Label Decoder: Cane Juice by Toby Amidor in Label Decoder, August 20, 2009
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Check the labels on some of those new “natural” beverages at health food stores — you might notice a common sweetener: “cane juice.” But is it really any better than sugar?
What is it?
Simply put: cane juice = sugar. Many food companies have started using cane juice instead of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners in their mixes. The only difference between cane juice and regular table sugar is that table sugar undergoes an extra step during processing. Because cane juice is less processed, it retains a bit more riboflavin, a nutrient that’s naturally found in sugar cane. Cane juice comes in a variety of forms, all of which are darker in color than typical white sugar and have a molasses-like flavor. You might see it listed as “evaporated cane juice,” “milled cane sugar” and “dried cane juice” on labels, but it’s all still sugar.
Like table sugar, cane juice mainly is composed of two sugar units, which combine to create the “double-sugar” called sucrose. Sucrose is quickly and easily digested by the body. Just because you find it in foods marketed as healthier, don’t be duped. Cane juice is safe to consume, but eating too much sweetened, processed food can rack up calories quickly. Studies have linked sugar-heavy diets to contributing to obesity, tooth decay and heart disease. Plus, new reports show that Americans are loading up on sugars more and more these days — the average woman should only get six teaspoons a day but most are getting 22 teaspoons (and teens are consuming even more!).
A little cane juice won’t hurt; like we always say, it’s all about moderation.