Over the past few years, coconut nectar has spread to every corner of supplement and grocery shelves. But what’s behind this coconut nectar craze? Well, the answer is simple: coconut sugar (or nectar) is not only delicious but also extremely healthy.
What Exactly Is Coconut Nectar?
Coconut nectar is derived from the sweet sap tapped from stems or thick stocks of coconut flowers. The sap is further evaporated at low temperatures to form a raw with a wide range of nutrients and low glycemic content.
The people in Indonesia and the Philippines are especially known for their centuries-old tradition of tapping sweet nectar from coconut palm trees.
Although it has become increasingly popular here in the US, people have only discovered coconut nectar and coconut sugar as natural sweeteners just recently.
Here is an interesting fact: Coconut palm trees are amongst the oldest flower-producing trees. Also, other than being used to extract nectar to be used as a sweetener, the sap from coconut palm trees can be used to produce coconut amino, which is a great soy sauce substitute. The sap can also be fermented to produce coconut vinegar.
How Is Coconut Nectar Made?
In some circles, the terms coconut blossom nectar and coconut nectar are used interchangeably. This is because, in reality, the sweet nectar is not actually extracted from the coconut fruit or the fleshy whites of a ripe coconut.
Rather, it is tapped from the blossoming stems of coconut palms. The ensuing sap is then dissolved and boiled to bring it to a thicker syrupy consistency, which is then packed and sold as coconut nectar.
Is Coconut Nectar Sweetener Raw and Natural?
Whether you are a strict vegan on a raw-foods-only diet plan or you are just looking to use clean and natural products, you might be wondering about the naturalness and rawness of coconut nectar sweetener.
Is coconut nectar sweetener a raw and natural sweetener? The truth is, many commercial coconut nectar syrups do not pass the ‘rawness test.’ Yes, the syrup might be extracted naturally from the stems of coconut palm trees but the fact that this syrup is heated at high temperatures makes it less raw.
Traditionally, coconut nectar syrup is extracted from the blossoming stems of coconut palm trees and most importantly, should only go through a very short evaporation technique where the sap is heated at between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius for about 45 minutes. This evaporation process helps to remove extra water, sweeten, and thicken the syrup.
Many store-bought coconut nectar sweeteners are manufactured under intense heat and for a prolonged period. While this does help to caramelize and make the syrup extra sweet, the resulting product inadvertently loses its rawness.
Other brands claim to offer organic coconut nectar but this is not always easy to prove. If you are really particular about only consuming organic produce, you might have to get in touch with the company whose coconut nectar you want to buy to confirm if theirs is organic coconut nectar.
Given the recent coconut nectar craze, you might be wondering how this new sweetener compares to other well-known ones such as maple, honey, and agave syrup.
Here is everything you need to know:
Coconut Nectar Vs Coconut Sugar
Is there a difference between coconut nectar vs coconut sugar? The packaged coconut nectar sweetener we use in our kitchens is actually sap extracted from the flowering stems of coconut palm trees.
Coconut sugar is nothing more than crystallized coconut nectar. When comparing coconut nectar vs coconut sugar, both forms of sweeteners are nutritionally similar and so is their glycemic index, which is significantly lower than other types of sweeteners.
That being said, the texture and consistency of coconut nectar sugar are obviously different from coconut nectar. The sugar is solid and grainy while the nectar has the consistency of a syrup.
Coconut Nectar Vs Honey
If you want to avoid honey, there are several alternatives including agave and maple syrup. However, these popular natural sweeteners tend to have a high glycemic index (GI) score.
Coconut nectar, which ranks low on the GI scale, might be a better alternative if this is something you are looking for.
When it comes to coconut nectar vs. honey, coconut nectar comes out as the clear winner if you are looking for a sweetener with a gentler taste to use in your baked goods recipes, smoothies, and breakfast dishes.
Coconut nectar is also packed with vitamin B and a host of other amazing minerals. Honey does have its own great benefits, especially if that signature buttery, earthy taste is what you are after or if you are not too particular on low-sugar sweeteners.
Coconut Nectar Vs Agave
What is the deal with coconut nectar vs agave? That’s something you might be wondering especially if you have been using agave and are looking to try coconut nectar.
In many households, agave is still considered among the best natural sweeteners as it ranks lower on the GI scale compared to white table sugar. This natural sugar alternative is seen as offering just the right mix of benefits—extra sweetness and comparably lower calories.
However, recently, there have been some concerns about the fructose levels in agave. Some findings show that the fructose in agave could be higher than what is found in normal sugar.
Taken in small quantities, agave should be safe for most people. However, when it comes to coconut nectar vs agave, coconut nectar might be a better choice if you are looking for a sweetener with a considerably low GI index.
Coconut nectar contains about 10% less fructose than agave, which means it is easier for the liver to digest. Generally, the liver struggles to digest large amounts of fructose, a situation that could compromise your health considerably.
In its natural form, the agave plant is actually very beneficial considering its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, the processed agave we buy in the stores has largely lost these great benefits, making coconut nectar sweetener a better alternative.
Coconut Nectar Vs Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is yet another staple in many a kitchen shelves but with the recent popularity of alternative natural sweeteners, you might be wondering about coconut nectar vs maple syrup.
First of all, when you put coconut nectar vs maple syrup side by side, you will notice a few similarities. Not only are they both very sweet but they also have more or less the same consistency.
However, coconut nectar syrup ranks lower on the GI scale than maple syrup, making coconut nectar a potentially healthy option if you have sugar-related conditions such as diabetes.
Coconut palm trees and the ensuing sap extracted from its stems are packed with nutritious minerals including iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and more than a dozen amino acids.
Some of the best coconut nectar syrup manufacturers offer clean, healthy, and unrefined syrup. You can also find organic coconut nectar, which just adds to the list of benefits of this natural sweetener. Maple syrup is however highly refined as it is put through an intense evaporation process during manufacturing.
Lastly, coconut syrup contains comparably low amounts of fructose than maple syrup. The sugars contained in coconut nectar are primarily in the form of inulin (not insulin), a prebiotic that helps with digestion and overall digestive health.
What Is A Good Coconut Nectar Substitute?
Sometimes, a recipe may call for coconut nectar but you may not have it in hand. Luckily, there are some easily accessible coconut nectar substitutes.
So what can you substitute coconut nectar with?
Sucant is a sweet syrup with a similar consistency to coconut syrup. This sweetener is naturally extracted from sugar cane and can be used as a coconut nectar substitute or in place of coconut nectar sugar in a ratio of 1:1.
Date syrup is extracted from date palm trees. Although it ranks higher in the GI scale, its intense and natural sweetness makes it an amazing coconut nectar syrup substitute, especially for use in desserts.
Blackstrap molasses, extracted from boiling sugar cane, is a very powerful natural sweetener. Although this type of molasses works well as a coconut nectar substitute, be careful to use it moderately as it can be extremely sweet.
How To Make Coconut Nectar From Coconut Sugar
The syrupy consistency makes working with coconut nectar easier, especially in recipes than coconut sugar.
Fortunately, you can easily make coconut nectar from coconut sugar.
What you will need for one cup of coconut nectar:
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of coconut sugar
Here is a step by step guide on how to make coconut nectar from coconut sugar:
- Over medium heat, bring the water to a boil
- Add the entire amount of coconut sugar into the boiling water
- Stir the mixture for about 3-5 minutes or until your kitchen thermometer reads 230 degrees
- Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool
- Store and refrigerate for up to 6 months
Top Benefits of Coconut Nectar
So, why should you welcome this sweetener at home? Well, here is a quick overview of the top benefits that you stand to gain from coconut nectar.
Packed With More Vitamins And Minerals
Compared to other sweeteners, coconut nectar boasts of more vitamins and minerals. For instance, compared to brown sugar, coco nectar has ten times more zinc, two times more iron, and four times more magnesium. What’s more, the nectar is rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and medium-chain fatty acids.
Rich In Amino Acids
Besides superior nutritional content, coconut nectar is endowed with amino acids—the body’s building blocks. A variety of physiological processes that are associated with bodybuilding (such as muscle hypertrophy, energy, recovery, and strength gains among others) are all linked to amino acids.
Low Glycemic Levels
Consuming excess amounts of sugar isn’t good for your health, especially for people who are living with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, coconut nectar is a healthy alternative because it has a low glycemic level.
Compared to other concentrated sweeteners that have high glycemic indexes (GI), coco nectar has a lower GI of around 35—far lower than those of brown sugar and honey that stand at 65 and 74 respectively.
This implies that you can get the same satisfaction for your sweet cravings without worrying about increasing your blood sugar levels.
Great For The Gut
Coconut nectar contains inulin, which has the ability to boost the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria (often found in probiotics) and is known to offer an incredible boost to the body’s immune system. Bifidobacteria also restores the good bacteria in the gut—which might have been destroyed by antibiotics or chemotherapy.
It Is Natural (No Additive)
There are no chemicals involved in the processing of coconut nectar. Yes, from its extraction up to the production process, everything is natural! No additives are added to enrich its flavor because the nectar is naturally sweet.
Since the nectar is natural, unrefined and preservative-free, most of the nutrients that are found in the coconut tree are preserved.
Where To Buy Coconut Nectar
You can buy coconut nectar from most health food stores. Alternatively, you can also buy online from trusted distributors. Preferably, opt for non-GMO organic coconut nectar.
Here are our recommendations for the best coconut nectar sweeteners:
Top 3 Coconut Nectar Sweeteners
With so many coconut nectar syrup brands on the market, how do you choose a good one? We have picked out some of the best coconut nectar sweeteners; try them and see which one works best for you.
The coconut nectar from Coco Treasure is hand-picked by local farmers in the Philippines. According to the company, the coconut palms from which the nectar is harvested are grown in nutrient-rich, herbicide-free volcanic soil.
To produce nutrient-rich authentic coconut nectar, Coco Treasure uses a natural evaporation process that does not use heat. The result is premium coconut syrup that is full of aroma, flavor, and nutrients.
Because heat is not used, the organic coconut nectar by Coco Treasure could be one among the few (if any) raw coconut syrups readily available in the market.
This sweetener is gluten free and is suitable for vegans. In spite of being so potent, it does not taste like coconut and instead retains a rich, earthy, but sweet flavor.
While many other brands use plastic packaging, Coco Treasure packs its coconut syrup in glass jars to keep the sweetener fresh for longer.
Use this coconut syrup as a natural substitute for normal table sugar to sweeten tea or coffee.
- Low glycemic
- Organic coconut nectar
- Gentle flavor
- Comparably costlier
The organic coconut nectar that Big Tree Farms produces is distinguished by its natural amber color. The nectar, which is produced naturally and on low heat, has a rich buttery caramel aroma that closely resembles maple syrup.
If you prefer or your recipe calls for a lighter sweetening syrup, this coconut nectar might be a good pick. Use it to prepare baked goods, to sweeten yogurts, and on your breakfast pancakes.
- Low glycemic
- 100% pure coconut blossom nectar
- Available in amber and blonde
- The strong taste can overpower dishes
Coconut nectar is a great sugar alternative, especially for people with diabetes. It tastes great, healthy in proper portions, and can be used in a wide range of delicious recipes and meals. In fact, to get the benefits of this versatile sweetener, you can use it in hot tea, shakes, drinks, smoothies, and desserts.
So would you reserve a spot for this natural sweetener in your pantry? Well, it boils down to your personal preferences. However, if you ask us (or any health expert), we’d tell you that you should!