Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

To sweet or not to sweet……..

"Just eat fruit." When people want dessert or a sweet snack, not all people are satisfied - truly satisfied - with a piece of fruit, at least not all the time. It certainly is a healthy goal but sometimes only a piece of chocolate or a slice of pie will satisfy that sweet tooth.

But we all know that avoiding white sugar is a good idea. So, what then? Fortunately, there are sweeteners that are more natural and less refined and the use of them has not been associated with any negative side effects and dangerous medical conditions like white sugar or other artificial sweeteners have been known to cause. Keep in mind, this doesn't mean load up on the stuff! Moderation, of course.

Evaporated cane juice is a healthier alternative to refined sugar. While both sweeteners are made from sugar cane, evaporated cane juice does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does. Therefore, unlike refined sugar, it retains more of the nutrients found in sugar cane and is much kinder to our blood sugar levels and our body's ability to keep fat storing at bay.

There are differing opinions on whether evaporated cane juice is indeed healthier, and this is a great summary in the words of Melina Jampolis, M.D. : "Evaporated cane juice is pretty much just sugar," she says. "It is less processed so it retains trace vitamins and minerals but has the same amount of calories as sugar. It is a little sweeter so you might get away with using less sugar which is always good."

The Story Behind Sugar

Just a little on the history of how we came to consume white, refined sugar instead of the healthier, less processed sugars, such as evaporated cane juice. For much of history, what we call evaporated cane juice was the sweetener of choice by all of the different cultures that used sugarcanes. Sugarcane was widely grown in India, and when the Moors learned from the Indians the secrets of how to process sugarcane into sugar, thus began the expansion of sugar into Europe. In the last few centuries, sugar refineries were built and there was a move towards the creation of refined sugar, often referred to as "white gold". Fortunately, there is now a renewed interest in the more natural and unrefined forms of sugarcane, owing to an increased focus on whole foods and nutrition.

Evaporated cane juice can be used just like sugar for sweetening foods and beverages as well as in cooking and baking. Look for it at your local grocery store or health food store. And keep in mind, this sugar is not a juice! It is a granulated sugar with slightly larger crystals than its finer white sugar counterpart.

Some healthier sweet ideas:

A refreshing summer beverage: Combine fresh mint leaves, limes and cane juice with sparkling water to make a non-alcoholic version of a mojito, a popular Cuban drink.

Sprinkle cane juice on top of a sliced grapefruit and broil.

Cinnamon toast with a healthy twist: drizzle flaxseed oil onto whole wheat toast and then sprinkle with cinnamon and cane juice.

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  1. Hi, Randa! Where do you get your sugarcane juice?

  2. Hi Taz, You can find it many mainstream places these days – regular grocery stores often have it, Trader Joes and Lassens, and I have heard Walmart and Smart and Final has carried it, too.

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