Nutrition
Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Palm Sugar for Diabetes

The first thought that comes to mind when you think of healthy food is cutting sugar from the diet. But the availability of healthy sweeteners makes it possible for people to satisfy their pellet with their favourite desserts without affecting their health. A few of these healthy sugar substitutes are palm sugar, stevia, advantame, and yacon syrup.Palm sugar is derived from different types of palm trees and is named based on the palm tree from which it is extracted. India's common palm sugars are coconut palm sugar and date palm sugar.

The palm sugar is produced by boiling the collected sap of palm trees. Its manufacturing does not require the addition of chemicals. As it is consumed in a simple form, it is a rich source of minerals and vitamins. If you are wondering if palm sugar is a healthy sugar or "Is palm sugar good for diabetics," let's find the answer to this question in the article.

Nutritional Profile

One tablespoon of palm sugar contains:

  • Carbohydrate 15 gm
  • Protein 0 gm
  • Fat 0 gm
  • Fibre 0 gm
  • Sugar 15 gm
  • Total calories 54

Palm sugar is also a rich source of minerals like zinc, iron, potassium, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. Palm sugar also contains Vitamin B, a small number of antioxidants, flavonoids, and amino acids, making it a healthier substitute for table sugar.

The Glycaemic index of palm sugar is low, i.e., 35. This low glycaemic index prevents a sudden increase in blood glucose levels after consuming palm sugar and makes it safe for people with diabetes.

Jaggery is the commonly consumed form of sugar. Date palm jaggery made from the dates palm trees is considered the healthiest form of jaggeries. It has a high nutritious value and low glycaemic index compared to sugarcane jaggery, making date palm jaggery for diabetes safer.

But when compared to palm sugar, palm jaggery glycaemic index score is high (41). So the amount of palm jaggery in the diet of people with diabetes must be minimal.

Also read about Low GI Foods.

Advantages of Palm Sugar for Diabetes

  • The low glycaemic index of palm sugar helps people with diabetes maintain their blood glucose levels. It also prevents the complications associated with uncontrolled blood sugar levels.
  • Palm sugar contains inulin, which is dietary fibre. It also helps to control blood sugar levels.
  • The antioxidants in palm sugar help protect people with diabetes from other chronic diseases.
  • The fermented carbohydrates in palm sugar reduce insulin resistance, making it beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Along with palm sugar, palm fruit, like coconut and dates, are a standard part of the diet in India. If you wonder, "is palm fruit good for diabetics, " the answer is yes! Date palm fruit contains polyphenols that are antioxidants and considered suitable for patients with diabetes. Similarly, coconut has numerous benefits for patients with diabetes.
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Ways to Consume Palm Sugar

Palm sugar is added as a sweetener in tea and coffee. It can also be used in baking as its caramel flavour enhances the taste. It is also sprinkled over pancakes to add an earthy and unique flavour to the dish. It is also an essential ingredient in savoury dishes like curries and chicken in Asia, as it helps balance the flavours.

Best Time to Consume Palm Sugar

You can consume palm sugar at any time during the day. But other forms of palm sugar like palm jaggery require you to regulate and monitor its consumption due to palm jaggery glycaemic index value, especially if combined with other carbohydrate-rich food items.

Risks of Overconsumption of Palm Sugar

Palm sugar contains 71% sucrose, 3% glucose, and 3% fructose, which can increase blood glucose levels like table sugar. Hence, it is essential to include the right proportion of palm sugar in the diet. If the amount of palm sugar in the diet is not controlled, it can lead to various health-related issues, including:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Obesity and weight gain
  • Cardiac complications due to uncontrolled diabetes
  • Tooth decay

Other Health Benefits of Palm Sugar

  • Palm sugar can be used in oral rehydration solutions to restore electrolyte balance in the body. These solutions benefit individuals with dehydration due to excessive vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Palm jaggery glycaemic index value indicates its ability to release glucose instantly. It helps to boost energy. Simple sugars like fructose and sucrose in palm sugar are easy to digest and boost energy levels instantly.
  • As palm sugar does not require refining and the addition of any chemical for its synthesis, it is a rich source of minerals and vitamins.
  • The minerals and vitamins boost the immune system and are essential for brain functioning.
  • Manganese in palm sugar increases bone strength and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium in palm sugar provides relief from joint pain.
  • Potassium in palm sugar maintains the muscle tissue and is essential for musculoskeletal health.
  • Palm jaggery is a rich source of antioxidants and safeguards the body from the harmful impacts of free radicals.

Bottomline

Palm sugar is unrefined sugar extracted from palm trees. It is considered safe for patients with diabetes if consumed in limited amounts. Its glycaemic index is low as compared to cane sugar. Hence, it helps to keep blood sugar levels in control.  Palm jaggery is a common form of palm sugar used in India. Palm jaggery glycaemic index is higher than palm sugar. Hence, its intake must be limited to prevent a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Few people prefer to use palm fruit like dates as a sweetener. Hence, a question arises "is palm fruit good for diabetics?" The answer is yes; the high nutritional value of palm fruit also has additional health benefits for people with diabetes.

FAQs

1. Which sugar is best for people with diabetes?

Among India's most commonly used forms of sugar, coconut palm sugar and date palm sugar have a low glycaemic index. This prevents a sudden increase in blood sugar levels and makes them best for people with diabetes.

2. Is palm sugar better than cane sugar?

Palm sugar has a low glycaemic index and more nutrients as compared to cane sugar. These nutrients have various health benefits making palm sugar a better and healthier option than cane sugar.

3. What are the Benefits of Palm Sugar?

Calcium in palm sugar helps prevent osteoporosis, and potassium benefits musculoskeletal health. Various minerals, amino acids, and vitamins in palm sugar boost immunity and are essential for brain functioning. Palm sugar is beneficial for patients with diabetes as it does not cause a sudden increase in blood glucose levels.

4. Does palm jaggery increase sugar levels?

Compared to palm sugar, palm jaggery glycaemic index is higher (41). This indicates that palm jaggery will increase blood sugar levels. But the glucose level increase will be less than table sugar. Hence, palm jaggery must be consumed in moderation.

References

  • https://www.webmd.com/diet/palm-sugar-health-benefits

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