A stroll down the sugar and sugar alternative aisle in the health food store will….confuse you. What are all these products and how are they different from sugar? We’ve looked at some — honey, stevia, agave Nectar, and xylitol. Today we’ll look at another twist to the sugar story, sucanat.
Sucanat stands for SUgar CAne NATural. Yes, it’s sugar, but delivered by a different processing method. Usually sugar cane is cooked and processed with chemicals in many stages. For Sucanat, the producers use a centrifuge to whirl the juice out of the sugar cane. It is then dried and milled into a powder. And it’s done!
The result is a sugar that is marginally healthier than the white crystals you can pick up cheaply in the baking aisle. It is said to have a lower GI rating — which I was unable to find in spite of a morning spent in research. However, it does have a smaller proportion of sucrose than white sugar, so maybe this is so.
I found that 1 tsp. of sucanat sugar contains 15 calories, just the same as regular white sugar. So why bother? Well, sucanat fans point out that white sugar calories are empty calories. They give no nutritional benefit at all. Sucanat, however, because it contains the original molasses, contains antioxidants and minerals. Significant enough to warrant the calories? Probably easier to get them from other healthier food and/or good natural supplements.
Sucanat is brown in color and can be substituted for brown sugar in most recipes and many sources say that it can also be substituted 1:1 for white sugar. Yet another source recommended grinding it in a blender or food processor to make a healthier confectioners sugar.
What about taste? Because it retains its molasses content, you can taste that flavor. It seems to work best in baked goods with strong or complimentary flavors, like pumpkin bread or banana muffins.
However, will this product help you in your quest for a healthier you? Well, probably not. It may be a bit better, but not enough to warrant the expense. It is about 5 to 10 times more expensive than table sugar, depending on the brand and where you buy it.
Unless I uncover evidence that it has a significantly lower Glycemic Index rating, I’m afraid this alternative moves toward the bottom of the list.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown