Are All Sugars Created Equal? Part II

Non-centrifugal cane sugars are obtained without centrifugation. The below listed sugars are all similar in production processes, the names differ depending on region.

  • Muscovado from the Philippines is evaporated at a low temperature. It is not bleached or spun and the molasses is still intact.
  • Whole cane sugar (e.g. Rapunzel brand) or the American trade name Sucanat (Sugar Cane Natural) are unrefined and unbleached sugars with the molasses still intact. They are made by crushing freshly cut sugar cane, extracting the juice and heating it in a large vat. Once the juice is reduced to a rich, dark syrup, it is hand-paddled. Hand paddling cools and dries the syrup, creating the dry, porous granules known as Sucanat.
  • Rapadura (Panela) from Brazil, is evaporated cane juice heated at low temperatures and sieve ground. It is not spun to form sugar crystals and the molasses is not removed.
  • Jaggery from Asia is very similar to Panela, although some varieties contain date palm sap.

Turbinado sugar, also known as Demerara , is  produced when cane juice is heated until evaporated and then spun in a turbine to release excess moisture and molasses. This creates large, coarse golden crystals that contain traces of molasses. Turbinado and evaporated cane sugar are very similar to refined sugar. The difference is that table sugar undergoes additional washing, filtering, processing and drying to remove any remaining molasses color or taste. It is also bleached with agents such as lime and carbon dioxide.
Sugar alcohols include xylitol, erythritol and sorbitol which occur naturally in plants and are considered polyols, a type of carbohydrate with very low digestion. They are not completely absorbed by the body and therefore have a very low impact on blood glucose. For those with weak digestion, the unabsorbed sugar alcohols can become fermented and cause gas and bloating.

*A note on artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin): results are inconclusive in terms of disease risk, particularly with cancer. They are manmade vs. naturally-occurring sugars and have not been utilized in the human diet for very long.

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