Sugar, sugar, sugar – it’s everywhere you look! Yes, we admit that a scoop of chocolate ice cream does taste heavenly, especially when you’re feeling low! But that scoop isn’t exactly packed with nutrition, and sugar is particularly bad for kids. And most Moms are aware of this fact, which is why I get several emails with questions about sugar and it’s alternatives. So today, I’m going to answer one of the most common questions – Can I give my Baby Coconut Sugar?
What is Coconut Sugar?
Coconut sugar is a sugar that is produced from the flower stems of the coconut palm tree, mainly from Southeast Asian countries. It is light brown and slightly granulated in appearance.
Farmers extract the sap from the coconut tree and reduce it. That’s about the only processing that goes into making coconut sugar! That’s why coconut sugar is considered a raw food. The brown color is it’s natural color that occurs during the reduction process. This gives it a slight caramel taste, along with a hint of nuttiness.
Coconut Sugar vs White Sugar
- Coconut sugar has a lower Glycemic Index as compared to table sugar, which means it doesn’t cause sudden spikes in blood sugar level
- Table sugars often contains additives to get that pure white color, whereas coconut sugar’s brown color is it’s natural appearance
- Coconut sugar retains some of the nutrients of coconuts, like magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron
- This sugar is reported to have 400 times more potassium than white sugar
- Coconut sugar also contains antioxidants, polyphenols, anthocyanidin and flavonoids – none of which are present in white sugar
- It contains less fructose than white sugar; so that less bad fats are created from breaking down sugar in the body
- Coconut trees are more productive than sugar cane – coconut trees can give more sugar per acre as compared to sugar cane
- The trees use much less water and other resources compared to sugar cane, due to which coconut sugar has been named ‘The Most Sustainable Sweetener in the World’ by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
When can I give my Baby Coconut Sugar?
As such, coconut for babies is considered to be fine. While coconut sugar has many more benefits than white sugar, it is still a kind of sugar and high in calories, so it’s use needs to be restricted in your child’s diet. Due to this reason, coconut sugar is recommended for babies over the age of one. Once your little one is past her first birthday, you can use coconut sugar in place of white sugar.
There are many benefits of substituting coconut sugar in your baby’s diet:
- Babies get the added benefits of the various micronutrients, antioxidants and fiber in coconut sugar
- They are protected from the added preservatives and additives of white sugar
- They get acquainted with the more natural flavor of coconut sugar
- You’ll require less quantity than white sugar, which means a healthier dish for your child
When buying coconut sugar, be sure of getting a brand that is made from high quality coconut sap. One way of doing this is to buy organic coconut sugar, so you can be assured that the trees were cultivated without any pesticides or chemicals whatsoever.
The sugar extracted from such trees will have a more wholesome flavor and is obviously better for health.
How to use Coconut Sugar in Recipes
Basically, you can substitute sugar with coconut sugar in pretty much any dish. Here are some simple ways to include coconut sugar in your family’s diet:
- Mix some into porridge
- Use it in baked goods like cakes, cookies or brownies
- Coconut sugar works well in Indian desserts like kheer, payasam or halwa
- It can also be blended into smoothies and milkshakes.
Coconut sugar gives a beautiful flavor to dishes, besides sweetening them. You’ll find that you don’t need to use as much as you would have to use with white sugar. However, please remember that while coconut sugar is certainly healthier than white sugar, it is still high in calories. By using it sensibly in your dishes, you’ll find that your little one soon develops a taste for it and won’t crave anything that is high in white sugar.