Palm sugar was originally made from the sap of the Palmyra palm, the date palm or the sugar date palm. Now it is also made from the sap of Arenga pinnata (sugar palm) and the nipah palm, and may therefore also be sold as “arenga sugar”. Palm sugar is often labelled under various other names reflecting the several different species of palm utilised and its wide production area across Africa and Asia, i.e. coconut sugar, arenga sugar, nipa sugar.
Researchers analyzed and found that unrefined palm sugar is higher in antioxidants than refined cane sugars. According to the Phillipine Department of Agriculture, coconut palm sugar contains several nutrients. Most notable of these are the minerals Iron, Zinc, Calcium and Potassium, along with some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants that may also provide some health benefits. Then it contains a fiber called Inulin, which may slow glucose absorption and explain why coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index than regular table sugar.
Much has been made about palm sugar’s low glycemic index (GI), a ranking of how carbohydrates impact blood glucose levels). palm sugar makers report that its GI is 35, compared with honey at 55 and table sugar at 68.