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Palm Sugar: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more


Palm trees always take us to serene tropical beach vibes. Borassus flabellifer or palmyra palm, belonging to the Arecaceae family, is commonly cultivated in India, Malaysia and South East Asia. It grows from the Persian Gulf to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border and sometimes in warmer regions like Southern Florida and Hawaii. Palm sugar is produced by dehydrating the palm sap. The palm tree has environmental as well as socio-economic importance. Palm trees require minimum water for their growth and to restore the damaged soil. Parts of the palm tree, like the trunk, leaves, fruit and seeds are used to obtain different products. Palmyra palm yields a higher amount of sugar than sugarcane. Palm sugar has been gaining popularity worldwide due to its natural source, health benefits and minimum processing.1 Let us glance through some of the health benefits of palm sugar. 

palm sugar benefits

Did you know?

Nutritional Value of Palm Sugar: 

Palm sugar may contain several bioactive compounds like flavonoids and some phenolic compounds. It may also contain minerals and vitamin C.1 Additionally, some other nutritional components in 50 g of palm sugar are as follows: 

Nutritional Component Nutritional Value (in g/ 100 cc) 
Ash 0.54 g/ 100 cc 
Reduced sugar 0.96 g/ 100 cc 
Nitrogen 0.056 g/ 100 cc 
Protein  0.35 g/ 100 cc 
Total sugar 10.93 g/ 100 cc 
Phosphorus  0.14 g/ 100 cc 
Iron  0.4 g/ 100 cc 
Vitamin B1 3.9 IU 
Vitamin C 13.25 mg/100 cc 

Table 1: Nutritional Value of Palm Sugar2 

To keep our body’s electrolyte balance in check, I recommend use of oral rehydration treatments. In situations of diarrhoea or vomiting, where the person loses a lot of fluids, minerals, and salts, these remedies are crucial. Mix six tablespoons of palm sugar with one-half teaspoon of salt in one litre of warm water to create an oral rehydration solution.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Palm Sugar: 

Several studies show that palm sugar may show the following properties: 

  • It may have antioxidant properties1 
  • It may have antibiotic properties 
  • It may have anti-ulcer properties3 
  • It may protect against cancer4 
  • It may protect the heart health5 
  • It may possess anti-asthmatic properties 6 
  • It may have properties to lower blood pressure6 

Potential Uses of Palm Sugar for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of palm sugar are: 

1. Potential use of palm sugar as an antioxidant 

Palm sugar may act as antioxidant due to the presence of bioactive compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids. Studies have shown that palm sugar may show its antioxidant potential by deactivating harmful free radicals. Free radicals are atoms that damage the cells to cause diseases.1 However, further studies are required to check the effect of palm sugar on relieving oxidative stress and humans. 

2. Potential use of palm sugar to protect from DNA damage 

Palm sugar may possess the ability to protect the DNA from damage. DNA damage may lead to various diseases like cancer and genetic disorders. The result of a study suggested that palm sugar extract may protect the DNA from damage by harmful free radicals. This may be due to the antioxidant activity of bioactive compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols.1 However, more research is yet to be done to check the protective effect of palm sugar against DNA damage. 

3. Potential use of palm sugar for diabetic ulcers 

Diabetic ulcers are one of the most common complications of type-2 diabetes that occur in the lower part of body. They may be caused due to infections, disorders of the nervous system or impaired blood flow. The presence of these conditions may make the body more susceptible to infections, cause tissue death and delay wound healing. Diabetic ulcers are infected sores, and it is crucial for the timely wound healing to prevent infections and complications. Palm sugar contains several macronutrients and micronutrients like vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and C, proteins and minerals that may aid wound healing. Ratnasari et al. conducted a study in 2021 that may have confirmed that palm sugar may heal diabetic ulcers.3 However, you must consult your doctor instead of self-medicating if you have diabetic ulcers. 

4. Potential use of palm sugar for cancer 

Palm sugar may reduce the risk of colon cancer through its antioxidant activity. In addition, vitamins and minerals in palm sugar may help to lower the cancer risk.4 More studies are yet to be done on humans to check the anti-cancer activity of palm sugar. Cancer is a serious disease; therefore, you must seek medical help instead of self-medicating. 

5. Potential use of palm sugar to reduce fatigue and boost energy 

Lactic acid accumulation in the muscles may cause fatigue and cramps during and after exercise. A study showed that the ability to eliminate free radicals from the body might reduce the levels of lactic acid in the blood and reduce muscle fatigue.  

Additionally, palm sugars contain carbohydrates which may act as an energy source. This may be beneficial for sportspersons who require energy sources from carbohydrates. A study showed that palm sugar might be a good energy source, and sportsmen could exercise better after its consumption.5 Further studies are required to confirm if palm sugar can reduce muscle fatigue and boost energy. 

6. Potential use of palm sugar for the production of red blood cells and antibodies 

Palm sugar may aid the production of red blood cells and antibodies. This may be due to the presence of vitamin B6 in palm sugars.3 However, more research is yet to be done to confirm if palm sugar can help in the formation of red blood cells and antibodies. 

7. Potential use of palm sugar in lowering the glycemic index  

The Glycemic index is a value that measures the increase in blood sugar level in the presence of a specific food. Coconut sugar, a type of palm sugar may have several health benefits due to its low glycemic index. Coconut sugar may reduce the glycemic index values of other food products also.4 

8. Potential use of palm sugar as a natural sweetener 

Palm sugar may be used as a natural sweetener. Palm sugar has a lower glycemic index, hence it may be beneficial for those with high blood sugar levels.4 

Though some studies show the benefits of palm sugar in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of palm sugar on human health. 

Despite coming from distinct sources, both table sugar and palm sugar share a similar chemical makeup. I recently read an article from the British Dental Journal with dental health recommendations, which says table sugar contains more than 99 per cent sucrose, but palm sugar has a sucrose concentration of between 70 and 80 per cent. Although palm sugar is less refined and contains more nutrients, the article advises using it sparingly and treating it the same as table sugar. Additionally, it mentions that it damages teeth like consuming sugar.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Palm Sugar? 

Palm sugar can be included in the diet in the following ways: 

  • It can be added to various green teas. 
  • It can be added to lentils. 
  • It can be a part of puddings, pancakes and biscuits. 
  • It is often added to masala chai as well. 
  • Pad Thai, a Thai dish also uses palm sugar as one of its ingredients. 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Likewise, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Palm Sugar: 

Palm sugar is a natural substance and has no specific side effects when taken in normal quantities However, if any side effects are noticed with its use, you must seek medical help immediately. You must consult your ayurvedic physician, who has prescribed palm sugar.   

Also Read: Is Jaggery Good for Diabetes? Evaluating the Effects on Blood Sugar Levels

Precaution to Take with Palm Sugar: 

As with any other general medicine, general precautions should be taken with palm sugar. Pregnant women and lactating mothers should be extra cautious. You must consult your doctor before having palm sugar. Precaution should be taken before giving palm sugar to the elderly or children. In such cases, you must have palm sugar only if your doctor prescribes it. 

Also Read: Is Fruit Sugar Bad for You? Research-Based Health Implications Revealed

Interaction with Other Drugs: 

There are not enough studies on the interaction of palm sugar with other drugs. Further studies on the interaction of palm sugar are yet to be done. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you are on any other medication before consuming palm sugar. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the health benefits of palm sugar? 

Palm sugar may act as an antioxidant and protect from DNA damage and cancer. It may also be beneficial in the case of diabetic ulcers. Further, it may lower blood pressure, enhance digestion and reduce fatigue. It can also be used as a natural sweetener. However, further studies are to be established to see the benefits of the herb on human health. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you experience any symptoms of the disease.1,3-6 

2) What is the nutritional value of palm sugar? 

Palm sugars may contain bioactive compounds like flavonoids and phenolic compounds. It may also contain sugar, nitrogen, protein, vitamin B1 and C minerals like phosphorus and iron.1,2 

3) Can we use palm sugar as a sweetener? 

Yes, palm sugar can be used as an alternative sweetener. Palm sugar has a lower glycemic index, hence it may be beneficial for those with high blood sugar levels.4 

4) What are the side effects of palm sugar? 

Palm sugar is a natural substance with minimum side effects. However, if any side effects are noticed on using it, you must seek medical help immediately. You must consult your ayurvedic physician, who has prescribed palm sugar. They will be able to treat you effectively. 

5) Does palm sugar help in cancer? 

Yes, palm sugar may help in the case of colon cancer due to its antioxidant properties. However, you must seek proper treatment and not self-medicate if you have been diagnosed with cancer.4 


1) Srikaeo K, Sangkhiaw J, Likittrakulwong W. Productions and functional properties of palm sugars. Walailak Journal of Science and Technology (WJST). 2019;16(11):897-907. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334635260_Productions_and_Functional_Properties_of_Palm_Sugars 

2) Johnson DV. Tropical palms. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; 2011. Available  

from: https://www.fao.org/3/i1971e/i1971e00.pdf  

3) Ratnasari D, Daniati E, Suliyawati E, Farhan Z. The Effect Of Wound Care With Palm Sugar On Diabetic 

Ulcer Repairing In Type 2 Diabetes Patients. Eduvest-Journal Of Universal Studies. 2021 Dec 20;1(12):1 

473. Available from: https://eduvest.greenvest.co.id/index.php/edv/article/view/303 

4) Saputro AD, Van de Walle D, Dewettinck K. Palm sap sugar: A review. Sugar Tech. 2019 Dec;21(6):862-7. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12355-019-00743-8 

5) Ray HR, Abdulrahman MN. The Effect of Consumption of Palm Sugar on Cardiovascular Endurance and Lactic Acid. Available from: https://www.scitepress.org/Papers/2017/70638/70638.pdf 

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