An Insidious Enemy
Processed sugar is everywhere these days. Those trying to avoid it can attest to the fact that it can be a tough task to find bread or ketchup that does not contain high-fructose corn syrup.
So why is sugar bad for you? Well, there are a number of reasons. It feeds Candida yeast, which is a natural resident of the human gut. However, excess sugar allows Candida yeast to grow out of control, supplanting the other healthy gut flora.
Not only that, but consuming processed sugar causes blood sugar spikes, which cause lethargy, unhealthy cravings, and eventually even obesity, diabetes, nerve damage, kidney problems, and a whole host of other deleterious effects.
In Search of Alternatives
So, it makes perfect sense that those in the natural health community have long been on the hunt for a healthy, natural alternative to table sugar.
Some popular alternatives exist, such as stevia, and agave nectar, but these, too have drawbacks. Stevia’s aftertaste is a common complaint, and agave nectar is highly processed, and contains nearly double the fructose of high-fructose corn syrup. Yikes!
So, the search for a healthy substitute for processed sugar continues. Enter palm sugar.
Hope on the Horizon
You’ve probably noticed that there is a lot of enthusiasm surrounding palm sugar these days. So, what is it, and why all the fuss?
Palm sugar is obtained from a variety of palm trees, by making several incisions into the stem of the tree, and boiling the resulting sap until it reaches a thick consistency.
Because it is not refined in the same way that other highly processed sugars are, it retains its natural nutrients. Palm sugar is rich in B vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and pyridoxine, and minerals, such as potassium, iron, and zinc.
As palm sugar has a low glycemic index, the body absorbs it more slowly than other types of more refined sweeteners. This is good news for those attempting to avoid the ill effects of blood sugar spikes that refined white sugar is notorious for.
OK, But How Does It Taste?
For anyone who wants to occasionally indulge their sweet tooth in a healthier way knows, taste is important. After all, even if the health advantages are numerous and sundry, if the flavor doesn’t make you want to dance a little bit, well…
Fortunately, taste is the arena in which palm sugar really edges out the competition. It is noted for its rich, butterscotch-like flavor. Some folks even claim it adds a special something to sweet treats that regular old sugar just can’t match. Better than sugar? You read correctly.
It also lends itself to baked goods, as it behaves in a remarkable similar manner to normal sugar under heat. This is a very real advantage, as many other sugar substitutes simply don’t melt or dissolve in the same way.
[Photo Credit: thesweetbeet]