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Sugars….Silent Poisons!



Are they all the same? Can we make wiser choices?


This article deserves a re-post!! Very current people, & we need to keep educating ourselves….

then we get to make our own choices!

Found this awesome article written by Jo Whitton from Quirky Cooking. Jo says it all…check her out!
Rapadura – my favourite natural sweetener
Rapadura? Panela? Sucanat? Muscavado? Turbinado? Organic Raw Sugar?     
Are these sugars the same? If not, which ones are the least refined?
 Which have the most vitamins and minerals? Are you confused?
A lot of people ask me, “What is Rapadura? Is it the same as Organic Raw Sugar? Why is it okay to eat Rapadura, but not okay to eat regular cane sugar, if they’re both made from sugar cane?” So here’s an overview of these different sugars…Rapadura is the pure juice extracted from the sugar cane (using a press), which is then evaporated over low heats, whilst being stirred with paddles, then seive ground to produce a grainy sugar. It has not been cooked at high heats, and spun to change it into crystals, and the molasses has not been separated from the sugar.  It is produced organically, and does not contain chemicals or anti-caking agents.

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.’

There are similar products to Rapadura, such as  Sucanat  (USA – a trade name), and Jaggery (India).  Sucanat is different to Rapadura in that the sugar stream and the molasses stream are separated from each other during processing, then reblended to create a consistent product, whereas Rapadura is a wholefood product which can vary according to sugar cane variety, soil type and weather. This is why one batch of Rapadura may be lighter or darker than the last batch.  (See this diagram)     Because Rapadura is not separated from the molasses, it has more nutrients, vitamins and minerals.   Jaggery can refer to either whole cane sugar or  palm sugar.  From what I can understand, it is also heated to higher temperatures, as much as 200 degrees C, which Rapadura is not.  Like many of these similar sugars, Jaggery is solidified and formed into cakes, which can then be grated for us.

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.

I always cut down on the amount of sugar when converting recipes, just adding some raw honey or some crushed dates, or sometimes a pinch of stevia powder if I think it needs more sweetening.

Thanks for the research Jo…answers questions for all who are trying to find the right alternative. Don’t forget to check out Jo & LIKE her facebook page xx

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