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Friday, 10 April 2015

Eating Sugarcane – Its Many Great Health Benefits



About the year 1990 I ran into a magazine which was given to me by a friend from the Cuban embassy in Lagos; it always had these series of very exciting anecdotes in it. In this series of humorous anecdotes was one that has made a lasting impression on me. It was a short humorous story bothering on the question it asked, “What is the difference between Cane Sugar and Sugarcane?” And there is a big difference! My guess is that with all the huge ‘campaign’ about diabetes and sugar, you would probably not want to imagine yourself consuming sugarcane like you may have been used to when you were a kid, that is if you ever did.

Sugarcane plants

No, sugarcane is not a kiddies’ candy or dangerous snack if I may put it that way. Sugarcane (juice) on the contrary, can actually be a very nutritious healthful snack or drink if you like. But before I go any further I will like to come back to give you a proper differentiation between sugarcane and cane sugar. 

Cane Sugar 

First of all, cane sugar is the everyday sugar you use on a daily basis in your tea and drinks, beverages, foods, etc. In other words, cane sugar is sugar derived or extracted from sugarcane; it is therefore a form of refined sugar which means it is devoid of the basic vital natural nutrients it originally came with. Cane sugar in this sense is processed sugar.

Sugarcane

On the other hand sugarcane is the cane containing raw sugar as it is harvested from the farm. Sugarcane is therefore not refined or processed sugar; it is whole and natural.

A brief on Sugarcane

The sugarcane belongs to the (perennial) grass family and is often described as the most important member of the plant kingdom - with a metabolism leading to the accumulation of sucrose. This sucrose is transported as glucose and fructose within the growing plant, and provides the cheapest source of energy giving food for us all.

Today this plant which mostly is of Indian origin is widely cultivated all over the world. India leads the world in sugarcane cultivation, followed by Brazil, Cuba, China, Mexico, Pakistan, USA, South Africa, and Columbia. Sugarcane is as well cultivated in Nigeria especially in the northern part of the country, and it is eaten by so many people usually during the hot weather as a means of quenching thirst.

Health benefits of sugarcane

Originally, sugarcane was grown for the purpose of chewing by the Pacific and South-Eastern Asian people as a form of refreshment, and it is important to note that this practice has continued to this day especially in the tropics. This is where the goodness of sugarcane lies. The reasons I want to emphasise while highlighting the remarkable differences between sugarcane and cane sugar is that sugarcane juice is both refreshing and nutritious. The juice comes with about 15 percent natural sugar, which is also rich in organic salts and vitamins such as calcium, phosphorus and iron – it is a complete natural food.

Sugarcane juice has proved over time to be very healthful and even having curative properties in conditions involving the kidneys, heart, eyes, stomach, sex organs, and the brain:


Fevers

In feverish conditions sugarcane juice has been used to control and restore the patient to normal condition by freely administering it to supply the necessary proteins and other food elements required for recovery.

Genito-urinary Disorders

Sugarcane juice is very helpful in treating this disorder, especially when mixed with lime juice, ginger juice and coco-nut water; it really helps to restore free urinary flow. It will effectively also help the kidney functions, deal with hyper-acidity of the region while tackling related issues of - enlarged prostate, cystitis, nephritis, and gonorrhea.

Sugarcane stems

Dental strength

Sucking the sugarcane juice straight from the cane is a form of exercise for the teeth especially if you have been too used to soft foods; it also helps to cleanse the teeth and keep them strong.

Eye Disorders

Now I find this one so interesting: the early morning dew that hangs from the tip of the sugarcane leaf is highly medicinal and effective for treating eye problems such as – defective vision, cataract, conjunctivitis or what is popularly referred to as Apollo in Nigeria, burning eye sensation and strain e.g. after excessive reading or gazing at the computer screen.

Thinness

Another surprise I want to share with you is the fact that sugarcane juice is actually a proven fattening food! Thus for those of you who want to seriously put on weight, a regular consumption of this wonderful natural juice will quickly help you achieve your desired weight gain. But let it be told that you cannot become obese just by eating sugarcane even if it helps thin people to gain a healthy weight.

Jaundice

This ailment is explained and observed by the yellowing of the skin, and the whites of the eyes caused by an accumulation of bile pigment (bilirubin) in the blood. But if you extract sugarcane juice and mix it with some lime juice, it will certainly go a long way towards eradicating any issues pertaining to jaundice. But make sure that the preparation of this beverage is done under strictly hygienic conditions to avoid any form of infections. 


By Morgan Nwanguma

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