Food For Thought
The deal with evaporated cane juice
By: Leanne Ely
If you spend time reading labels in health food stores, you may have noticed evaporated cane juice listed on the label of most of the packaged food items you find there. But that doesn’t mean those products are healthy.
I was recently asked how I feel about evaporated cane juice. In case you were wondering the same thing, I’ll tell you right now that I don’t like it. Evaporated cane juice is just another way of saying sugar.
It sounds healthy enough, though, doesn’t it? Evaporated cane juice sounds like it should just be the evaporated juice of sugar cane. And if that were the case, it wouldn’t really be so bad because sugar cane in its raw, natural state is actually chock full of minerals, fibers, enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients, which are all required to help the body digest the sugars in the cane. But the processing required to make evaporated cane juice strips away those nutrients until there’s nothing left but the sweet!
After the sugarcane juice is boiled and the nutrition is essentially destroyed, the juice is separated into a molasses stream and a sugar stream. The minerals go to the molasses and the sugar stream really has no nutrition to speak of. Then, to take it a step further, the sugar stream is evaporated in order for crystallization to occur. For common white granulated sugar, one further process is taken where bleaching agents, preservatives and a bunch of other nasties are added.
So that evaporated cane juice doesn’t look so innocent all of a sudden, does it?
Do we need a little reminder about why sugar is evil?
• Sugar creates oxidative stress within the body.
• Sugar may stop your white blood cells from functioning properly, opening you up to sickness.
• Cancer cells are fueled by sugar.
• When you eat sugar, your body has trouble producing leptin which is the hormone responsible for appetite regulation.
• Sugar can cause you to store and gain fat.
• Sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which leads to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and nerve damage.
• Sugar is addictive.
As if it couldn’t be any worse, all that sugar is stripping your body of nutrients. When you eat any kind of refined sugar, your body has to borrow from its own nutrient reserves in order to digest it. The body actually has to leach minerals and calcium from your teeth, bones and body tissues so that the sugar can be digested.
So, in case you were still on the fence up until now about whether evaporated cane juice is a healthy thing to put in your body, hopefully you’ve now made a firm decision.
If you need to sweeten up your food, go with maple syrup or honey. And even then, use sparingly!
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