Stevia vs. Palm Sugar

Q. I’ve tried Stevia, and even though I know that it is a natural sweetener, it still leaves a metallic taste in my mouth…what about Palm Sugar?  I’ve read that it is the only sweetener available to diabetics that won’t cause harm.  Is this true?

Dr. Fred:

Palm sugar comes from the flowers that grow high on coconut trees. The nectar is collected and air-dried to form the crystalline sugar. It looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar, but it’s completely natural and unrefined.

However, palm sugar is not a calorie-free sweetener. It has calories like any carbohydrate. What sets it apart is its relatively low glycemic index. So the calories are supposedly absorbed into the bloodstream at a significantly slower rate than regular refined sugar. This is the reason it appeals to those monitoring their blood-sugar levels and attempting to avoid blood-sugar spikes.

However, I am not altogether on-board with the theory that it’s good for you because it is low glycemic. Food issues are always more complex than that.

So, if you are trying to lose weight, I would avoid palm sugar. If you are a normal weight diabetic and want to give it a try, it’s easy enough to monitor your blood sugar to see if there is a spike.

That said, I would also recommend you try different brands of stevia. You may find one that’s not as bitter tasting.