Saturday Special: Can People with Diabetes Have Sugarcane Juice?
Sugarcane juice is a sweet, refreshing beverage commonly consumed in parts of India, Africa, Asia.
As this drink becomes more mainstream, it’s being marketed as an all-natural beverage with a wide range of health benefits.
Nonetheless, it’s high in sugar, so you may wonder whether it’s safe for people with diabetes.
Sugarcane juice is a sweet, syrupy liquid that’s pressed from peeled sugar cane. It’s often sold by street vendors who mix it with lime or other juices and serve it over ice for a tasty drink.
It can also be processed to make cane sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and jaggery.
In Brazil, it’s fermented and used to make a liquor called cachaça.
Sugarcane juice isn’t pure sugar. It comprises about 70–75% water, 13–15% sugar in the form of sucrose the same as table sugar, and up to 10–15% fiber.
What’s more, it’s packed with phenolic and flavonoid antioxidants.
These antioxidants may reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses by protecting your DNA from oxidative damage. This damage is caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.
Because it’s not processed like most sugary drinks, sugarcane juice retains its vitamins and minerals. It also offers electrolytes, such as potassium, which can rehydrate you after a workout.
Sugarcane juice is made by pressing the liquid out of sugar cane. It can be enjoyed as a naturally sweet beverage or processed into various sweeteners. It’s also a source of antioxidants and other nutrients
Although it provides several nutrients, sugarcane juice remains high in sugar and carbs.
A 1-cup (240-ml) serving offers:
Protein: 0 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Sugar: 50 grams
Fiber: 0–13 grams
Sugarcane juice has varying amounts of fiber. Some products list just a trace, while others, including Sugarcane Island’s raw sugarcane juice, boast up to 13 grams per cup (240 ml).
Sugar is a carb that your body breaks down into glucose. Some high carb foods and beverages may raise your blood sugar too much if you have diabetes.
However, sugarcane juice may affect your blood sugar less significantly than other sugary beverages. That’s because its glycemic index (GI) stands at 30–40, which is fairly low.
The GI uses a 0–100 scale to determine how foods affect your blood sugar. Foods scored 70 or higher are considered high glycemic and tend to raise your blood sugar quickly, while those scored 55 or lower are low glycemic and have less of an effect.
Sugarcane juice is on the lower side because its combination of fiber, antioxidants, and naturally occurring sugar likely lessens its effects on blood sugar.
Sugarcane juice is very high in sugar but has a low GI, which means that it shouldn’t spike your blood sugar levels.
Despite its high sugar content, sugarcane juice is likely safe to drink in small amounts if you have diabetes. It may even offer some health benefits.
Interestingly, test-tube studies on sugarcane extract suggest that its polyphenol antioxidants may help pancreas cells produce more insulin the hormone that regulates your blood sugar by moving glucose from your blood to your cells.
Additionally, these antioxidants may prevent your intestines from absorbing some of the sugar in sugarcane.
Sugarcane juice makes a good swap for sugary soft drinks that have little nutritional value and a higher GI. However, it’s important to drink it in moderation, as it can still contribute carbs and calories.
If you want to enjoy its naturally sweet taste and health benefits without drinking the juice itself, you can buy a small piece of sugar cane at your local health food store or online.
Just slice a thin piece from the stalk and chew on it to extract the juice. It’s very tough and fibrous, so make sure you spit it out afterward.
Despite its high carb content, sugarcane juice may boast several anti-diabetes effects. Still, if you have this condition, it’s better to play it safe and drink it in moderation.
Sugarcane juice is an unrefined drink extracted from sugar cane.
While naturally high in sugar, it has a low glycemic index and serves up a healthy dose of antioxidants. As such, a small amount isn’t likely to cause blood sugar spikes and is appropriate for most people with managed diabetes.
Although its antioxidants may even provide some anti-diabetes benefits, you should still be sure to drink it in moderation. If you are unsure whether sugarcane juice is safe for you, speak to your healthcare professional.