Baffled by Sugar

Healthy Home

Welcome to Healthy Home, an enlightening weekly series on Mom Going Green.  Healthy Home focuses on natural health topics for the whole family.  The goal of this series is to provide moms (and dads too), with information on how to achieve optimal health for the entire household naturally.   The series will include the latest in natural health news, wholesome health tips, yummy recipes, and natural health remedies that have worked for healthy homes in years past.

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Options for Sugar

The sugar aisle in the grocery store is the most confusing and frustrating for me.  So many choices, UGH!!  I don’t like so many choices, it brings out my indecisive side.  Do I go with regular white, brown, Raw, Demerara,

Turbinado, Rapadura, Sucanat, Stevia???  Where do I start?  What’s the difference?  Is one cup of white sugar the same as 1 cup of Rapadura or Turbinado, or Raw?  I’m getting a headache!

After putting in several hours of research here is a synopsis of what I found and a handy chart to tuck in your re-usable shopping bag when at the store.

 “White” & “Brown” Sugar

Let’s start with the traditional refined white sugar.  If you guessed this is the worst and most unhealthy, you are correct!  White sugar has been heated and filtered to the max, not to mention, bleached, so that all nutrients and molasses is filtered and heated out and what is left is fine white crystals with no nutritional value.  Brown sugar goes through the same process but with some of the molasses or caramel coloringbeing added back in (at different ratios for light/dark).

 Turbinado Sugar

This sugar is produced when the juice from crushed sugar cane is extracted and evaporated with heat.  The sugar crystallizes and is spun in a centrifuge.  This removes additional moisture and molasses (the nutrient dense portion of sugar).  A small amount of molasses remains.  Turbinado often comes from Hawaii, one company that produces a form of turbinado is Sugar In The Raw, out of Maui, Hawaii.

 Demerara Sugar

(Washed Raw Sugar) is processed similar to Turbinado.  The name Demerara is from the Demerara River in the Guyana region where this sugar was grown.  It has similar nutritional value to Turbinado.  They are both a light brown, large crystal sugar.  An example of Demerara is here.

 Muscovado Sugar

A dark brown sugar from sugar cane after evaporated, heated, pan-evaporated in the sun, and finally pounded.  It retains a lot of nutrients and is tends to be hold extra moisture, therefore it may take some experimenting before using in baked goods.  Muscovado comes from Mauritius, an island of the coast of Africa.

 Organic Whole Cane Sugar

(formerly Rapadura)

This is an unrefined and unbleached sugar by Rapunzel, harvested in Brazil.  Organic Whole Cane Sugar is not separated from the molasses during the squeeze-dried process.  It is known for a unique caramel flavor.  It can be substituted for white sugar in a 1:1 ratio.  The Rapunzel is very eco-conscious and has been since 1974.  They grow and purchase through the Hand in HandTM Fair Trade program.   Rapunzel works with local small farms in South America and contributes to educational, health and environmental programs in the local community.

 Sucanat

Sucanat stand for SUgar CAne NATural which is a brand name of this first whole, unseperated, unrefined sugar sold in the US. Sucanat comes from whole sugar cane from Costa Rica.  The sugar cane is crushed, the juice extracted and heated then hand-padded dry.  They are certified Fair Trade and Organic.  I have read several sources that state that for a period of time Sucanat  removed the molasses and then added it back in, therefore no longer “whole”, but have since reverted to their original practices.    I have not confirmed this information with the company but have read it on several sites.

All of the above sugars can be subsituted in a 1:1 ratio for white or brown sugar or used in coffee and other beverages.  I have tried Demerara and now moved onto Rapadura.  I like their green practices and consistant product.    I feel liberated to know that I know have more nutritions and healthy staples in my cubbards.  I only wish I would have found these jewels years ago.   Most of these sugars can be purchsed in bulk online at Azure.

Below is a handy chart I found at The Center for Process-Free Living.

Amounts based on 100 grams White Sugar Raw Brown Sugar (Sugar in the Raw) Sucanat Rapadura
Minerals
Potassium (mg) 3-5 15-150 570 600-1,000
Magnesium (mg) 0 13-23 8.7 40-100
Calcium (mg) 10-15 75-95 110  80-110
Phosphorous (mg) 0.3 3-4 37 50-100
Vitamins
A (IU) 0 0 <20 120-1,200
B1 (mg) 0 0.01 0.007 0.023-0.1
B2 (mg) 0 0.006 0.55 0.06-0.15
B6 (mg) 0 0.01 0.27 0.02-0.05
Niacin (mg) 0 0.03 0.7 0.03-0.19
Pantothenic Acid (mg) 0 0.02 0.33 0.34-1.18

Have you tried any of these sugar alternatives?  What has been your experience?

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5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Liesel said,

    Awesome! Thanks for doing all the work and writing up a short synopsis. I will definitely be trying some new ones as my experience has only been limited to white, brown, and Turbinado sugars.

  2. 3

    thesimplewife said,

    We use a variety of these things baking, along with blue agave nectar. Where does it fall in? When we lived in England, Demerara was the norm. I think I will have to try sucanat or rapadura now. Thanks for sharing the info, Dr. Heather!

  3. 5

    I go green said,

    great i always thought the brown sugar was worst


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