We’re all pretty familiar with that sugary sweet food that’s enjoyed in homes across the country, known as candy cane. Sugar cane is a tall perennial herb native to warm temperate and tropical regions of India, Southeast Asia and New Guinea. Sugar cane is used for the production of sugar, and it is common knowledge that sugar is absolutely not good for people with diabetes. But is this also the case for sugar cane? Diabetics are often advised to eat fruit, so being a natural product, can sugarcane also be consumed by diabetics? In this article, we will discuss whether sugar cane for diabetes is good or bad.
Common uses of sugarcane
Sugar cane (Saccharum) the plants are two to six meters tall and have sturdy, jointed, fibrous stems. These stems are rich in sucrose which accumulates in the internodes of the stems. Sugar cane represents 79% of the sugar produced in the world. About 70% of the sugar produced comes from Saccharum officinarum and its hybrids. All species of sugar cane can be interbred and the main commercial cultivars are complex hybrids.
- Sucrose, commonly known as table sugar, is extracted from sugar cane in specialized mills.
- It is also processed to make cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses and jaggery.
- It is also fermented to produce ethanol.
- It is used to make rum. In Brazil, it is fermented and used to make a liquor called cachaça.
- In some areas, people use sugarcane reeds to make enclosures, mats, screens and thatch.
- In parts of Southeast Asia, the young, undeveloped flower head of Saccharum edule (Duruka) is eaten raw, steamed, or grilled and prepared in a variety of ways.
- The plant is also cultivated for the production of biofuel
- It is used to produce a juice that is considered very good for fighting dehydration.
Sugar Cane Nutrition Facts
Principles of proximity and dietary fibre:
- Humidity (water) – 85.54 ± 0.99g
- Protein (PROTCNT) – 0.16 ± 0.03g
- Ash – 0.23 ± 0.02 g
- Total Fat (FATCE) – 0.40 ± 0.05g
- Dietary fiber – Total – 0.56 ± 0.09 g
- Insoluble fiber – 0.40 ± 0.05g
- Soluble fiber – 0.16 ± 0.05g
- Carbs – 13.11 ± 0.93g
- Energy – 242 ± 18 KJ
Starch and individual sugars:
- Total CHO available – 12.85 ± 0.80g
- Fructose – 0.55 ± 0.22g
- Glucose – 2.27 ± 0.49g
- Sucrose – 10.03 ± 0.33g
- Total free sugars – 12.85 ± 0.80 g
- Citric Acid – 3.55 ± 1.01mg
- Malic Acid – 2.04 ± 0.49mg
- Quinic Acid – 132 ± 6.2mg
- Succinic Acid – 459 ± 5.4mg
Is sugar cane good for diabetes?
A 1 cup (240 ml) serving provides:
- calories: 183
- Protein: 0 grams
- Big: 0 grams
- Sugar: 50 grams
- Fiber: 0–13 grams
Only 1 cup (240 ml) contains 50 grams of sugar. This equals almost 12 teaspoons. According to Harvard studies, most adult women should consume no more than 100 calories a day, or about six teaspoons or 24 grams, from added sugar. At the same time, most men should consume no more than 150 calories per day from added sugar. That’s about nine teaspoons or 36 grams. This is also the amount recommended by the American Heart Association.
Sugarcane juice contains up to 13 grams of fiber per cup (240 ml).
Sugar is a carbohydrate that the body breaks down into glucose. Some carbohydrate-rich foods and drinks can raise blood sugar excessively, which is obviously not ideal for people with diabetes. Thus, people with diabetes should carefully monitor their sugar intake.
Although sugarcane juice has a low glycemic index (GI), it still has a high glycemic load (GL). This means that it would have an outsized impact on blood sugar levels. The GI measures how quickly a food or drink raises blood sugar. However, GL measures the total amount of blood sugar increase. Thus, GL gives a more accurate picture of the effects of sugarcane juice on blood sugar.
So, are diabetics advised to consume sugar cane?
Like most other foods high in sugar, it is not advisable to eat sugar cane or drink juice if someone has diabetes. The massive amount of sugar it contains could dramatically raise blood sugar levels.
Some test-tube studies on sugarcane extract suggest that it contains antioxidant polyphenols that may help the pancreas produce more insulin, which is the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. However, this research is preliminary. It cannot be assumed that it is acceptable for diabetics to consume sugar cane based on this research.
Sugarcane juice is nutritious and provides instant energy and iron. That doesn’t really make it a diabetic-friendly drink. However, it is an excellent substitute for packaged juices. This could be especially beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes if they feel hypoglycemic.
People with diabetes can benefit greatly from consuming sugarcane or sugarcane juice if their blood sugar suddenly drops, i.e. they feel hypoglycemic. People with type 2 diabetes are prone to hypoglycemia, especially if they don’t eat enough calories after taking insulin. Sugarcane juice can be very beneficial in these cases.
It is crucial to keep in mind that while not as bad as manufactured or artificial sugar, moderation is key when it comes to consuming cane sugar or its juice.
Depending on the severity of diabetes, diabetic patients are advised to consume pieces of sugar cane rather than juice. Maximum benefits and fiber can be extracted in chunks without even having to consume large amounts.
Risks of excessive consumption of sugarcane
It is well known that excess of anything is bad. Likewise, overconsumption of sugarcane can also have adverse health effects.
- Sugarcane contains policosanol which causes insomnia, indigestion, dizziness and headaches, as well as weight loss.
- Sugarcane oxidizes very quickly. Consuming oxidized sugarcane can lead to food poisoning.
- Sugar cane causes blood thinning. If someone is taking blood thinners, consuming candy cane can lead to complications.
Other Health Benefits of Sugarcane
- Due to the high sugar content, sugarcane juice is excellent for hydrating the body and being an energy booster for non-diabetic patients.
- Calcium and phosphorus found in sugar cane help overcome deficiencies and tooth decay.
- It can reduce fatigue and prevent illnesses such as urinary tract infections, constipation or stomach infections.
- According to Ayurveda, the antioxidants in sugarcane juice treat jaundice and boost the immune system.
- Mixing it with aloe vera gel to make a face mask can reduce acne and make skin more radiant.
Drinks suitable for diabetes made from sugarcane juice
Although it is best to consume natural sweeteners once in a while and in moderation, you can consume sugarcane juice even with diabetes. Here are some simple and healthy recipes:
Cane Ginger Glazed Mocktail – 2 servings
- Ginger juice: ⅓ tablespoon
- Sugar cane juice: 1 ⅔ cup
- Powdered sugar: 1 tablespoon
- Lemon juice: ⅛ tablespoon
- Black salt: ⅛ teaspoon
- Put all the ingredients in a jar/bowl and mix well. Make sure there are no salt particles or lumps.
- Pour the mixture into an icing mould.
- Freeze the mixture for 2 to 3 hours.
- Now blend your frozen juice in a blender until it is muddy.
- Enjoy your homemade frozen mocktail!
Tropical Sugarcane Coconut Mocktail – 2 Servings
- Sugar cane juice: 2½ cups
- Black salt: ½ teaspoon
- Coconut water: 1 ½ cups
- Mint: 2-4 leaves
- Lemon slices: 1 (optional)
- Take sugar cane juice and coconut water in any closed jar and shake well.
- Keep it in the fridge and let it cool.
- Add the black salt to the mixture and mix well.
- Pour the mocktail into glasses and add mint leaves and lemon slices.
- Your summer mocktail is ready; serve it chilled.