Healthy Sugar Alternatives

Why is The Real Coconut a Refined Sugar-Free Brand?

The Real Coconut has always promoted a refined sugar-free lifestyle. We believe that allowing yourself to eat sweet foods is fine from time to time, as long as these are natural sugars that have been minimally processed. Many health professionals advocate eating a completely sugar-free diet. However, natural sugars are found in many foods, making it difficult to sustainably avoid every type of sugar. It’s all about balance.

The earth has provided us with a bounty of naturally sweetened foods, and our body’s do require some sweetness. In Ayurveda, it’s believed that sweet foods actually have a cooling effect on your body.  However, many man-made “fast foods,” are laced with hidden and heavily refined sugars. These kinds of foods lack nutrition, from being highly processed with large amounts of sugars. Many people will reach for foods that give them instant energy when they are tired or hungry, but these quick foods don’t necessarily provide much nourishment. They only provide your body with a quick fix of energy, and an inevitable sugar crash.

Eating refined sugars can stress the body over time, which is why we want to give you some more nourishing alternatives.  Not all sweet foods and sugars affect the body the same way. These gentle sweeteners are not only better for you, they are also more sustainable to produce. 

Blood Sugar Levels

The biggest problem with simple sugars is that they spike your blood sugar levels and put stress on the liver due to the high glucose and fructose content.  Glucose molecules enter into your bloodstream, which the body recognizes as dangerous; and fructose is sent to the liver for processing, which leads to cellular stress.   

In response to the increased blood sugar, insulin is released by the pancreas in order bring the levels back down, as insulin facilitates the transport of glucose into all of your cells where the mitochondria convert it into fuel (ATP).  The cells can only hold a certain amount of sugar, so any extra goes to the liver to be processed. Your liver then turns the excess glucose into glycogen, which is then stored in the liver and muscle tissue.

When glucose is needed again, the glycogen is converted back into glucose, which is then released into the blood for the cells to access and turn into energy (ATP).  

Only a certain amount of glucose can be converted into glycogen so any extra is turned into triglycerides, which are stored in fatty tissues - so excess glucose essentially becomes fat cells.


Sugar and Inflammation

High blood triglycerides are a big contributing factor to cardiovascular disease and are a good indication of inflammation in the body.

When blood sugar levels are constantly elevated, your body’s cells adapt by becoming less sensitive to insulin. The cells can decrease in the number of insulin receptors they have in their membranes, which means that they don’t react as much as they would if they had normal/healthy amounts of cell receptors.  This causes the pancreas to release more insulin to lower the elevated blood sugar leading to insulin resistance. When your blood sugar is no longer in the normal range due to the above factors, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.

Refined Sugar Alternatives

Eating a balanced diet filled with whole foods rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is extremely important. This will also make it better to eat sugar in moderation and have a sweet treat from time to time.   

However, we still wanted to add some quality sweetness to some of our dishes, namely desserts and smoothies, so we opted for these unrefined beauties: coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates, raw honey and blackstrap molasses.  Some of these sweeteners may cause a spike in blood sugar, and some do contain fructose, but we feel that they all possess other own qualities that make them much more appealing than refined white or brown sugars (which originate from sugarcane or sugar beets).

One important factor about the sweets on our menu is that a lot of them are high in fiber due to the flours we use.  Fiber is a potent antidote to sugars, as it helps to reduce the negative impact that glucose and fructose have on the body.  Fiber stops the rapid absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and slows down the speed at which fructose is transported to the liver.  This means your body doesn’t need to pump out as much insulin and your liver doesn’t need to work as hard.

Most of our treats are made using plantain, tapioca and coconut flour, all of which are high in fiber, which helps to reduce the negative effects of the sweeteners on the body.  We also chose these unrefined sweeteners as they are higher in vitamins and minerals compared to refined and processed sugars. This makes it easier for your system to process these natural sugars.

TRC Top 5

Coconut Sugar - made from the sap of the coconut palm tree.  This is the sap that feeds the tree, making it rich in minerals and other nutrients.  Coconut sugar is ranked as having a low GI (glycemic index) of 35, which means it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as quickly as refined white or brown sugar, which has a GI rating of 65.  It does however contain fructose so it still should be eaten in moderation. We also love using coconut sugar because it does contain small amounts of minerals which aid the body to properly metabolize it. It also contains an important fiber called inulin.  

1. Maple Syrup: is made from the sap of the maple tree. It has a GI rating of 54 and is similar to coconut sugar in the sense that it contains minerals and antioxidants, making it a better choice than refined table sugar. The taste is also unbeatable.  

2. Dates: a fruit from the date palm. We use the whole date to blend into smoothies and puddings.  This provides a rich and caramel like sweetness as well as incorporating the benefits of the whole fruit such as the fiber, vitamins and some essential minerals e.g. magnesium, B6, potassium, manganese and copper.  

3. Raw Honey: we use raw honey in some of our shots, as the medicinal benefits of raw honey are well documented as it is abundant in amino acids, minerals, live enzymes and antioxidants, which all support cellular functioning and immunity.  In Tulum we use Melipona honey, which is a very precious honey produced by the native Mexican bee, the stingless Melipona Maya bee. It is antimicrobial, antiviral, anti inflammatory and its nourishing to have whenever you feel run down.  Purchasing this honey also helps to support local indigenous communities who harvest it and care for the environment of this sacred, little Mayan bee.

4. Blackstrap Molasses: we use molasses in our ginger flavored plantain cookies, as it warms the flavors of ginger and spices to reach much higher heights.  It is actually a byproduct from the sugar refining process and is the thick syrup that is left after the final boiling of the sugar cane that turns the refined sugar into crystals.  It contains an abundance of minerals as well that are secreted during the processing of molasses and become dark liquid gold. Molasses has a GI of around 55 and is rich in minerals like iron, manganese, calcium, copper and magnesium, and many more.


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