Coconut palm sugar, a type of palm sugar, is used like cane sugar as a sweetener for food and drinks. Since it is produced using a method that is free of animal products, vegans can use palm sugar as an everyday sweetener. Despite a relatively low glycemic index, you should use this sugar in moderation. During the manufacturing process, the strained sap of coconut palm flower buds is boiled until it reaches the syrup stage. Therefore, palm sugar is not a raw food product.
Coconut palm sugar is an unrefined sweetener with a glycemic index (GI) that is comparatively low for a sugar. Its GI is on average between 35 and 40, while refined table sugar reaches levels of over 60, sometimes even 70. However, there are no definitive studies that have examined its glycemic index or longer-term effects. These values should not be used as a license to overindulge in a craving for sweets.
You will find that palm sugar is not as intensely sweet as white cane sugar. It has a caramel-like taste, which adds a certain depth of flavor.
Cooks in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa use palm sugar as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes.
As with most products, coconut palm sugar is available in a wide range of prices. Since its manufacturing process is relatively labor intensive, prices for this sweetener are usually higher compared to other sugar types. Products that follow organic cultivation guidelines, where workers are paid fair wages, are typically more expensive. But even under these conditions, a higher price does not necessarily mean that the consumer will receive higher quality goods. In addition, there are suppliers who advertise raw coconut sugar, which is not possible because of the methods used to produce the sugar or syrup.
Like other sugars, coconut palm sugar needs to be stored in a cool, dry place.
While coconut palm sugar is an unrefined sweetener with a glycemic index (GI) that is lower than that of refined table sugar, you should still take care to use it in moderation as it contains almost the same amount of fructose as regular sugar and only slightly more macronutrients. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has stated that there are no advantages to using fructose as a sugar substitute in diabetic meals. Eating a diet high in fructose can have a negative effect on the metabolism, increasing the risk for obesity and metabolic syndrome.2
Production and habitat:
The plants used to produce oconut palm sugar grow in coastal areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Major suppliers are Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Cultivation and harvest:
The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) yields coconut palm sugar from the sap of its flowers. … Palm sugar is produced by boiling collected sap until it thickens. The boiled sap can be sold as palm syrup. It is sold in bottles or tins and tends to thicken and crystallize over time. The boiled sap can also be solidified and sold in the form of bricks or cakes. It can range in color from golden brown to dark brown or almost black, like Indonesian gula aren.1
The name palm sugar refers to sugar that is extracted from the sap of palm trees. Its composition differs, depending on the type of palm from which the sugar is collected. Besides the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera), which contributes the largest amount of sap processed into palm sugar, other plants such as the sugar palm (Arenga pinnata), the nipa palm (Nypa fruticans), the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera and Phoenix sylvestris) as well as plants of the genus Borassus are used to make palm sugar.
Palm sugar is a sweetener derived from any variety of palm tree. Palm sugar is sometimes qualified by the type of palm, as in coconut palm sugar. While sugars from different palms may have slightly different compositions, all are processed similarly and can be used interchangeably.1
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia. Palm sugar, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Palm_sugar
- Erhöhte Aufnahme von Fruktose ist für Diabetiker nicht empfehlenswert. Stellungnahme Nr. 041/2009 des BfR (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung) vom 6. März 2009.