Ask the RD: Which sugar should you choose?

Which sugar should you choose?

With so many on the market now – coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, honey, white sugar and brown sugar – it is tough to make a decision. Although it’s true that some are less refined, contain minerals, have a lower GI (raise your blood sugar slower), chemically speaking, they are identical. Therefore, sugar is sugar and we should always try to eat less of it!

To better understand this message, let’s take a deeper look at coconut sugar:

Coconut sugar is made from the sap of a coconut palm tea. The sap is boiled to create a caramel-colored product, which some people claim tastes similar to brown sugar. Coconut sugar can be used as a sweetener in your coffee, in baked desserts, sauces and marinades. It can replace sugar portion for portion; however, some people find that they need use more coconut sugar, as it is not as intensely sweet. Coconut sugar is often advertised for its high mineral content retained from the sap, specifically potassium. Although this is true, don’t count on getting much in a teaspoon or tablespoon. In order to retain ¼ of a day’s worth of potassium, you would need to consume 25 teaspoons of sugar! And finally, when it comes to calories and carbohydrates, there’s no difference between coconut sugar and white sugar – both contain 16 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrate (sugar) per teaspoon. As you can see, too much sugar, of any type, will raise your blood sugar and add extra calories to your diet.

Another factor to consider is cost:

Redpath Fine White Granulated Sugar (2kg) = $3.69
Redpath Dark Brown Sugar (1kg) = $3.29
Pure Palm Organic Coconut Sugar (454g) = $5.99
Splenda (110g) = $5.99
*prices obtained from

Although coconut sugar is not as expensive as a non-sugar substitute (Splenda), you pay more for a smaller quantity when compared to white sugar and brown sugar. If chemically and calorically speaking they are identical, is it truly worth the added cost? 

Have a question for the Registered Dietitian team at Diabetes Source? Post your question in the comment section below or head over to and click on Ask the RD – your question may be featured on the JDRF blog in the future or answered on the Diabetes Source site!

Diabetes Source has a free Ask the RD service where you can submit questions about living with diabetes directly on their website. It will be answered by the team of Registered Dietitians at LMC Diabetes & Endocrinology, who are also Certified Diabetes Educators as well as Certified Product Trainers on the insulin pumps available in Canada. LMC Diabetes & Endocrinology is the largest community-based adult diabetes centre in Canada, with offices in three provinces. Their dynamic team of diabetes educators and endocrinologists provide expert care to any person living with diabetes. They focus on empowerment and self-management through individual counseling and interactive workshops. LMC also has an innovate research program that keeps them a step ahead, advancing diabetes care worldwide.

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