Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Evaporated Cane Juice


If you ever happen to look at food labels, you may have run across this: "Evaporated Cane Juice"(ECJ). It seems to be commonly found in organic products and other 'health' foods. I noticed it one day, and it got me thinking...how is that different than plain old sugar? Is it really more healthy or are they just trying to pull a fast one on me? So, being the curious fellow I am...I googled it.

Here's what I found:

Basically, Evaporated Cane Juice is sugar that is a little less processed. Wikipedia has a good section on sugar cane processing. There are two schools of thought about ECJ...

1) Any carbohydrates that are less refined are better, and the less refined product has more nutrients
2) The two products are nearly identical in chemical composition, yet not in price...so save your cash

Here are two sources that claim health benefits:

Evaporated cane juice is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. While both sweetners are made from sugar cane, evaporated cane juice does not undergo the same degree of processing that refined sugar does. Therefore, unlike refined sugar, it retains more of the nutrients found in sugar cane.
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=120#nutritionalprofile

This site compares many different types of sugar products:

http://www.floridacrystals.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=pages.EvaporatedCaneJuice

Here is a blog that does not believe the benefits out weigh the increased cost:

Evaporated cane juice and plain old sugar are unequivocally the same, α-D-fructofuranosyl β-D-glucopyranoside (aka, sucrose, table sugar).
http://webercam.com/2008/04/evaporated-cane-juice-vs-granulated.html

It seems to me that it is very similar to regular sugar. All things being equal, it does have higher amounts of certain nutrients, so it probably is a bit better. The B vitamins that it provides are readily found in many other common foods, however. Organic ECJ seems to be a popular way to sweeten organic products, so environmentally and ecologically it may come out ahead.

I rarely do much baking and do not use very much granulated sugar at all. Since the price is much higher, I probably would not buy ECJ over regular white sugar. However, when checking labels, now I know what the term means and can purchase accordingly.

Other sugar posts:
Evaporated Cane Juice: Part II
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Caramel Apples
Sugar and the Environment
Alternative Sugar Names
A Look at Agave
Where to Buy

9 comments:

Nimic said...

I've often wondered about evaporated cane juice. I thought the same thing - isn't that sugar? lol. Thanks for doing the research!

Anonymous said...
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annares said...

Thanks for this - I found your post - and blog - while doing a bit of research on the topic of evaporated cane juice for a post of my own, but it was great to be able to link to yours, for all the great research you did.

optimumhealth said...

evaoprated cane juice is different in chemical composition vs. table sugar. ECJ is fructose, glucose and sucrose. table sugar is all sucrose. this is important since fructose is metabolized slower in the body...hence avoiding the sugar spike of table sugar(sucrose). add to this the mineral and vitamin content of ecj and there you have more information to make an informed choise. ecj is better than table sugar and certainly less negative to health.whoever says they are the same chemical composition is wrong and misinformed...

drwwg

sniff5cat said...

Thanks. This is so useful and give you allthe inforamtion you need in one go. Saved me a lot of time. I have a recipe for avocado chocolae mousse that asks for this product. Does anyone know if I can use honey instead and whether there are advantages to this?
L

Anonymous said...

Refined sugar (that is, sucrose) is made up of a molecule of the carbohydrate glucose, bonded to a molecule of the carbohydrate fructose — a 50-50 mixture of the two. The fructose, which is almost twice as sweet as glucose, is what distinguishes sugar from other carbohydrate-rich foods like bread or potatoes that break down upon digestion to glucose alone.

sharlie said...

perhaps the only difference is the carbon footprint! there might not be a huge difference between ECJ and table sugar but the processing may be the biggest difference.

On another note .... is anyone finding that items that are considered 'greener' costing a lot more?

thanks for the blog on ECJ :D

Chief said...

I would suspect there is a direct correlation between the increased demand for "green" products and their price premium.

Joshua S. said...

Somehwat confusing to research this topic on the net. I am finding that white sugar, brown sugar, and ECJ most likley have extremely similar chemical makeups. However, white sugar and brown sugar go through a huge amount of chemical processing that could effect the very chemical makeup of the sugar. So, it is quite confusing to hear both sides on the topic. I would think that they are all so close together that it would good to see white, brown, and cane juice as merely brothers and having very similar effects to the body. Though it has a different name, they all come from the same source (cane) and therefore have similar properties. All sugar has some sucrose, glucose, and fructose. They act very similar to the body. Because there is fructose and glucose in EVJ, I would avoid it just as I would white sugar.