Friday, June 5, 2015

Difference between Golden, Brown and White sugars

Sugar Cane

While modern life spans have increased due to modern medicines such as antibiotics and other medical interventions, the quality of life for many is not necessarily better. Many live compromised lives functioning at less than desirable abilities and/or dependent permanently on a drug that further complicates matters through undesirable side effects. Some difficulties of modern living are due to polluted air and water. Some more have something to do with a modern life styles and living conditions that deprive many of adequate sunshine and green spaces. While a modern human may have to make major efforts to overcome these shortcomings, there is one that may be more easily overcome with just a bit of right knowledge - food and medicines.

There is an older detailed post in this blog describing how much better off a human would be if his or her food and medicine were natural. Some of the unnatural foods and medicines are synthetic things that do not exist in nature at all. If the use of such a medicine is for an emergency or critical condition then its use is justified but if it is in the hope of a better life and for regular consumption then the results shall not be good.

Many processed food have some synthetic things added to them if you look through the ingredients. Although such synthetic additives are cleared by the controlling food and drug authorities of various countries, human bodies are so complex that it can never be said with certainty if a synthetic substance is producing an unknown harm when used over the long term. Even a natural substance can be harmful; indeed many are, but the chances of a synthetic one being harmful as compared to a natural one that has been in human use for a very long period of time simply appears to be much greater, just based on common sense. Some foods and medicines exist in nature but have been so extracted and isolated from their original plant source so as to become unnatural and near synthetic, some so common that we may not even realize that they are so. The most common of these is sugar. Its regular consumption is a contributing factor for the development of diabetes type II and other ailments.

Sugar comes from the juice of the sugar cane that is one of the several species of grasses. It is grasses that provide most food for humans and animals on the planet such as wheat and rice and the grass that sugar comes from is from the genus called Saccharum, They have stout jointed fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six meters tall. Sugarcane is the world's largest crop by production quantity, so widespread is its use.

Sugar is produced from the juice of sugar cane. Although sugar cane juice and refined sugar are made from the same plant, their sugar contents differ. Sugar cane juice is a healthy alternative to table sugar when used in moderation. It contains fructose and glucose. The fructose and glucose from sugar cane juice are absorbed more slowly than sucrose and do not cause wild fluctuations in blood sugar level just as the alcohol in a well aged wine does not compared to a crude one. It is such fluctuations that may stress a system to a point of diabetes type II especially as one ages and vitality of the body begins to decrease. 

Sugar cane juice is a health drink that can cure several chronic ailments afflicting modern humans. Sugar cane juice as opposed to refined sugar also contains trace amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, thiamine and riboflavin. Sugar cane juice may offer antioxidant benefits because it contains flavonoid and phenolic compounds. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, flavonoids may provide antiviral, anti-allergic, anti-platelet, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant benefits to the human body. The Brazilian National Institute of Medicine concluded that crushed sugar cane leaves are comparable in flavonoid content to other foods that are considered high in that nutrient, making sugar cane juice a good source of antioxidants, especially when the crushing is done along with the leaves. Most important is that when the body is exposed to sugar along with its companion food elements in sugar cane the body is exposed to a more natural food rather than something unnatural and thus can cope with it more easily. However once a person develops diabetes type II then even golden sugar or honey may become poison for the body, but the hope is that by avoiding white sugar and maintaining a reasonably healthy life style one may never encounter it.

Do note that if one is unable to consume any sugar due to diabetes, please do not resort to a chemical sweetener even if the controlling food and drug administrations has cleared it as safe. To assess the state of such drug administration note this fact. The FDA has declared cannabis, an essential natural medicine for some, as schedule I when it has cleared alcohol that kills far more and made opium schedule II that kills at the first chance of an overdose. Government organisations often end up serving the need of corporations with those of the nation. Corporations may sponsor researchers to produce results that favor them and in turn influence the FDA of various countries while the FDA can also be directly influenced by governments that have been lobbied by corporations.  It seems cannabis was first made illegal in the 1930s to ensure profits for nylon to which hemp was a threatening competitor. In this murky world driven by greed for profits, the best bet for an average citizen is to stick to natural. If you are not allowed even natural sugar, go for the natural healthy sweetener stevia instead, described here older detailed post.

The difficulty with sugar cane juice is that it does not store as well as sugar. However its shelf life increases when it is dehydrated to solid form as Jaggery. Jaggery can be crushed and the resulting sugar called Shakker in South Asia may be called Golden Sugar. This new terminology is introduced to differentiate from brown sugar available widely in the western markets. Some people think that it is healthier and use that but brown sugar is not much different from white sugar in composition; it only has a slight amount of other additives to change its color and texture. Therefore, it is not a healthy alternative. Golden sugar is the real natural alternative. It has a somewhat different but more natural taste that one begins to like after use. If its use becomes more widespread, one may expect better quality control in its production and sale.

A problem with jaggery is that standards of hygiene and quality control in its production are not as rigorous as with the more developed modern sugar industry. However if one can locate good quality jaggery, it would seem to be a far better alternative than refined sugar. There are other sugar containing natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup but these are expensive and not widely available. If one consumed table sugar on rare occasion such as in deserts but a natural sweetener for daily consumption such as in the daily cup of tea or coffee one is likely to be better off and safer on this score. Do not purchase the golden sugar from the market; it may be adulterated with waste of the sugar industry. Instead break up Jaggery to make your own. That is easy to do.

However, although Jaggery has a much longer shelf life than sugar cane juice its shelf life is not as long as that of white sugar. If it begins to change color to white or dark, start becoming much too hard or smelling different, it has begun to spoil and should be discarded. Recently there has been new research in producing spray dried sugar cane juice powder without the use of any chemical additives. The product has yet to come to the market but offers promise of becoming the very best and convenient way to consume sugar cane as food.

The message in all this is that even though modern science and industry are impressive, nature is far more so. Moreover when greed of a manufacturer comes in. we may have false claims from them or silence on possible harm. Whenever a human has a safe natural alternative compared to a modern synthetic or unnatural one, it is wise to prefer that in the opinion of this blogger.

Enjoy this drink

In the meantime to enjoy sugar in one of the healthiest drinks on the planet, whenever you can find fresh cane juice filter it through cloth right away and mix with cold milk, add ice cubes for an extremely satisfying and healthy drink. One may also freeze it as ice cubes. Later add lots of these sugar cane ice cubes to a glass of cold milk or cold freshly churned yoghurt  for a real healthy drink. if you are unsure of the purity of the juice, if it is from the street, heat it to near boiling, cool by placing pot in cold water before straining through cloth.

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