Sometimes it seems like the search for healthy, natural sweeteners is a whirlwind of information. I started writing about stevia in 1997, back in the days when the FBI seized stevia products and arrested the owners of the companies that made them. And today, stevia has become widespread as a safe, natural sweetener. True, this does not make it super-popular. Many people complain about the peculiar aftertaste of stevia, as well as the fact that it does not melt and cannot be used in cooking like sugar. So the search continues.
Agave juice, a low-glycemic sugar made from the bulb-like roots of the agave plant, has been favored in the natural health food community for several years. Agave tastes great and has a relatively low glycemic index, but there is ongoing debate about how natural it really is and whether the index is really low enough. In the past, some suppliers of agave juice have been found to substitute high fructose corn syrup for it.
But now a new natural wholesome sweetener is coming to the fore, and that sounds very promising. Its name is palm sugar.
Palm sugar is a low glycemic crystalline nutritious sweetener that dissolves, melts, and tastes almost like sugar, but is completely natural and unrefined. It is extracted from flowers that grow high on coconut trees and are opened to collect flower nectar. This nectar is then dried naturally to form brown crystals that are rich in a variety of key vitamins, minerals, nutrients including potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6.
Palm sugar is never refined or bleached, unlike white sugar. So natural nutrients remain in the net. And this is extremely rare for sweeteners, since most of them undergo serious processing and purification. Even stevia, when it is made into white powder, is refined (generally it is a green herb).
By the way, although you can do everything with palm sugar as with regular sugar, it tastes much better!