Rapadura Sugar: Why indulging in sweets doesn’t mean you have to skimp on nutrition

Whilst I encourage everyone to consume sugar sparingly, if you decide to indulge in a little sugar every now and then (like our delicious healthy hot chocolate featured in our winter cookbook), there are a number of alternatives that will trump the heavily processed and oh so dangerous white powder lurking in your pantry. My favourite? Rapadura Sugar.

Rapadura Sugar is extracted from the sugar cane plant by first pressing out the juice of sugar cane. The water of the juice is then evaporated over low heat before the remaining crystals are ground to produce the final product. That’s it. Clean and simple.

The most distinctive health benefit of Rapadura sugar, and what sets it apart from all other types of sugar, lies in its nutritional content. Because Rapadura is not separated from the molasses, the vitamins and minerals have been retained. As such, Rapadura contains Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphate, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Zinc and more importantly, Iron. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, B6, C, D2, E and PP.

Naturally dark in colour, Rapadura sugar has a slight caramel flavor. Simply substitute rapadura for any other sugar on a 1:1 basis. It is available from all good health food stores – search for the organic variety. 

Some information on other sugars:

How Raw Sugar is Made:

  1. Sugar cane is pressed and mixed with lime
  2. The liquid is reduced through evaporation, then the crystals are spun in a centrifuge to separate. It is then left out to dry

As you can see, ‘raw’ sugar isn’t really raw. It is just slightly less refined than white sugar, so it retains some of the molasses.  Unlike table sugar, it contains minerals, but only trace amounts, nothing special.

How White Sugar is made:

  1. Same as above, but then Sulphur Dioxide is commonly used to bleach the sugar.
  2. Later, phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide are used to absorb impurities. This is then filtered through a bed of carbon.
  3. What remains is then crystalized in a vacuum, several times. Before being left out to dry.There is no nutritional benefit to white sugar. However there are a number of health concerns associated with its consumption.

Brown Sugar:

Brown sugar is just white sugar mixed with molasses. A no go for me!