Health Benefits Of Sugarcane Juice
The health benefits of sugarcane juice extend from preventing tooth decay to cancer. Read on to know about the benefits of sugarcane juice for diabetes, nutrition, weight loss and more.
By Amrita Gracias
Most of us are vaguely familiar with the health benefits of sugarcane juice. No matter which town or city you live in India, you must have passed by carts selling glasses of this sweet liquid, especially during summer. And, together with others, you would have treated yourself to a glass or two of this refreshing and nutritious thirst quencher.
Before you reach out for your next glass of sugarcane juice, let's get to know about some interesting facts and, more importantly, the many benefits of sugarcane juice.
Origin of sugarcane
The sugarcane belongs to the grass family. Widely cultivated across India in both temperate and tropical climatic regions, the sugarcane is believed to have been first grown in New Guinea. From there, it gradually spread to Southeast Asia and then to India through traders of early civilisations.
Eventually, the sugarcane was taken to the Middle East, parts of Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and finally to both North and South America. Now mostly grown as a cash crop, the sugarcane also happens to be the largest cultivated crop world over. It is grown primarily for its sucrose-rich juice, from which sugar can be extracted.
Nutritional value of sugarcane juice (100g)
- Calories 242
- Protein 0.16g
- Total fat 0.40g
- Total fibre 0.56g
- Free sugar 12.85g
- Potassium 150mg
- Sodium 1.16mg
- Magnesium 13.03mg
- Phosphorous 22.08mg
- Iron 1.12mg
- Calcium 18mg
- Thiamin 0.03mg
- Riboflavin 0.04mg
Data based on NIN (National Institute of Nutrition) – Indian Food Composition Tables (2017)
Benefits of sugarcane juice
Sugarcane contains minimal fats, protein and cholesterol, but it has bountiful amounts of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium, zinc, thiamine and riboflavin. An instant energy booster owing to its high levels of sucrose, sugarcane juice is also a natural remedy for several health conditions. Let’s read a little about various health benefits of sugarcane juice.
- Keeps skin healthy: Although not much talked about, sugarcane juice’s benefits for skin are many. Sugarcane juice contains alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid. These acids play an important role in skin care as they help in exfoliation and keep the skin hydrated. Drinking sugarcane juice also removes blemishes, dark spots and acne. Applying sugarcane juice mixed with honey on the face makes the skin soft and supple. In their study, Abbas et al explain that the presence of phenolic compounds and antioxidants prevents hydroxyl radicals from damaging the DNA.
- Prevents liver damage: One of the most important sugarcane juice benefits for liver include protecting the organ from damage. In India, sugarcane juice is often recommended for those suffering from jaundice; it helps regulate normal bilirubin levels. It has hepatoprotective properties together with having an anti-inflammatory and antihyperglycemic effect.
- Benefits diabetics Sugarcane juice’s benefits for diabetes include its low glycaemic index and natural sugars. This prevents a sudden rise in the blood sugar level in diabetic patients. However, sugarcane juice must be consumed in moderation by diabetic patients. It is also advisable to consult a doctor before adding the juice to your regular diet.
- Promotes weight loss: Drinking sugarcane juice for weight loss has an added benefit — it provides energy without adding calories. The soluble fibre present in the juice aids in weight loss by binding with the fat and preventing it from being stored in the body. Fibre also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which prevents the urge for unnecessary snacking or overeating. The alkaline nature of sugarcane juice aids in burning fat and prevents increase in acidity levels. The juice is also known to remove bad cholesterol from the body.
- Maintains kidney health: Sugarcane juice is a diuretic – this means that the juice works on the kidneys and helps the body get rid of extra fluids and salts. According to a study by Singh et al, sugarcane juice keeps the kidneys functioning normally and facilitates fast and clear urine flow. Drinking the juice also prevents the formation of kidney stones and decreases the burning sensation felt with urinary tract infection.
- Aids in better digestion: The potassium in sugarcane juice helps maintain the pH levels in the body and promotes the secretion of digestive juices. According to Ayurveda, sugarcane juice also has laxative properties (owing to the fibre), which improves bowel movements and prevents constipation. The alkaline properties of the juice aid in relieving acidity as well. An important benefit of having sugarcane juice is that it keeps stomach infections at bay while preventing problems like cramps, gas and bloating.
- Builds immunity: The high level of Vitamin C (one of the biggest immunity boosters) and antioxidants helps fight various disorders such as those of the stomach, respiratory tract and liver. It also keeps common infections such as cold and fever at bay. Thus, sugarcane juice helps build a strong immune system.
- Boosts bone and muscle health: The juice of the sugarcane is rich in minerals, such as calcium and phosphorous, which are essential to strengthen bones. So, one of the benefits of having sugarcane juice is a boost in bone health and a reduced risk of osteoporosis, which is a common problem in later years. Sugarcane juice is especially good for the physical growth and development of children.
- Strengthens teeth / nails: Minerals such as phosphorous and calcium present in sugarcane juice help build teeth enamel, prevent tooth decay and strengthen the teeth. Consuming the juice can also help fight bad breath, occurring due to nutrient deficiency or cavities. These minerals also fortify nails that are weak and brittle and make them strong and shiny.
- Prevents cancer: Studies have claimed that drinking sugarcane juice lowers the risks of developing certain types of cancers – particularly breast and prostate cancer. In a chapter in the book Sugarcane Biotechnology: Challenges and Prospects, Dr Chinnaraja Chinnadurai, explains that the concentration of minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron and calcium make sugarcane juice highly alkaline in nature. And, it is difficult for cancer cells to survive in an alkaline environment.
Sugarcane juice during pregnancy
Sugarcane juice is said to be an excellent choice for pregnant women. Consuming sugarcane juice during pregnancy increases metabolism, reduces symptoms of morning sickness, boosts immunity, and provides necessary vitamins and minerals. Its low glycaemic index is an added advantage, as it boosts energy levels without causing weight gain. The potassium present in sugarcane juice improves digestion and prevents constipation. Sugarcane juice also prevents stomach infections.
Uses of sugarcane juice and sugarcane residue
- Apart from using it to make sugar, the juice is also used to make jaggery, molasses and ethanol.
- In the northern Philippines, sugarcane juice is boiled down to a thick caramelised syrup to be made into a sweet candy. When still pliable, the syrup is stretched into rods and then stretched and folded repeatedly. Small bite-sized chunks are then cut, shaped and baked. The candy is enjoyed plain or added to a cup of coffee as an alternative to sugar, but it also has a delicious caramel flavour.
- The fibrous residue, or bagasse, that remains after extracting the juice is used to make paper; it is also used as a biofuel.
- With advancements in technology, the bagasse is now being converted into cattle feed.
Recipe ideas using sugarcane juice
Although sugarcane juice is usually consumed as a drink, it can be added to recipes. Here are a couple of recipes using sugarcane juice:
Sugarcane juice payasam / kheer
- ½ cup rice
- ½ cup moong dal (split green gram)
- 2 cups sugarcane juice
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- A handful of dry fruits (cashews, almonds, raisins)
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- Water – as required to cook rice and dal
Method of preparation:
- First cook the soaked rice and moong dal in a closed pan until almost done.
- Then, add the sugarcane juice and cook till completely done. Mix well.
- In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and sauté the dry fruits. Add these to the cooked rice and dal.
- Add cardamom powder.
- The payasam is ready to serve.
- A few chunks of frozen sugarcane
- 2 cups sugarcane juice
- 1 cup tender coconut flesh
- 1 tbsp condensed milk
Method of preparation:
- Blend all the ingredients in a blender.
- Serve chilled.
Interesting facts about sugarcane
- Sugarcane stalks can grow between three and six metres tall.
- After Brazil, India is the second largest producer of sugarcane.
- The juice forms 90% of the weight of sugarcane.
- Sugarcane juice has been used in Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine since ancient times to cure various diseases.
- The process of crystallising sugarcane juice into sugar was first discovered in India around 350 CE.
- Bioethanol, which is produced from the fermented sugars of sugarcane, can even be used as a fuel for automobiles.
How to choose and store sugarcane
Choose ones that have dried leaves and yellowish-green stalks with a few reddish-brown patches. Stalks that are thin and heavy taste better. The flesh should be white; avoid ones with flesh that is brown or red.
Sugarcane juice must be consumed immediately after it is extracted as it ferments easily. It is not advisable to store the juice for long even in the refrigerator. However, the sugarcane stalks can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. When consuming sugarcane juice from a vendor, make sure that the juice is being extracted and served under hygienic conditions.
Now that you know how much a glass of sugarcane juice can benefit your health, go ahead and enjoy more of this refreshing glass of goodness!
About the author:
Written by Amrita Gracias on 23 October 2019
Amrita Gracias holds a degree in English Literature from Stella Maris College, Chennai and a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (specialising in Print Media) from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. She takes to writing and editing when she isn't answering to the duties of motherhood!
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