Are they all the same? Can we make wiser choices?
RAPADURA? PANELA? SUCANAT? MUSCAVADO? TURBINADO? ORGANIC RAW SUGAR?
This article deserves a re-post!! Very current people, & we need to keep educating ourselves….
then we get to make our own choices!
In Brazil, where it is produced, ‘Rapadura’ is the traditional name for this kind of sugar – it is also known as Panela, Raspadura, Chancaca, Piloncillo… depending on where it’s made. There may be some small differences in the process used to make these, but generally it is as outlined here . Daabon, who import this sugar from Columbia to Australia and the United States, state that Panela and Rapaduraare two names for the same product, Panela being the Colombian name.
The German company Rapunzel registered the name ‘Rapadura’ for the organic sugar they sold, but because of the diplomatic problems it caused, the labelling was recently changed to ‘Organic Whole Cane Sugar.’
Because Rapadura is dehydrated at a low heat, the vitamins and minerals have been retained. (See this specs sheet for details of what Rapadura has in it, compared to other sugars!) It still has the natural balance of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, and contains components essential for its’ digestion. It is metabolized more slowly than white sugar, and therefore will not affect your blood sugar levels as much as refined sugars. The more refined the sugar, the more it raises your blood sugar.
Muscavado, Turbinado, Demarara and ‘Organic Raw Sugar’ are all refined, though not as much as white sugar. They are the product of heating, clarifying, then dehydrating the cane juice until crystals form, then spinning it in a centrifuge so the crystals are separated from the syrupy juice (producing molasses). The clarifying process is usually done with chemicals, although sometimes through pressure filtration. The crystals are then reunited with some of the molasses in artificial proportions. The molasses contains vitamins and minerals, and is recommended for a healthy diet, but the crystals themselves are pretty much ‘empty carbs.’
‘Raw’ sugar is not really raw – it has been cooked, and a lot of the minerals and vitamins are gone. Still, it’s better than refined sugar because it has a little of the molasses still clinging to it. Some sugar is sold as ‘organic’ raw sugar, and people think this means it’s unrefined – all it really means is that it’s grown with organic agricultural methods, then refined as usual… the juice (molasses) has been mostly removed, and there’s not really much goodness in it.
White sugar is refined much further… see this flow chart for details. The raw sugar is washed with a syrup solution, then with hot water, clarified (usually chemically) to remove impurities, decolourized (in some countries they use bone char made from cattle bones), concentrated, evaporated, reboiled until crystals form, centrifuged again to separate, then dried, and by then any lingering goodness has completely dissapeared! All other sugars are refined sugars of different sizes, and various stages of processing.
Crystallised refined sugars are pure sucrose and contain no nutrients beyond calories. They are a “pure” industrial product, and can hardly be considered a food. Some would say they are closer to a drug, which affects our bodies adversely and is very addictive. Not only do they not give anything beneficial to our bodies, they actually take away from the vitamins and minerals in what we are eating. People who get headaches from eating refined sugars usually find they have no problem with Rapadura.
Brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses.
Thanks for the research Jo…answers questions for all who are trying to find the right alternative. Don’t forget to check out Johttp://quirkycooking.blogspot.com.au & LIKE her facebook page xx