form plaque that blocks your arteries (ew, no thanks) and HDL, aka “good cholesterol” which helps remove LDL (yes please). Coconut oil’s MCTs/lauric acid actually help to balance HDL-to-LDL ratios. A major cause of heart disease is oxidized LDL cholesterol, and coconut oil can help prevent this oxidation! Portion sizes definitely come into play here though, because if you eat too much, the effect on cholesterol is much less positive.
Wait so even though coconut oil has so many benefits, I can’t eat the whole jar?
Yeah, no. Sorry. Feel free to lather all the coconut oil you want in your hair and skin– seriously makes for a great moisturizer. But when it comes to eating it, keep it to 1 to 2 tablespoons a day!!
Last things to note:
Always look for organic, unrefined extra-virgin coconut oil. “Virgin or extra-virgin” means that it is extracted from coconut meat using delicate methods such as cold-pressing. This indicates that it will have more antioxidants as well as a stronger coconut flavor/aroma. Organic/unrefined or raw will let you know that the product has not been heated, refined, deodorized or exposed to chemicals.
Really whether we are talking sugar or oil, you already know it’s all about MODERATION + LISTENING TO YOUR BODY.
But we hope this little nutrition lesson has been helpful and now you can impress all your friends at parties by talking about lauric acid and the glycemic index. AND now you know why we are so crazy for coconut here at Purely Elizabeth.