is made from the sap of the Arenga sugar palm tree which is why palm sugar is also known as Arenga sugar. The sap of the tree is extracted from the inflorescence of the tree which is the thick stem on which a cluster of flowers grows. The sap is then boiled until it forms a syrup that is then sold.
The sap may also be allowed to crystallize so that it can be sold as a small cake of sugar instead of palm sugar syrup. Palm sugar can also be obtained from other trees such as the date palm or sugar palm trees. Coconut sugar is the most well-known type of palm sugar. It is produced in the same way as other palm sugars, and it is very common in Africa and Asia. Jaggery is one of the most common types of palm sugar in India and it is often used in sweetmeats and local delicacies.
Nutritional Facts of Palm Sugar
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Health Benefits of Palm Sugar
The major components of palm sugar are sucrose, glucose and fructose. The quantities of each of these components of palm sugar nutrition will differ depending on the type of palm used to obtain the sugar and on the processing methods employed. Organic foods
are grown without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and although they are more expensive, they have no chemical residue. This is why you should choose organic palm sugar or organic coconut palm sugar when shopping for natural palm sugar. Here are a few palm sugar benefits:
- Palm Sugar Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS): Oral rehydration solutions are used to maintain the electrolyte balance within the cells of our body. These solutions are essential in cases of diarrhea or vomiting where the individual loses a large amount of fluids along with minerals and salts. To make an oral rehydration solution with palm sugar, mix 6 teaspoons of this sugar and Ĺ teaspoon of salt in one liter of lukewarm water.
- Boosts Energy Levels: It takes very little time for palm sugar to be broken down and absorbed by the body. In fact, this digestive process begins as soon as the sugar enters your mouth and comes in contact with saliva. You can mix a few teaspoons of palm sugar in your morning glass of fresh fruit juice to sweeten your drink and give you a much needed energy boost at the start of your day. You can also have a spoon of palm sugar with your cup of tea in the evening to keep your energy levels elevated.
- Palm Sugar for Diabetes Patients: Manufacturers of palm sugar often claim that it has a low glycemic index which means that consuming palm sugar will not cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. The Philippine Coconut Authority states that the glycemic index of coconut palm sugar is 35, which makes it a low glycemic index food. However, other authoritative sources, including the University of Sydney in Australia, put the glycemic index of coconut palm sugar at 54 which is the same as that of regular sugar. To be on the safe side, it would be wise to follow the recommendations of the ADA (American Diabetes Association). The organization states that people with diabetes can consume coconut palm sugar but they should treat it in the same manner as regular sugar.
- Natural Unbleached Sweetener: Bone char is made by burning animal bones and it is often used in the refining process to remove organic and inorganic impurities. The bone char comes in contact with the sugar solution which is a concern to vegans and vegetarians. Additionally, there are other de-colorizing and de-ashing agents that may be used to bleach and refine sugar. The process of refining strips the unrefined sugar of a lot of its nutrients. Palm sugar is unrefined and so it contains a few vitamins and several minerals that would help to ensure that you meet your daily nutritional requirements. Most palm sugars contain potassium, nitrogen, phosphorous, iron and zinc. These minerals boost brain function and bolster the immune system.
- Promotes Musculoskeletal Health: Palm sugar, especially coconut palm sugar contains a modest amount of potassium. 1 teaspoon of coconut palm sugar provides 1 per cent of a personís daily requirement for potassium. The average American consumes a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar a day which means that if an individual switched to coconut palm sugar, he would be able to meet 22 per cent of his potassium requirement through palm sugar alone! 22 spoons of sugar is obviously extremely unhealthy but if you substitute your regular sugar for coconut palm sugar in your tea and other daily beverages, you would be able to meet between 5-10 per cent of your potassium requirements. Potassium is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the health and maintenance of bone and muscle tissue.
Palm Sugar Recipes
Palm Sugar Balls Ingredients:
- 500g sticky/sweet (glutinous) rice flour
- 1 Ĺ cups of fresh coconut milk
- Ĺ cup palm sugar
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- Cut the block of palm sugar into small cubes so that each piece is approximately Ĺ inch by Ĺ inch. Set aside.
- Pour the fresh coconut milk into a large bowl and whisk it thoroughly until it starts to thicken and then set it aside.
- Strain the rice flour using a sieve to make sure that there are no lumps in the flour.
- Add the whisked coconut milk to the rice flour along with the cardamom powder and mix it thoroughly to form a smooth batter.
- Pour the batter into a non-stick saucepan and cook it on low flame until it thickens and leaves the sides of the pan.
- Take it off the stove and let it cool until the dough is very warm but not hot. Knead the dough thoroughly.
- Take a small portion of the dough and use it to envelop a cube of the palm sugar. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands so that it becomes a smooth ball and keep it aside. Repeat this with the remaining cubes of sugar.
- Heat water in a large pan until it starts to boil and then place the cubes into the boiling water one at a time. Allow them to cook for at least 5-7 minutes before taking them out of the water and placing them on kitchen towels or a clean cloth to soak up the excess water.
- Roll each ball in the desiccated coconut and serve them warm.