Difference Between Palm Sugar and Cane Sugar (With Table)

Sugar plays an important role in every food that we consume whether it is cooked at home or bought packed from the market. It not only adds flavor to the food but also increases longevity. Some food industries use sugar as a bulking agent. The two common types of sugar consumed daily by most people are palm sugar and cane sugar.

Palm Sugar vs Cane Sugar

The main difference between palm sugar and cane sugar is that palm sugar is a natural sugar obtained from the sap of palm trees while cane sugar is a natural sugar derived from sugarcane. Palm sugar contains nutrients and is a natural sugar alternative while cane sugar is sucrose and carbohydrates that are produced by the plant during the process of photosynthesis.

Palm sugar was originally grown in the coastal and tropical regions of Asia. Palm sugar is also called jaggery. It requires minimum processing and does not include any chemicals. It is also a great alternative to sugar as it contains several nutrients and has a low glycemic index.

While cane sugar undergoes several industrial processes after raw extraction from the sugarcane plant. The sugarcane plant is widely grown in the warm and temperate regions of Southeast Asia, India and New Guinea, and Thailand.

Comparison Table Between Palm Sugar and Cane Sugar

Parameters of comparisonPalm SugarCane Sugar
Scientific nameArenga pinnata Saccharum officinarum
OriginCoastal and tropical regions of Asia and a native sugar source in China, Indonesia, and Malaysia Southeast Asia, Indian continent, New Guinea and Brazil, Thailand
Derivation Sap of palm trees From sugarcane and then undergoes several industrial processes
Nutrition ValueRich source of potassium, zinc and phosphorus Rich source of carbohydrates, sucrose and can provide energy
ApplicationAs a natural sweetener in various sweet and savory dishes As a sweetener, in salad oils, salad dressings, and widely used in the jam, jelly, and mayonnaise industry

What is Palm Sugar?

Palm sugar is a natural sugar. It is a type of sweetener made from a variety of palm trees. It plays a pivotal role as an ingredient in sweet and savory dishes. It is widely used in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Some major sources of palm sugar are date, nipa, palmyra, coconut, and sugar palms.

The process of production of palm sugar involves boiling the collected sap. When it thickens and cools down, it can be stored and sold as palm syrup. It has the characteristics of thickening and crystallizing over some time, in the container. The boiled sap is also solidified in the form of bricks and cakes. These have a high demand in the market. It comes in various colors like different shades of brown and black.

Palm sugar is called by various names in different parts of the world. The name depends on the process of production, ingredients, or the variant used. Some common local names of palm sugar are gula Jawa and gula Melaka, called in the Indonesia and Malaysia region respectively. Some variants of palm sugar are obtained from the sap of the flower bud too.

Palm sugar is a good source of nutrition as it contains a high amount of potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. The storage of palm sugar can be tricky as it can go bad easily. Storage in a dark, cool place with properly sealed can increase its longevity.

What is Cane Sugar?

Cane sugar is a natural sugar obtained exclusively from the sugarcane species. The sugarcane plant grows in warm and temperate regions of Southeast Asia, India, and New Guinea. It plays a pivotal role as a sweetener, salad dressings, and even in mayonnaise. It is also widely used in the jam and jelly industry.

The process of production of cane sugar involves harvesting, cutting, crushing, juice extraction, clarification, evaporation, crystallization, centrifugation, and refining procedure. During the production procedure, sugarcane not only produces cane sugar but also other products like bagasse, molasses, and filter cake. These by-products can be further used in several other processes.

Just after extraction, cane sugar has a color that can be removed by the use of carbon or use of special resins. The sugarcane plants require tropical and subtropical climates with annual moisture to grow. Sugarcane crops have the potential to produce 15kg of cane from a meter per square feet field. Hence, it is a major crop and industry in the Southeastern region of the globe.

Brazil is the largest producer of cane sugar in the world and India is the 2nd largest. Over 30 million hectares of the field are devoted to sugarcane cultivation worldwide. Over 130 countries produce cane sugar. The largest customer market of cane sugar is in the United States, Russia, India, and China.

Main Differences Between Palm Sugar and Cane Sugar

  1. Palm sugar has a lower glycemic index which is around 35 while cane sugar has a higher glycemic index which is around 60.
  2. Palm sugar is obtained by reducing the sap of palm plants while cane sugar is obtained by the reduction process of cane sugar.
  3. Palm sugar is less sweet than cane sugar while sugar is sweeter than most other natural sugars.
  4. Palm sugar has nutrients like potassium, zinc, and phosphorus while cane sugar does not contain any nutrients and only carbohydrates and calories.
  5. Palm sugar is considered healthier than cane sugar and can be a great alternative to sugar while cane sugar is not a healthier choice.

Conclusion

Sugars play a vital role in food. Sugar is a rich source of sucrose and carbohydrates and hence can act as a source of high energy to the body. The various organs of the body also require a minimum amount of sugar to function.

But high consumption of sugar can lead to several diseases and complications like obesity, high blood pressure, fatty liver, and diabetes. It can also increase the risk of a heart attack. So, it is essential to consume sugar in controlled amounts and switch to healthier alternatives.

References

  1. https://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:272453
  2. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/21/6/21_857/_article/-char/ja/
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