Sugar, Sugar, which sugar do I choose?

by Shweta Thakur on Nov 15, 2022

Sugar, Sugar, which sugar do I choose?

This World Diabetes Day, we thought we will dig deeper and understand more about the sugars we sell. There is so much info out there that it can get super confusing. So let's sort them out one by one.

1. White Sugar

White Sugar is usually made from sugarcane or sugar beets. Sugar Beet is a beetroot like root vegetables with high density of sucrose. This is the most processed & refined sugar. Sugar is usually put in a centrifuge that separates the crystals from molasses. Earlier, crystals were further bleached and usually refined through a process of passing it through bone char. Which - believe it or not - makes it unvegan. Say whaaaa!!!! That's the biggest discovery we made this month. Sugar was earlier un-vegan. But it's all good now coz this bone char bit has been removed from the process.

2. Brown Sugar

We all think that brown sugar is less refined sugar than white sugar. But the actual truth is quite the opposite. Most brown sugar is taking refined white sugar and coloring it with molasses. Molasses is nothing but sugarcane juice boiled & reduced (a by-product of the sugar making process). Brown sugar is not very different from white sugar nutritionally. It has only marginally less sugar and marginally higher micro-nutrients from molasses.

3. Raw & Cane Sugar

Raw sugar is a product in the middle of sugar processing. It is a first crystallisation sugar where sugar crystals have been formed but they retain some of the molasses. Cane sugar is technically the same as this less refined sugar - considering that most sugars in India are made of sugarcane. Different stages of unrefinement yield different types of raw sugars - demerara, turbinado, etc. And don't get us wrong, some of the brown sugar could also be this sugar - but mostly, it is not.

4. Jaggery

Regular jaggery is made by boiling clean sugarcane juice over time and then literally churning that liquid to improve the consistency. Then the hot liquid jaggery is cooled to solidify. Ofcourse, you also get jaggery in liquid form as well. Jaggery is definitely less processed than sugar. However, the sugar levels remain the same. But jaggery has a lot more potassium, magnesium, calcium & iron in it. It has a largely non-chemical based extraction process.

5. Coconut Sugar

This is made by extracting sap from coconut tree and then reducing it using heat to make un-refined sugar. It is usually higher in minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. It has a compound called inulin which may slow glucose absorption and hence this one seems to have a lower GI than sugar. But calorie wise, it's the same!

6. Palm Sugar

It's pretty much similar to coconut sugar, except that it's made from the sap of date palm tree.

7. Coconut & Palm Jaggery

When the saps of both these trees are not fully crystallised and separated, we get the jaggery versions! However, palm jaggery is a great source of vegetarian B12. And both of them have low GI - coconut jaggery being lower.

8. Stevia

Stevia is a plant native to Paraguay where the leaves have natural sweeteners. Infact, stevia is actually 300 times sweeter than regular sugar. But they are called non-calorie sweeteners.

9. Sugar Alcohols

A lot of food brands sell 'sugar-free' products wherein they substitute artificial sugar with sugar alcohol. Xylitol, Sorbitol & more - they go by many names. They contain less calories than artificial sugar and are not easily absorbed by the instestine - thereby reducing the calorie count. And they don't cause cavities. Now that's a good news!

10. Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is also a naturally occuring plant with 200X the sweetness of sugar and 0 calories. It is native to China and is fast becoming popular.

So basically, we live in a rather sweet world. And different physical conditions may find different kind of sweeteners more favourable to the body. But one thing is for certain - eat less processed food. The more whole it is, the better fit it is for your body. Infact, consider including date and date syrup in your list of sweeteners and see how your body responds to these natural sugars.

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