Sugar and monosodium glutamate have one thing in common. People are more likely to buy products containing them if they are called something else. Consumers trying to avoid sugar have started reading food labels. Many have begun to think that sugar by another name is not really sugar. Manufacturers know that calling sugar evaporated cane juice for instance, fools people into thinking there is less sugar in the product. Many label readers have caught on to the fact that ingredients have to be listed in order, from the largest amount contained down to the smallest. By using different names for sugar, manufacturers can split the content among the different names, putting the idea of sugar further down on the label without actually reducing the amount of sugar in the product.
Once upon a time health food stores did not carry products containing sugar. Today what we think of as a “health food store” is often a type of hybrid resulting from the cross breeding of true health food stores with traditional grocery retailers. These new stores are trying to capitalize on having a healthy image, while their shelves are stocked with products containing processed sugar, often listed by one of its other names.
However, both evaporated cane juice and white sugar are both sucrose, and both contain 400 calories in 100 grams. Both evaporated cane juice and white cane sugar have been heavily processed to remove the molasses content. During this processing the vitamins, minerals, fiber, amino acids, and trace elements that make molasses nutritious have been striped away, leaving one of the purest chemicals ever manufactured. Only tiny amounts of vitamin A and calcium remain in evaporated cane juice. Following processing, evaporated cane juice is 99.5 percent sucrose, and white sugar is 99.9 percent sucrose. Turbinado sugar is 99 percent sucrose.
Whether sugar is eaten in the form of white sugar, evaporated cane juice, turbinado, or any of the other names for it, its effect on the body is the same. When eaten in large amounts, or eaten without fat or protein, each of them will produce the same sort of insulin spike, weight gain, immune system suppression, and increased chance for diabetes. It has been implicated in Syndrome X and heart disease as well.
The big difference between evaporated cane juice and granulated sugar is the price, which runs about 8 to 10 dollars a pound for evaporated cane juice compared to about 1 to 3 dollars a pound for white sugar. If manufacturers are willing to spend the extra money to put the words evaporated cane juice on their labels, it means they know the public is seriously trying to avoid eating sugar and needs to be tricked into eating it anyway.
Our collective sweet tooth goes back to the days when we lived in caves and life was a physical event rather than a mental one, as it is now. We needed to eat foods high in nutrients in order to have energy to get through the physical challenges of the typical day. Sweets eaten back then were primarily berries and other fruits that contained beneficial nutrients, enzymes and many phytochemicals to keep us going strong. Back then, a sweet tooth was not a bad thing. But sugar craving still exists for the purpose of compelling people to seek high energy nutrition. Until that nutrition is obtained, sugar craving continues, leaving today’s people in that vicious circle where more nutrient depleted sweets are eaten, and more sugar craving signals are sent. For many people, sugar has almost completely replaced nutrient dense foods, with obesity and health issues as the results. Next time you want something sweet, eat some fruit.