Beneath the Sugar Coating

In the Fire

The Great Sugar Rush

If you've been paying attention at the grocery store lately, you've certainly noticed that the shelves in the sugar section have been inundated with new products. The recent barrage of granules, crystals, flakes, and powders has made it challenging to distinguish one sugar from another. Granulated white sugar was once the only option available. Today, however, there is fierce competition from a throng of new products--evaporated cane juice, organic cane sugar, cane juice crystals, and a number of others with similar names. For the sake of simplicity, I'll refer to these new sugars as cane sugars.

Culinary Arts

Glazing Over The Truth

At the moment, a great deal of information is not available regarding cane sugars. There does seem to be a misconception that they are wholly better for you than white sugar, which is simply not true. Some manufacturers mislead consumers into believing that cane sugars are not processed when, in fact, all sugars derived from sugar cane go through some processing, the distinction being how much.

How Sugar is Processed

In the most simple terms, processing extracts the juice from the cane and evaporates the liquid so that just the dry, beige crystals remain. These crystals can be packaged as they are, as cane sugars, or they can be processed further to remove their color to become white sugar.

The whitening process, which is where much of the controversy surrounding sugar refining comes in, is typically achieved in one of two ways--chemical bleaching or carbon filtration. While the reasoning behind the objections to chemicals is fairly clear, there are also concerns about carbon filters because they are often made from charred cattle bones. Even though the bones are not incorporated into the sugar, the practice is somewhat disturbing, particularly to anyone who rejects using animals for food or clothing.

Special Effects of Cane Sugars

False assertions have been made claiming that cane sugars affect the body differently than white sugar. The truth is, both types of sugar have the same chemical composition and, therefore, the same effect on the body. This is especially important information for anyone with blood sugar issues who may be misled to believe that they can freely eat cane sugars without negative results.

The Sweet & Safer Side of Sugar

Despite the similarities, there are some significant differences between white and cane sugars. Traditional sugar cane plantations have been known for imprudent use of pesticides, chemicals, and fertilizers. Because sugar is a highly concentrated substance, any chemicals used in sugar production are going to be concentrated in the sugar itself. In addition, pesticides and fertilizers have a negative environmental impact and can affect soil viability and neighboring plants and water sources. Most brands of cane sugar are made from organically grown sugar cane and, therefore, are much safer for human consumption and the environment.

Sugar Solution

While there are still many unanswered questions regarding the differences between white and cane sugars, reducing the amount of chemicals in your body and the environment, is always a good thing. That is justification enough for giving these new sugars a try.

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