If you are a label reader, you have, no doubt, happened upon the listing of the ingredient “evaporated cane juice” (or “evaporated cane sugar”). Most likely it has appeared in an assortment of “natural” products that you may have gathered up from the local natural food store or Whole Foods. I know many people are somewhat comforted by the idea that, instead of sugar, you have a sweetener that is “evaporated” with “cane” and “juice” origins. But are we being duped?
Yes, and no.
In reality, “evaporated cane juice” or “evaporated cane sugar” is a moderately processed sweetener that comes from sugarcane juice that has been evaporated. This, in many people’s minds, is nutritionally superior to white sugar because white sugar goes through one additional processing step, stripping it of all traces of molasses and color. But when you really examine the facts, evaporated cane juice is not all that different than white sugar. The miniscule difference is that “evaporated cane juice” has a trace more vitamin A, C and calcium than white sugar, which is devoid of any nutrient. In its raw cane form, natural sugar cane is brimming with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fibers, and phytonutrients that help the body digest the naturally occurring sugars. The minerals required to digest sugar are calcium, phosphorous, chromium, magnesium, cobalt, copper, iron, zinc and manganese. It also contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, niacin, and pantothenic acid, which work synergistically with the minerals to nourish the body. But when you break it down, white sugar and “evaporated cane juice” are both 99 percent sucrose and, as sweet as they are, are also just empty calories.
So with all sugar being essentially the product of liquid extracted from the sugarcane plant, do you feel any better about eating one form of sugar over another? What are some of your preferred sugar alternatives and why?