Not medicine but a light sweet
For many of us, pekmez is no different than any cough syrup you might pick up at the pharmacy and, for younger generations in Turkey, it is what their mothers make them drink with milk when they are sick or is something they take by the teaspoon to grow more healthily.
However, back when crystallized sugar as we know it was a luxury item (around 30 years ago), pekmez was a very special source of sweetness in a category along with honey. It was pekmez that gave baked goods their sweet taste back then. Over time, pekmez became less consumed and thus less produced, turning into a source of nutrition that people mostly turn to when they are ill.
Professor Ayhan Topuz, who has done extensive research on pekmez, notes, “Pekmez is not a medicine, but a source of nutrition that really supports the body.” A professor at the Aegean University’s food engineering department, Topuz says, “Scientific studies have not actually proven that pekmez works to prevent osteoporosis or other health problems, which is what many people believe, so we really cannot say it is that great for health.”
Another professor at the Aegean University’s food engineering department is Dr. Sibel Karakaya, who notes that pekmez does not in fact contain huge amounts of iron, contrary to popular belief. She says that both red meat and chicken meat are better sources of iron than pekmez. Importantly, Karakaya also stresses that people should not give pekmez to babies, despite many articles posted online that urge people to do so.
The explosion in industrial producers making pekmez in recent years has also worked to bring pekmez to market shelves right next to jams and jellies. One very popular brand is Tokat Zile pekmez, which has really managed to make a name for itself.
Be careful when buying pekmez
When purchasing pekmez, look out for extremely dark, cloudy, or crusty pekmez; if you see any of these signs, don’t buy it. Another suspicious factor when buying pekmez is extremely cheap prices; you could be about to buy pekmez that has sugary syrup mixed into it.
The natural sugar present in pekmez is quickly soaked up by the body, providing it with immediate energy.
Most of the sugar in pekmez is either glucose or fructose, but some pekmez, such as carob bean pekmez (harnup pekmezi), has significant amounts of sucrose.
Since it does contain high amounts of sugar, pekmez must be consumed very carefully by diabetics. Pekmez made from soft fruits with seeds, such as apples and pears, tend to have more fructose. This is an advantage for people with hypoglycemia, as it means blood sugar levels rise and fall more slowly. So, people who suffer from diabetes should look out for pekmez with higher levels of fructose. In addition to sugars, it also contains important minerals, along with phenol compounds, organic acids and some water soluble vitamins. These are beneficial to human health and nutrition.
There are between 250-300 calories in 100 grams of pekmez. This is around 10-20 percent of an adult’s daily energy needs. Carob bean pekmez is the richest in terms of mineral content. Carob bean pekmez also contains the compound pinitol, which is known to balance blood sugar levels. Juniper berry pekmez (ardıç pekmezi) is another variation of this sweet syrup and is known to work as an antioxidant in the body.
Resource: Today’s Zaman