Sugarcane juice has been used for centuries now, mainly for medicinal purposes, but also as a healthy, unprocessed beverage to soothe the thirst of millions of people around Asia, Africa, and India. Nowadays, science suggests that sugarcane juice may also be beneficial in the fight against obesity – a growing health issue that is linked to numerous complications if not treated in time.
What is sugarcane juice?
Sugarcane juice, also known as ganne ka ras in Hindi, is a sweet, sugary beverage that has been consumed in parts of India, Africa, and Asia for years now. Recently, the popularity of sugarcane juice has spread to other parts of the world, becoming quite the mainstream drink that more and more people are introducing to their daily diet.
But it is not only because of its sweet taste that has caused its popularity to grow, but rather its multiple beneficial effects on our health. Sugarcane juice is a part of traditional Eastern medicine where it has been used to treat various health issues, including kidney, liver, and other diseases (1).
The sugarcane juice is made by pressing peeled sugar cane. Wondering around the streets of Asia, Africa, and India, you can see sugarcane juice being sold by street vendors. You can find pure sugarcane juice served on ice, or you can also find it is mixed with lime juice or other juices to improve its taste. Sugarcane juice is also processed to create brown sugar, molasses, jaggery, rum, and even a special alcoholic drink in Brazil, known by the name of cachaça.
The nutritional value of sugarcane juice
Although sugarcane juice has multiple health benefits that we are going to discuss in a bit, many of you are probably worried about its sugar content. But sugarcane juice is more than pure sugar. It consists of around 75% water, about 10-15% fiber, and only 13-15% sugar. The sugar found in the sugarcane juice is sucrose, which is the same as the table sugar, which is the major source of most of the table sugar that is consumed in the world.
One cup (250 ml) of sugarcane juice offers around:
- 180 calories;
- 50 grams sugar;
- 0-13 grams fiber;
- 0 grams protein;
- 0 grams fat (2).
Although sugarcane juice does contain a lot of carbs and sugar, it is still a low-GI drink (low-Glycemic Index). This means that the consummation of sugarcane juice will not cause an instant spike in your blood sugar levels and instead will act as a sustainable energy source, releasing energy gradually so that it keeps you energized throughout the day.
It is worth mentioning, though, that despite its low-GI, sugarcane juice also has a high glycemic load (GL). The high-GL shows that sugarcane juice will cause an outsized increase in blood sugar levels overall. Because of this, sugarcane juice is considered to be a poor choice for anyone who has diabetes (3).
Since it is unprocessed, sugarcane juice is a lot healthier than the usual processed juices and other beverages that we consume daily. In its pure, unprocessed form, sugarcane juice represents a valuable source of phenolic and flavonoid antioxidants (4). It is because of these antioxidants that people believe sugarcane juice has many health benefits.
It also carries electrolytes within it, including potassium, which makes it an incredibly refreshing and hydrating drink. Multiple vitamins and minerals are found in sugarcane juice. The list includes phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, as well as many important vitamins such as Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, and E.
Health benefits of drinking sugarcane juice
It helps reduce any fine lines and wrinkles
Being a rich source of phenolic acid and flavonoids, sugarcane juice can help moisturize the skin and make it soft and healthy-looking. It can also help prevent and reduce any visible fine lines and wrinkles (5).
It promotes a healthy pregnancy
If you want your baby to be healthy and happy while growing in the womb, then you need to focus on introducing all of the important nutrients through your diet. One of those nutrients is folic acid, which has been scientifically shown to be able to reduce the risk of many birth defects, including spina bifida (6). It is a good thing that folic acid is one of the nutrients found in sugarcane juice.
It strengthens the immune system
If you want to strengthen your immune system and avoid the common cold or any other infections, then you need sugarcane juice. Because of its rich nutritional value, drinking sugarcane juice can strengthen your immune system and fight off any infections in the near future.
It can prevent cancer
Researchers suggest that flavonoids can help prevent several different types of cancer, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal cancer (7). As we mentioned several times now, sugarcane juice is a great source of flavonoids, meaning that it can help lower your risk of cancer.
It strengthens the liver
One of the main reasons why sugarcane juice has been widely used as a part of Ayurvedic medicine is because of its ability to strengthen and cleanse the liver. Sugarcane juice is considered to be one of the best natural remedies for jaundice – a health issue that characterizes itself with yellowing of the skin due to elevated levels of bilirubin triggered by a poor liver function (8).
It is an effective diuretic
Being an effective diuretic is probably the most important health benefits of sugarcane juice. In the past, sugarcane juice has been used to treat various UTIs (urinary tract infections), kidney stones, and improper kidney function.
Losing weight with the help of sugarcane juice
Many people consider sugarcane juice the ultimate weight loss drink. And there are many reasons as to why that is. Here are some of the major factors why sugarcane juice can help you lose weight.
It is fat-free
Sugarcane juice contains 0 fats, which are a very important factor that makes it a weight-loss friendly drink. Reducing the amount of fat can help deliver some quite beneficial weight loss results. As a 2018 study explained, low-fat diets are one of the most effective and prospective weight-loss method known to man (9).
And while you do not have to worry about consuming excessive fats, you also do not have to worry about consuming any artificial sweeteners and sugars as well. All of the sugar found in the sugarcane juice is natural and one that your body can use and benefit from. You can have your sugarcane juice whenever you are craving something sweet but want to stay away from any unhealthy sugars.
It is a rich source of fiber
Yet another major reason why sugarcane juice is a great weight loss-friendly drink is its fiber content. As we already explained, a cup of sugarcane juice can contain as much as 13 grams of fiber. With your daily cup of sugarcane juice, you can satisfy up to 32% of your daily fiber requirements.
If science has taught us anything, that is to look for fiber-rich foods whenever we want to lose weight. Relying on the fiber during your weight loss journey can help you satisfy your hunger better, keeping you full for long periods of time (10, 11). Many people struggle with the feelings of hunger and starvation, which eventually causes them to binge eat, thus preventing any weight loss to take place. But with the help of sugarcane juice, you do not have to be worried about feeling hungry.
It boosts your energy levels
If you are feeling drained, having a cup of sugarcane juice can help. Because of its high sugar content, sugarcane juice can boost your energy levels, and with that, keep you moving throughout the day.
Fatigue can damage your motivation to head to the gym and get your workout for the day, which we all know is an essential part of the weight loss process. But also feeling drained after a workout can cause your brain to associate working out with negative feelings, causing you to feel less motivated and less likely to work out regularly. Having a cup of sugarcane juice before or after your workout can provide the needed energy to sweat it out in the gym.
It promotes gut health
Having a healthy gut is very important as it is related to almost every aspect of human health, including weight loss. Science has shown that obese individuals have a lower gut diversity, meaning that they have fewer types of bacteria in their gut, as compared to those with normal body weight (12).
Luckily, drinking sugarcane juice daily can help provide relief from various gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, and promote gut health. Thanks to sugarcane juice, you will no longer experience any gut issues and will be able to lose weight properly.
It boosts your metabolism
Having a fast metabolism means that you will be burning more calories on a daily level. This does come in handy whenever you are trying to lose weight (13). There are many ways in which you can boost your metabolism, one of which is to introduce sugarcane juice to your daily diet. By promoting gut health and detoxifying your body, sugarcane juice will efficiently increase your metabolic rate, making it possible to lose weight.
It boosts your physical performance
Sugarcane juice contains important electrolytes, which are important in maintaining your body well hydrated at all times. By introducing the important electrolytes, for example, with the daily use of sugarcane juice, you can hydrate your body and improve your physical performance, which is exactly what a study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine has demonstrated with the use of sugarcane juice. In this study, 15 cycling athletes were given sugarcane juice, which was shown to be just as effective as sports drinks in hydrating the body (14).
When is the right time to drink sugarcane juice?
You are probably wondering when is the right time to have your sugarcane juice for the day. Is it before or right after your workout? Is there even a right time to drink sugarcane juice, or are you supposed to be drinking it whenever?
If you are drinking it for weight loss, the ideal time would be after your workout so that your body can use the sugar from it to restore your energy levels. Instead of feeling drained, you will feel full of energy and ready to move to the next thing on your to-do list. Besides, you will also be able to use the electrolytes to compensate for the ones that your body has lost during your workout. Similar to how you would consume a sports drink to get the most out of its beneficial effects after you have finished your workout, the same rule applies to drink sugarcane juice (15).
And those of you who are interested in drinking sugarcane juice just for the benefits of it, we recommend drinking it in the morning. That way, you will have enough time to burn off the carbs that you have just introduced to your body, feeling energized, and ready to seize the day.
For whatever the reason may be that you have decided to introduce sugarcane juice to your daily diet, do limit your daily intake to no more than one cup per day.
How to make sugarcane juice at home
There are different recipes that you can try until you find your favorite one. Until then, we hope that you will like this simple recipe to produce sugarcane juice at home.
- The ingredients that you will need are:
- 1 ripe sugarcane;
- 1 tablespoon chopped ginger;
- 1 tablespoon of lime or lemon juice;
- A pinch of black salt.
Peel off and then cut the sugarcane into small pieces. Put the sugarcane, chopped ginger, and lime/lemon juice to a blender. Blend everything well together. Use a strainer to strain the sugarcane juice. Add a pinch of black salt and some ice cubes and enjoy your drink!
If you want to up your weight loss game, then you better explore some more traditional weight loss methods like the one which involves regular use of sugarcane juice. This traditional and refreshing juice has been used for many medicinal purposes, as well as for the production of rum and other alcoholic beverages, but what many people may not know is that sugarcane juice can also be used to promote weight loss. By raising your energy levels, boosting your metabolism, and healing your gut, sugarcane juice makes weight loss seem easier than ever.