Recipes and Tips for Healthier Living and Smarter Budgeting

Monday, December 2, 2013


For a few years now, I have used raw sugar as a substitute for refined white and brown sugars. I still prefer to use honey, when possible, since honey is completely non-processed and in its natural state--with lots of vitamins, enzymes, and minerals (link). But there are times when a non-liquid sugar is needed for a particular recipe. For this, raw sugar seemed like my best option because it's not as highly processed as regular sugar and therefore retains a small amount of trace nutrients. Not perfect, but a step up. I also noticed that eating it didn't make me feel as cruddy as eating refined sugar.

But now I've found something a few steps above raw sugar.

It's called Sucanat--which stands for Sugar Cane Natural. It's not a new product, just new to me. So I've been learning about it and how it differs from refined sugar. This website explains that it "...Is made by first extracting the juice from the sugar cane (using a press), and then stirring the juice with paddles while the water is evaporated out of the juice using very low heats. It has not been boiled at high heats (like all other sugars), nor spun to change it into crystals, and the molasses has not been separated from the sugar. Traditionally, the dried juice is formed into a brick for transport. Modern methods now grind the sugar in a sieve, leaving a very dark brown colored grainy sugar. [Sucanat] is produced organically, and does not contain chemicals or anti-caking agents."

I was interested to note that even just looking at them, you can tell a difference between raw sugar and Sucanat. While both have large, brown granules, raw sugar looks much more uniform (which means it even looks more processed). As for its taste, the first time I tried Sucanat I preferred it over raw sugar.

So we've made the transition! There are so many of those in the journey to more healthful eating...

Why the big deal over refined sugar? Here's why our family limits it. And here's another reason to avoid it (from this site): "When you eat any type of sugar that has been refined, your body has to pull stored nutrients from itself to be able to properly digest the sugar. This is called leaching refined sugar (including this wrongly called "evaporated cane juice") robs calcium and other minerals from your bones, tissues, and teeth in order to be digested. Since calcium is one of the most abundant mineral in natural sugar cane and needed the most for proper digestion of sugar, it is the most important to retain."

If you're interested in learning more about the process of refining sugar, check out these websites:

Of course, no sugar at all (whether highly processed or not) would be the healthiest option. If you need tips on how to quit, visit this site, or start by checking out my post on figuring out your sugar intake.

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