Palm sugar has fantastic health benefits and nutritional value. For the last few years, Palm sugar has also been known as Palm Jaggery. It has a better source of vitamins and minerals than any other sweeteners.
Most people consume more sugar, which can cause health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. However, it contains low glucose and a lower glycemic index than honey or white sugar. This is one of the healthy sweet alternatives that is sold in the market.
Let us dive deep into the health benefits as well as the taste. Before getting into this, have some interesting facts about palm trees and their types.
Common Names of Palm Sugar
- Botanical Name: Arenga pinnata
- Tamil Name: karupatti or Panam kalkandu
- English Name: Palm Jaggery / Sugar
- Malayalam: Panañcakkara
- Kannada Name: Sarkare
- Telugu: Thati Bellam
- Marathi Name: Gul
- Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali Name: Gur
- Urdu Name: Gur
- Gujrati Name: Gol
- Oriya Name: Gudo
- Malaysia- Gul Melaka
- Indonesia- Gula Merah
- Philippines- Pakombuk
- Thailand- Namtan tanot
WHAT IS A PALM SUGAR?
Palm sugar is a natural sweetener that comes from the sap of the palm tree. It’s ultimately a raw sugar as it involves minimum processing and no added chemicals. The palm sugar is made by heating the collected sap until it gets a thick syrup, and this sweet nectar is then reduced to sugar crystals.
The boiled sap is sold as a Palm syrup in bottles or containers, and it has been a common ingredient in desserts or drizzled over the prepared desserts. It’s also available in the form of rock-like chunks, cakes, paste, and granular form.
This palm sugar has a mild caramel flavor, and it resembles honey when it’s in a liquid form. Whereas in the granulated form, it tastes similar to white sugar. This palm sugar contains approximately 86% sweetness while compared to white sugar. Thus, it certainly has an enjoyable taste. Moreover, it’s a popular ingredient in African and Southeast Asian for cooking innovative desserts, sauces, puddings, ice creams, Panna cottas, and souffles using the molten Nolen Gur or Khajur Gur.
Nutrition Facts of Palm Sugar
One tablespoon of palm sugar contains:
--> Calories: 54
--> Fiber: 0 grams
--> Fat: 0 grams
--> Sugar: 15 grams
--> Protein: 0 grams
--> Carbohydrates: 15 grams
Palm sugar is a good source of:
Types of Palm Sugar
Palm sugar is the word used to refer to both coconut palm sugar and palmyra palm sugar. However, the term is used conversely, but both are not the same. One is derived from the coconut tree’s sap, while the other is derived from the Palmyra Palm tree’s sap.
Different kinds of palm sugars are available. The predominant palm sugar sources are the Palmyra, date, nipa, sugarcane, and coconut palms. They are available in three forms: rock chunks, granular or powder, and liquid form. The liquid jaggery can be used as a dietary supplement, and it’s used for preparing many desserts.
Coconut Palm Sugar – Coconut sugar is also known as coconut palm sugar, which is similar to palm sugar, but it’s made from a different palm tree type. The Coconut sugar/jaggery is made from neera- a coconut flower sap and the liquid fluid is collected into containers or molds to prepare jaggery.
A coconut sugar/jaggery is an excellent source of antioxidants and minerals like magnesium, iron, and folate. It’s considered a good and healthier option as compared to sugarcane jaggery.
Date Palm Sugar – It’s made from the fruit of palm trees, not from tree’s sap. It’s made by mixing raw dates with a substance called maltodextrin, a common food additive. Later the mixture is dried and ground into granules.
Different kinds of sugar are also made from the sap of date palm trees, that is less commonly available and more pricey. Naturally, dates are an excellent source of fructose, which is a natural sugar found in the raw fruit. Hence, palm sugar is an ideal natural sweetener and a healthy substitute for white sugar. They provide fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Cane Sugar – It’s made by extracting sugar from the crushed cane. The juice taken from sugarcane then undergoes several processes. It is purified by boiling and then the concentrated juice is cooled, followed by molding and then storage.
Raw cane sugar is a healthy alternative to regular sugar, and they don’t have any differences. Cane sugar and raw sugar are similar in terms of chemical composition and are made up of sucrose. Sucrose is a molecule formed by the units of simple sugars, such as fructose(3) and glucose.
Nipa Palm Sugar – It is a natural sweetener with a low GI, and it is made from the sap of Nipa palm(Nypa fruticans). The sap is collected from a mature fruit stalk which is the head of the fruit. Once the plant attains its full growth, the fruit stalk is cut and there comes the sap. It is then collected for later use.
It’s native to the tropical regions and coastlines of the Pacific and Indian oceans. Nipa sugar is a healthy and natural sweetener rich in minerals and provides some health benefits. It can boost the immune system and regulate blood sugar levels.
PROVEN HEALTH BENEFITS OF PALM SUGAR
The excellent health benefits of palm sugar are listed below.
Boosts Energy Level
Palm sugar is a great energy booster for both adults and children. It takes very little time to break down and can be absorbed easily by the body.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, calcium, and amino acids. It also consists of sucrose, fructose, and glucose. As it is rich in iron, it helps to treat anemia. The sugar content in Palm sugar is well balanced, and it’s an excellent substitute for table sugar.
You can have a spoon of palm sugar with a cup of tea, coffee, or milk in the morning and evening to keep your energy levels raised. It also provides energy over an extended period of time.
Palm sugar helps in treating dehydration problems and maintains the electrolyte levels within the cells of our body. This Oral Rehydration Solution is handy for people suffering from diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of fluid in the body along with salt and minerals.
A Palm Sugar is an excellent substitute for making the ORS. To prepare an oral rehydration solution, do not use milk or juice and don’t add extra salt or sugar. Because the rehydration salt contains the right mix of sugar and salt. You can use palm sugar instead of white sugar, which is an excellent natural substitute for refined sugar.
To make this Oral rehydration solution, mix six teaspoons of palm sugar and 1/2 spoon of salt in 1litre of lukewarm water.
Best Sweetener for Diabetes
Palm sugar has a lower GI and glucose than honey or table sugar. It helps to stabilize blood sugar levels than any other sweeteners. Low GI indicates that it does not cause a sudden spike in the insulin level immediately. Studies have found that the Glycemic Index of Palm sugar is 35 compared to table sugar at 68 and honey at 55. However, diabetes patients can consume palm sugar at a deficient level or consume it in the same manner as for regular sugar.
Aids in Digestion
Palm sugar helps in promoting better digestion, as it contains a dietary fiber called inulin. Studies have found that this plant-based fiber can promote better digestion, control bacteria in the gut, and improve the body’s mineral absorption.
Having palm sugar after a heavy meal will help you clear out the intestinal tracts and generate enzymes to help the digestive system digest the food. It also provides relief from constipation.
As everyone knows, the liver is the vital organ in the human body that helps in digestion. Its role includes protein synthesis, detoxification, and the production of chemicals that help digest food.
Taking a small amount of palm sugar routinely can cleanse and detoxify your body. Naturally, it helps to detoxify the liver, which means flushing out the harmful toxins from our bodies.
So, if you want to clean your liver, have a bite of palm jaggery or sugar.
Helps in Cooling the Stomach
Palm sugar helps in retaining the stomach temperature and keeps your stomach cool and controlled. Drinking palm candy or jaggery sharbat during the months of summer will keep your body cool. Rather than having some other beverages, you can have the traditional detox drink.
The drink is prepared by using saunf (fennel seeds), dry ginger powder, and palm sugar or candy. All these are soaked in water overnight in a copper vessel and consumed next day morning to keep them hydrated.
Our elders used to drink this detox drink during summers to quench thirst and beat the extreme heat. It also boosts your energy level instantly.
Palm sugar is loaded with potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and selenium, which boosts resistance against infections and prevents free-radical damage. It also helps in increasing the total count of hemoglobin in the blood.
For Kids Development
Palm sugar is a good source of iron, and it has more nutrients that make it suitable for promoting the growth of your kids. You can use this palm sugar instead of white sugar for your 6+ month babies. Try to avoid white sugar in your kids’ diet especially in sweetened milk, puddings, porridges, and other sweets. Instead use palm sugar/syrup or honey. It has the top three nutrients, such as potassium, zinc, and iron.
Though babies are still developing, their taste buds can’t taste as ours. So these natural sweeteners can blend with your little ones, and they will accept it easily.
Promotes Musculoskeletal Health
Palm sugar has a moderate amount of potassium. However, potassium is an essential mineral that plays a significant role in the maintenance and health of bones and muscle tissues. The absence of vitamin D and calcium in our diet results in brittle and weak bones.
Nervous System Function
Palm sugar has a higher potassium and magnesium level than bananas and green vegetables that helps in regulating our nervous system. However, potassium is essential for maintaining our nervous system activity, such as a regular heartbeat and muscle contractions. Taking enough potassium can help in managing high blood pressure.
Treats Cold and Cough
Palm sugar is a natural solution for treating dry cough, cold and a sore throat especially in children. You can add 1 tablespoon of palm sugar to ginger tea as it is a perfect remedy for colds. It also helps in clearing the respiratory tract and relieves several symptoms.
Effective against Anemia
Anemia is the most common blood disorder, which is caused by the lack of hemoglobin or red blood cells. It lowers the oxygen flow to the body organs. The deficiency of iron supplements is believed to be the cause of anemia. Palm sugar is capable of preventing anemia, as it’s rich in iron and other essential minerals. By consuming palm sugar daily, adding it into our food preparations can fulfill iron requirements for anemic patients.
Relieves Menstrual Pain
Palm sugar is an effective natural treatment for menstrual problems and also provides relief from cramps. As it is rich in many essential nutrients, eating palm candy or a piece of palm jaggery can help women combat PMS symptoms, including frustration and mood swings.
If you experience sudden mood swings before your periods then you should eat a few palm sugar or a piece of palm jaggery as it helps to release endorphins. These endorphins can relax your body.
The presence of niacin in palm sugar helps to normalize the LDL cholesterol levels in our body. Niacin also helps prevent heart disease, treats type 1 Diabetes, lowers Triglycerides, improves skin, and boosts brain function. It’s also great for treating cracked lips, burst and thrush.
One of the most well-known benefits of palm sugar is its aid for weight loss. Potassium is the primary nutrient responsible for the weight loss properties of palm sugar. It helps in reducing water retention and bloated feelings, which in turn helps in weight loss.
Reduces Joint Pain
If you want to lose some weight, include this in your daily diet.
People suffering from aches and joint pains can consume palm sugar/jaggery, which can provide more relief. For improved effectiveness, it should be eaten with a piece of ginger. It can also be consumed with a glass of milk daily to strengthen the bones, thus preventing arthritis.
Palm sugar can purify the blood. Regular intake of sugar in a limited quality will cleanse the blood and keep your body healthy. Clean blood refers to a healthy body and will ensure that it is free from any disease.
Cures Urinary Tract Infections
Palm sugar is a diuretic that reduces inflammation in the bladder and cures urinary tract problems. Palm sugar with milk relieves urinary tract infection, urinary trouble, stimulating urination, and heat. Regular intake of this nutrient-rich food can quickly help with these issues.
Maintains Good Intestinal Health
Palm sugar is rich in magnesium. Every 10 grams of palm sugar contains 16mg of mineral. If you consume 10g of palm sugar, it will fulfill you with four percent of minerals required for your daily activity. Thus, eating palm sugar every day can boost good intestinal health.
POTENTIAL RISKS OF PALM SUGAR
Although palm sugar is a healthier alternative to sweeteners like honey, white sugar, or brown sugar, that should still be consumed in moderation. Consuming more sugar can lead to many health problems, that includes the following:
Studies have found that people with high-sugar diets and processed foods may increase depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and stress in both men and women.
Sugary beverages and foods are one of the leading causes of tooth decay. It feeds plaque-forming bacteria and raises the acidity level in your mouth, leading to tooth-enamel and causes cavities.
Studies have found that high-sugar diets have been linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease. It may lead to inflammation, obesity, high blood sugar, and pressure levels.
Taking excessive sugar can lead to unwanted weight gain and may put you at a greater risk of obesity. Because it’s high in calories and also offers few other nutrients. Palm sugar contains 385 calories in 100 grams, and it’s not suitable for dieting people. Having a small amount of palm sugar won’t hurt, but taking too much sugar will gain weight.
PALM SUGAR – A STOREHOUSE OF MINERALS
Palm sugar/jaggery is more commonly known as the storehouse of essential minerals that is needed for a healthy functioning body. It’s also rich in nutrients like potassium, iron, Vitamin C, protein, calcium, etc.
It contains 60 times more nutrients than commercially available sugar that are commonly sold on the market. It also consists of iron, which is an essential element for blood production. It has the right amounts of magnesium, which can help in regulating the nervous system.
Other rich nutrients and minerals available in palm sugar are potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and antioxidants, that boost immunity and prevent the body’s cells from free radicals. In India, palm sugar is used in traditional medicine since it contains many nutrients & minerals. It can heal throat and lung infections.
The Ayurveda Approach to Sugar
Ayurvedic medicine considers sweet as the most important of all six tastes and it’s suggested to be consumed the most. The sweet taste has the biomedical actions in the body of being a demulcent, expectorant, diuretic, emollient, laxative, lubricant, and anti-inflammatory.
Palm sugar is sweet and has a cooling effect. It pacifies the Vata while increasing Kapha and Pitta doshas. It is also known as medicinal sugar because it cures health issues like indigestion, cough, and constipation. It can be consumed during winters to keep the body warm.
Best sugars for Each Dosha
Kapha: Raw aged honey
Vata: Maple syrup, molasses, jaggery, Rice syrup, maple syrup, and Raw Honey
Pitta: Raw cane sugar, rice syrup, sugar, and maple syrup
Traditional Uses of Palm Sugar
Palm sugar is a natural sugar alternative to white sugar, and it’s commonly known as medicinal sugar due to its various health benefits. However, it’s an unrefined sugar, and it’s known to be rich in vitamins and minerals. Palm sugar is used extensively in both sweet and savory recipes.
Palm Candy Remedies
Palm Sugar/ candy is commonly used in south Indian native medicine to treat throat ulcers. In Tamil Nadu, a decoction called “sukku malli kaapi”(Dry Ginger coriander seeds coffee) is an excellent remedy to relieve symptoms of fever, sore throat, and heavy chest colds. It is also a traditional immunity booster.
For Preparing Sukku malli kaapi: Boil water with palm sugar/jaggery, add dry ginger powder, crushed peppercorns, and roasted aniseed. Allow it to boil for 3-5 mins. Then strain and add a spoon of ghee before drinking to cure a dry cough.
This natural sweetener is readily available in all parts of India. You need to make sure that the Palm sugar/ jaggery you purchase is 100% natural. Make this into a part of your daily diet, and you will notice the benefits on your own.