Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, June 2018

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Food & Beverage Trends ■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK 44 JUNE 2018 Coconut Coffee and Tea: Reinventing RTDs and Non-Dairy Creamers Adding coconut oil to cof ee is a habit that a variety of health gurus have touted for years, but now it seems that savvy cof ee manufac- turers are building on cof ee bloggers' enthu- siasm for coconuts with new innovations that are changing the cof ee and tea market. Cof ee and tea manufacturer CAcafe (Up- land, CA) is incorporating coconut into its superfood cof ee and tea formulas, with a product line that includes coconut cof ee, coconut tea, and even coconut cocoa. How- ever, these products are marked by a few key dif erences that set them apart from the do-it-yourself recipes that have populated the blogosphere in recent years. While most at-home recipes involve add- ing coconut oil to cof ee or tea, CAcafe's product line consists of natural whole-coco- nut products that make use of both the co- conut's oil and its milk. T ese products are capitalizing on the growth of the function- al cof ee market 1 and a growing consumer preference for dairy alternatives that evi- dently extends beyond products like yogurt into dairy creamers. 2 Cof ee and tea manufacturers are also experimenting with coconut in other ways, with companies like RealBeanz (Brooklyn, NY) introducing RTD iced cof ees made with 20% coconut water. 3 Cold-brew cof ees are also seeing the introduction of coconut as a main ingredient, as evidenced by product launches by the numerous cold-brew coco- nut cof ee companies at recent Natural Prod- ucts Expo West trade shows. 4 Coconut Sugar: A Natural Low(er)-GI Sweetener That's Rich(er) in Minerals Once thought to be relatively harmless, tra- ditional ref ned table sugar now f nds itself at the center of a major scientif c controversy. Scientif c studies continue to demonstrate the health dangers of excessive sugar intake, leading consumers to search for healthi- er sweetener alternatives. One 2015 in vivo clinical trial, for instance, found that partic- ipants who reduced dietary sugar intake and substituted with starch saw improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, insulin response, and body weight. T e study au- thors said that sugar's negative health ef ects are independent of its caloric density or its ef ect on weight gain and pinpointed fruc- tose specif cally as a problematic sugar to be limited or avoided. 5 Coconut sugar, in contrast, of ers some minor advantages over standard white and brown sugar. Coconut sugar—made by evaporating the water out of coco- nut sap—is high in inulin, a f ber that has been found to promote weight loss through fat oxidation and reduce body weight in randomized clinical trials in- volving pre-diabetic patients. 6 One ran- domized double-blind clinical trial also found that coconut-derived D-xylose has a lower glycemic index than table sugar 7 ; however, this study failed to account for coconut sugar's high fructose level. Some research indicates that coco- nut sugar is a low-glycemic index (GI) sweetener and rich in minerals com- pared to table sugar—but experts say these f ndings come with important ca- veats. While some scientists and manu- facturers claim that coconut sugar has a glycemic index of 35 8 , the University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia) and other institutions peg coconut sugar's glycemic in- dex in the mid-50s. 9 T is is still lower than that of standard white table sugar, but it's signif cantly higher than the GI of natural sugars found in most fruits. Victoria Taylor, senior dietician for the British Heart Foundation (London, UK), says that coconut sugar has just as many calories as other sugars. Taylor notes that while coconut sugar does contain vita- mins, minerals, f ber, and antioxidants, these nutrients aren't present in large enough quantities to render any health benef ts. Taylor says that in order to ben- ef t from these nutrients, one would need to consume extremely large amounts of coconut sugar, at which point any theoret- ical health benef t from vitamins or other nutrients would be greatly outweighed by the detrimental ef ects of excessive sugar consumption. 10 Experts like Taylor say that coconut sugar is still a sugar and thus it should still be used sparingly. However, coconut sugar manu- facturers can conf dently say that coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than white table sugar, making it a good alternative for health-conscious consumers. Coconut sugar manufacturer Big Tree Farms recommends using coconut sugar as a 1:1 replacement for regular brown sugar. PHOTO FROM CACAFE INC.

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