I’ve eaten sugar cane before and found it tastes really good.
I’ve also tried sugar cane juice and it was equally as delicious. But, because it’s so sweet I was curious why, and also wondered whether sugarcane was classed as a vegetable.
I did a little research and here’s what I found.
Sugarcane isn’t a vegetable it is technically grass, and the sugar cane that is sold, and that is used to make sugar cane juice is the stem of the plant.
Sugar can be chewed on its own by first removing the skin, or crushed in a grinder to make sugarcane juice.
Sugar is only safe to eat in small amounts, and refined sugar is made from sugarcane among other vegetables.
So, below I will explain whether sugarcane is healthy to eat, whether you can eat it raw, describe what it tastes like, as well as the health benefits of sugarcane.
Can You Eat Raw Sugar Cane?
Sugarcane can be found in vegetable markets in tropical climates, as it grows particularly well. But, can you eat raw sugar cane?
As a general rule, it’s perfectly fine to eat raw sugar cane.
The skin is green and tough and is removed before you eat it.
The center is white and fibrous.
Sugarcane is chewed to release the juice which you drink.
The fiber is not eaten as it’s very tough and can irritate your throat.
Chewing sugarcane also cleans your teeth really well.
Sugarcane juice is regularly sold at markets where they have a motorized or hand crank grinder.
The grinder has two metal cogs, and the sugar cane is fed into it, where it is squeezed almost completely flat.
Generally, the skin is left on when it’s put into a grinder to extract the juice.
But, before chewing sugarcane you need to remove the skin.
You can remove the skin with your teeth but it’s very difficult.
Peeling with a knife is the best option, and the resultant peeled sugarcane is about an inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
It’s tough to chew on and so you need to bite a small piece off from the side.
Or chop it into bite-sized pieces. After you suck out all the juice the remaining pulp has virtually no flavor to it.
Here’s a video that shows how to eat sugar cane:
What Does Raw Sugar Cane Taste Like?
If you’ve never tried raw sugar cane before you may be wondering what it tastes like.
Here’s what it tasted like to me, and how others describe the taste.
Raw sugar cane tastes like weak raw sugar and has a sweet flavor that isn’t too overpowering.
It is very pleasant to eat.
As you chew it to release the juice and swallow the juice, you’re left wanting more.
Raw sugar juice is also very pleasant and refreshing to drink.
Raw sugar is the brown variety of sugar that has larger crystals than white sugar.
It’s different to brown sugar which has molasses added to it.
And has a finer consistency.
Raw sugar made from sugar cane is made by crushing it to remove the juice.
It’s then evaporated off to create a syrup.
The syrup is then spun, and the centrifugal force removes the remaining liquid to leave the relatively large light brown crystals which are raw sugar.
Raw sugar tastes much like raw sugarcane juice.
But, it is far more concentrated.
Technically, you can make raw sugar cane juice by adding raw sugar to a glass of water.
But, sugarcane juice has a much nicer flavor.
Sugar is also made by using sugar beets
Sugar beets are similar to beetroot except they have white flesh.
They also grow much larger and can grow as big as a large purple sweet potato.
Young sugar beets can be grated and added to a salad raw.
And mature sugar beets can be roasted like potatoes.
They can also be sliced thinly about a ¼ inch (½ cm) and friend, and are incredibly delicious.
Sugar made from sugar beets is made the same way that sugar made from sugarcane is made.
What Is Sugarcane Juice Good For?
Sugarcane juice is high in various nutrients, which are beneficial to many body processes.
So, what nutrients are found in sugarcane juice and what is it good for?
Sugarcane juice is a natural diuretic that can help with constipation.
It also contains antioxidants which have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer.
Overall, sugar cane is not high in any nutrients and contains about 1% of your recommended daily intake of various beneficial nutrients.
The main concern with sugarcane is the very high amounts of sugar.
Consuming sugar cane juice by chewing sugar cane is also sometimes referred to as a natural toothbrush.
The extremely fibrous characteristics of the pump thoroughly clean your teeth as you chew them to extract the juice.
Is Sugarcane Healthy to Eat?
Sugarcane is naturally high in sugar.
So, I wanted to know if it’s healthy to eat sugar cane.
I looked at the nutrients found in sugarcane and the recommended daily intakes of these same nutrients and here’s what I found.
It is healthy to eat sugarcane.
The pulp of sugarcane is not consumed, and only juice is consumed. The juice of sugarcane is also perfectly healthy to drink.
However, it contains a high amount of sugar.
And half a cup of sugarcane juice contains twice the recommended daily intake of sugar.
If you only consume half a cup or a cup of sugarcane juice every now and then, it won’t have much of an effect.
However, if you drink sugarcane juice every day you should limit your intake so that you don’t consume more than the recommended daily intake of sugar.
100 mL which is equal to just under half a cup of sugar cane juice contains 75g of sugar.
The recommended daily intake for an adult is 30g of sugar, according to medical professionals at NHS.uk.
So, if you consume sugar cane juice every day, you shouldn’t consume more than ¼ of a cup.
Any more than that and you risk developing various health issues such as type 2 diabetes.
Is Sugar a Vegetable or a Fruit?
Granulated sugar that is either white or brown doesn’t resemble fruit or a vegetable.
So, many people wonder where it comes from and whether it’s a fruit or a vegetable.
Here’s the answer.
Sugar is a vegetable. Sugar is made from sugarcane and sugarbeets.
Sugarcane is grass that grows 6–20 ft tall (2–6 m).
Sugar beets are very similar to beetroot and are root vegetables.
Sugar is made by juicing both of these vegetables and dehydrating it to isolate the sugar crystals.
Another well-known grass – that appears very oversized – is corn.
The seedpods of corn are harvested. With sugarcane, only the stem is harvested.
The stem makes up most of the plant and is long, and green, with an exterior that resembles bamboo.
But, instead of being hollow, it has a moist, mushy, and fibrous interior.
Sugar beets look similar to large purple sweet potatoes but instead have light brown skin and white flesh.
They also grow differently and grow like beetroots.
Where the top of the sugar beets partially sticks out of the ground.
And has multiple leafy stems that grow out of the top.
Both sugarcane and sugarbeets are crushed to extract the juice, which is heated to remove a lot of the water content. After that, it turns into a thick syrup.
The syrup is then spun in a special cylinder.
All of the moisture comes out due to the centrifugal force, and the remaining sugar crystals are left.
Is Natural Sugar Bad for You?
Sugar is found in fruits and adds a lot to their delicious taste.
Sugar is also made from sugarcane and sugar beets which are natural plants.
But, is natural sugar bad for you?
Natural sugar is not bad for you.
But, in large amounts, it can be bad for you.
According to medical professionals, natural sugars count towards the recommended daily intake of sugar.
Which for adults is 30g per day.
Sugarcane juice, and refined sugar, which includes both brown, and white sugar are the sugar that is talked about when medical professionals talk about recommended sugar intake.
Fruits also contain sugar.
However, there appears to be conflicting data at this stage about how much of the sugar in fruits is absorbed by the body.
And medical professionals don’t comment on whether eating fruits that are high in sugar should be avoided as they will count towards your daily sugar intake.
Nutritionists also recommend consuming a good amount of fruit per day.
And generally recommend 2 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables (source: Harvard Medical School).
They provided details of a very long-term study of more than 2 million people over more than 30 years.
During that time period, it was observed that people who consumed 2 servings of fruits and vegetables suffered a fatal illness 10% more than those that consumed 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.
Therefore, they concluded that consuming 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables is better than consuming less than that.
Since sugarcane is technically a vegetable, sugarcane juice can contribute to your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
But, in my opinion, it’s still best to not consume too much of it, because it has very high sugar content.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.