22 Benefits of Sugarcane

Abstract: This post contains a brief description of the Super-hero nature of sugarcane.This wonder drink is excellent for many ailments.
Very few people know that  freshly pressed sugarcane  juice is popularly known as  Super Hero among plant foods? Freshly extracted juices contain vital  enzymes and nutrients that can be  easily absorbed by the body. Science has proved that  we get instant  nourishment from such juices. Sugarcane is a tall grass with stout stem similar to bamboo in appearance.  The sugarcane  juice has a high potency equivalent to wheatgrass juice. It has lesser  chlorophyll and more sugar content as shown from the colors. But important thing about sugarcane is  that its  juice contains only about fifteen percent  total sugar content, which is  all in a raw unrefined form.  Thanks to scientific research The remaining 85% of the juice consists of water  loaded with vitamins and minerals. Sugarcane is rich in 10 minerals and other phytonutrients (chlorophyll) : calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc and iron.  It also contains vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, plus a high concentration of antioxidants, proteins, soluble fiber and numerous other health-friendly compounds.Benefits of   these nutrients provide a  health-promoting food which has been studied for its role in fighting the following health issues.
1.Fighting cancer.
2.Stabilizing blood sugar levels in diabetics.
3.Helping  in weight loss.
4. Reducing fevers.
5.Clearing the kidneys.
6.Preventing tooth decay and many  other health benefits.
Brazil and India are the top producers of sugarcane but it is liked and consumed world-wide due to its marvelous health benefits. Almost 100 countries grow sugarcane. The best way to enjoy the health benefits of sugarcane is by sucking or chewing the exposed end of the raw sugarcane. The juice can also be extracted in larger quantities for drinking, by feeding the large stalks through a slow moving roller pressing machine, similar to an old fashioned wringer washing machine. In India people drink it with a pinch of sea salt and lemon juice, for a natural high-energy drink whose value goes far beyond its sweet taste. The commonly used machine looks like the one shown here:

Machine

Sugarcane pressing machine


Several scientific studies have revealed that sugarcane is extremely high in a unique mix of compounds called polyphenols.Chemically polyphenols are a large class of  compounds containing many (poly means many ) phenolic groups. A representative  phenolic group looks like the one shown here:


Phenol group

These phenolic compounds are the phytonutrients (nutrients from plants, phyto means plants) with powerful antioxidant properties and numerous health benefits. Antioxidants are the compounds which prevent oxidation of chemicals in our body. When consumed as a “whole package,” the polyphenols in sugarcane juice work closely with the vitamins, minerals, and other cofactors to slow down the absorption of its sugars into the bloodstream, resulting in a very low glycemic index(GI). which keeps the body’s metabolism healthy and helps maintain a healthy body weight.  Glycemic index is a number which is very useful for diabetics. This number determines the effect a carbohydrate has on blood glucose levels The high-glycemic-index-foods are not good for diabetics. Just for comparison, the glycemic index of refined sugar is 64, compared to raw sugar cane which has a glycemic index of  30 to 40 (nearly half that of refined sugar) depending on the soil in which it is grown.

High concentration of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese makes the sugarcane  juice  an alkaline forming food.  Alkaline environment is not good for cancer growth, studies have shown that it has proven effective in helping the body fight against cancer, especially prostate and breast cancer.  Is it not surprising! Yes it is. The antioxidants in sugarcane juice also help to fight against viral and bacterial infections, boost the immune system, and protect against diseases of the liver.  It also improves kidney function by clearing the urinary flow and is believed to be a good treatment for fevers, as it boosts the body’s protein levels.  An Australian  scientific study also showed that it stabilizes blood sugar levels and promotes weight loss in obese rats. Studies of the last 8-9 decades have shown that sugarcane juice has a protective effect against tooth decay, owing to its high mineral content. Here are some more healing effects of sugarcane:
1.   It cures a sore throat, cold and flu.
2.   Unlike table sugar, it has no simple sugars. Simple sugars are monosaccharide e.g  glucose, fructose   different from polysaccharides like sucrose. Diabetics can therefore enjoy it without worrying about soaring blood sugar levels. Those with type 2 diabetes should still have limited sugarcane juice rather than loading with sugarcane.
3.   It provides glucose to the body, burned by the muscles to provide the body natural energy. It re-hydrates the human body fatigued from heat and physical activity. It’s known to boost performance in athletes and manual laborers.
4.   It’s recommended for fevers which cause great protein loss from the body. Liberal consumption of sugarcane juice provides the body with protein during febrile disorders. Febrile disorder is a sudden spike in body temperature.
5.   It’s an ideal thirst quencher and cooling drink during summers. It keeps the body hydrated.
6.   The easily digestible sugar in sugarcane juice helps in speedy recovery from jaundice. The steep fall in glucose levels during jaundice; may be replenished by having 3 to 4 glasses of sugarcane juice daily.
7.   It’s good for the digestive system and also helps with constipation because of its high potassium content.
8.   It has a wide range of compounds in addition to sucrose which bestows it with wound healing properties and strengthens the immune system.
9.   Regular intake of sugarcane juice strengthens the stomach, kidneys, heart, eyes, brain and sex organs.
10.It lowers body cholesterol both LDL(low density lipoproteins) and triglycerides.
This YouTube video(http://www.youtube.com/watchfeature=player_detailpage&v=Y62SHF1_ZeM )gives a true appreciation for this wonder food.  Like all freshly extracted juices, sugarcane juice loses its nutritional value very quickly after being extracted, so it can’t be bottled and shipped hence it should always be taken fresh.
The reason raw sugarcane juice is so healthy is because of all of the life-giving nutrients contained in it. In the processing of raw sugarcane juice to create refined white sugar, the juice is boiled to evaporate off the water, leaving a dark thick viscous liquid, which is then separated from the sugar crystals.  Most of the nutrients, including the polyphenols, end up in the thick dark liquid, called molasses. Blackstrap molasses, made from the third boiling of sugarcane juice, is the most concentrated form of molasses, and is therefore the most nutritious. It is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that promote your health, including iron, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium and manganese.
There is a lot of controversy over the term ” evaporated cane juice”. So lets see what is this. Sucanat  is a trade name for the raw unrefined whole cane sugar. Sucanat derives its name from three words-sugar,cane and natural. This product does not separate molasses from sugar crystals and therefore contains most of the nutrients including the polyphenols which are present in raw sugarcane juice. Truly this product is the evaporated form of sugarcane juice and  is very dark in color with sugar crystals in it. But the term “evaporated cane juice” to be used for this product is misleading. This is due to the marketing tactics to use the catchy words. Evaporated cane juice is very processed form of sugar almost the same as refined sugar. The only difference is that this undergoes only one step less than the cane sugar and does not contain any molasses hence lacks nutrients. This has been stated by CEO of ASSURKKAR, a sugar company in Costa Rica which provides raw sugar to US companies. 

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