Isn't sugar just... sugar? Types of sugar at a glance
Like most people, the word "sugar" probably conjures up an image in your mind of the glistening crystals that you spoon into your coffee for a pleasantly sweet taste. But there are numerous other types of sugar besides this well-known granulated version that we should really be crystal-clear on...
Sugar: a natural product.
Sugar is actually a carbohydrate, formed by all green plants during the process of photosynthesis. We find various types of sugar in nature: simple sugars (monosaccharides), such as glucose and fructose, occur in fruit or honey, for example. Lactose or sucrose – the classic household sugar – count as disaccharides. Potatoes and grains contain so-called polysaccharides, better known as starch; beyond this, sugar is also found in numerous natural foods. Sugar in itself is therefore a natural product. But refined white table sugar obtained from sugar cane or sugar beet contains only fructose and glucose after the manufacturing process is complete. The vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the original, natural source have been stripped away. As a result, the product supplies energy and flavor, but no other nutrients.
Brown sugar, whole cane sugar and raw cane sugar: better alternatives?
Unfortunately, it's a popular myth that brown sugar is healthier than white granulated sugar. Tiny traces of the nutritious molasses do remain during production, but these don't really contain any significant nutritional value.
It's a similar story with raw cane sugar: unlike cane sugar, the sugar crystals are refined just once, so a small amount of molasses is retained ‒ this explains its soft brown color. Lamentably, however, there are hardly any nutrients in raw cane sugar either.
The picture is a bit different with whole cane sugar. It's somewhat richer in nutrients, as the molasses is retained along with the vitamins and minerals. The end product is dark in color, with an intense flavor, as it undergoes minimal processing. Despite these advantages, whole cane sugar should be enjoyed mindfully, just like any other type of sugar.
Tip: if you want to bake or cook with whole cane sugar, be aware of its strong aroma. It's best used in small doses, or use natural sugar alternatives such as honey or agave syrup.
If you are interested in learning more about how to replace ordinary table sugar with natural sweeteners, take a look HERE. In this article we reveal all you need to know about stevia, birch sugar, and the rest.
Sugar-free or no added sugar – what's the difference?
Let me end on this important note: Hidden sugar is found in all sorts of foods, but it is also concealed by various names. So if you want to eat mindfully, check the packaging information when you hit the aisles. If you see "no added sugar" on the carton for our delicious Organic Rice Drink, for example, it means that no extra sugar has been added. However, sugar can still occur naturally in the product, or as a result of the manufacturing process.
If you see "sugar-free", meanwhile ‒ like on our Almond Drink or Almond Yogurt Alternative Natural ‒ then you can be absolutely certain that no sugar, in any form, is present in the product – only heavenly flavor!
New to our range: Dream & Joya Rice Drink and Oat Drink with an incredible 0 % sugar!