Sweet sugar cane
Sugar cane is a big part of our culture, cultivated in Jamaica on a commercial scale for centuries. The country depends on not only the sugar from the sugarcane but also on other by-products such as rum.
Although cane juice is consumed locally, more people consume the joints of cane freshly peeled. I am often asked by people with diabetes and those watching their caloric intake if they can consume cane. My general answer is yes, as it depends on the portion being consumed.
The benefit of fruits, vegetables, sugarcane and other such foods containing sugar is that when eaten in their unprocessed state, the benefits are greater. Sugarcane has a large percentage of water, fibre and other micronutrients. Processed sugar is concentrated and so one tablespoon of cane juice does not have the same amount of sugar as one tablespoon of processed sugar.
It was very difficult to find information on the nutrient profile of sugar cane, but information on the juice was more available. The following is extrapolated from information at www.practicalaction.org. One pound of raw sugar cane can give 1.6 ounces sugar. (Sugar content is dependent on factors such as variety, harvesting techniques and timelines of processing or consuming). One ounce of sugar is approximately two tablespoons and one pound of sugar cane is approximately two medium joints of approximately 5-6 inches long. Depending on your needs and restrictions, you can decide if you need one or two joints.
One joint of cane is unprocessed, unadulterated and refreshing, and would be a great after-meal, no-sugar-added dessert. Other no-sugar-added drinks to try are herbal teas (hot or cold), water with lime, lemon or orange slices, unsweetened soy or skimmed milk with cinnamon/vanilla and soursop juice concentrate with a small amount of fresh orange juice added. You can experiment; it is amazing how many healthy refreshing options we have overlooked.
Share your negative and positive experiences as you embark on your fourth week on this no-sugar-added journey for L¢ent.
Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: email@example.com.