Panela is unrefined whole cane sugar, similar to health benefits of palm sugar that appears as a solid form of sucrose formed by the boiling and evaporation of sugarcane’s juice.
It is typically found in Central and Latin America, and indeed it has different names in different Latin American countries such as piloncillo in Mexico, or chancaca in Peru.
In general, panela is sold in various forms, such as in solid blocks, granules or liquid forms, and they are normally used in the making of vinegars, wines, confectioneries, and baking. These are more information about panela as well as the health benefits of panela sugar.
Nutritional Facts of Panela Sugar
- Serving Size – 1 oz (28 g)
- Calories – 106 kcal
- Total Fat – 0 g
- Saturated Fat – 0 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat – 10 g
- Monounsaturated Fat – 0 g
- Trans Fat – 0 g
- Cholesterol – 0 mg
- Sodium – 0 mg
- Potassium – 0 mg
- Total Carbohydrates – 28 g
- Dietary Fibre – 20 g
- Sugar – 28 g
- Protein – 0 g
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin A – 0%
- Vitamin C benefits – 0%
- Calcium – 0%
- Iron – 0%
All the information above are in relation to a 2,000-calorie diet. The percentage of daily value (% of DV) may differ depending on personal calorie needs.
Uses of Panela Sugar
Panela is widely used in Latin America for various culinary purposes. These are some of the diverse applications of panela by country;
- In Peru, panela is used to make canchaca, a sweet sauce that has unrefined sugar cane as its base ingredient.
- In Colombia, panela is often made into a popular beverage named “aguapanela,” which is so popular that it became one of the most widely consumed beverages there. Aguapanela is basically a liquified infusion of panela juice.
- Meanwhile, in Mexico panela is known as the “piloncillo.” Piloncillo is the basic ingredient of many Mexican desserts such as flan or champurrado (chocolate porridge). Mexican piloncillo is also blended with other spices such as cocoa, anise or cinnamon.
- And finally, in the Philippines panela can either be used as an ingredient for desserts or eaten straight away.
What are its Health Benefits?
- Panela Sugar has Low Glycemic Index
Panela producers and manufacturers often claim that panela is a healthier alternative to white sugar, while citing low glycemic index as one of its reasons. Glycemic index is the value associated with the carbohydrates present inside a foodstuff and how it directly affects someone’s glucose levels. Panela or brown sugars in general have a glycemic index of 64 whereas white sugar has a glycemic index of 68.
- Panela Sugar has High Micronutrients
Panela sugar is also considered as non-centrifugal sugars, in which it has high micronutrient contents. Micronutrients are essential elements required by all living organisms in order to sustain life and health in all. Meanwhile, micronutrients themselves can be present in the forms of vitamins and minerals, for example.
- Panela is Rich of Various Vitamins
In relation to point number 2, panela is rich of various vitamins, which are vitamins A, B, C, D, and E., Vitamin A is important for the vision, immune system and reproduction, however the largest vitamin A benefits is most visible in eyesight. Vitamin B are groups of 8 soluble vitamins for metabolism, while vitamin C is needed for the development, maintenance and repairment of all bodily tissues.
The 8 types of vitamin B are B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), as well as B12 (cobalamin). Vitamin D are fat-soluble vitamins for immunity, and finally vitamin E acts as antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals.
- Panela also Contains Plenty of Minerals
Still connected to the previous 2 points, panela also contains plenty of minerals, namely calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc as well as manganese. Benefits of calcium is meant for building and maintaining strong and dense bones.
Phosphorus is for the growth and repair of body cells plus tissues. Magnesium is a nutrient that is important for various processes in the body, such as the muscular and nerve functions, and managing both blood sugar levels plus blood pressure. Copper works like iron in terms of forming red blood cells, and zinc is for proper growth and maintenance of the human body. Finally, manganese is used for serving the normal brain and nervous function.
- Panela Provides Us Energy
Fifth, panela provides us with energy. The nutritional facts data above shows that 28 grams of panela provides us with calories as much as 106 kcal.
- Panela Does Not Contain Empty Calories
One notable difference in between normal white sugar and brown sugar like panela is that it does not contain empty calories. The term empty calories here mean that although it does provide our body with essential nutrients, in return it does not take away other important nutrients from our body just like how white sugar does it.
- Panela is a Source of Carbohydrates
In addition to glucose and fructose, panela also has sucrose which is the form of carbohydrates found inside panela. Sucrose is the technical name for table sugar or white sugar, which is made of a combination of each one glucose molecule and fructose molecule bound together.
- Panela is Deemed as Healthier than White Sugar
Panela is coloured that way because of the molasses it has. Indeed, the molasses are also thought to be the primary reason why brown sugar like panela is deemed to be healthier than white sugar. And then, panela also contains the nutrients listed above such as iron, magnesium, and calcium with no empty calories as compared to white sugar. However, on top of it all, it is important to note that panela does not guarantee organic processing compared to white sugar.