In the United States, sugar has become a dirty word. Most health experts and nutritionists have completely disavowed sugar for its complicity in spawning a myriad of chronic diseases. The average American consumes 82 grams of sugar per day—more than three times the recommended intake of 25 grams. To put these numbers in perspective, that’s 150-170 pounds of sugar per year. Experts say our excessive consumption of sugar is responsible for the proliferation of obesity, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, adrenal complications, and a host of other health conditions associated with chronic inflammation. So, if Gingerhill is one of the healthier Hawaii places to stay, why do we grow sugarcane?
It may come as a surprise to you that sugarcane juice, the sweet, refreshing liquid pressed from stalks of the sugarcane plant, can benefit your health in multiple ways. In fact, sugarcane juice may actually help to treat conditions like diabetes and obesity. Sugarcane juice in its pure, raw form contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber that promote vitality and wellness. It is only when sugar cane juice is dehydrated, stripped, and processed, that it becomes hazardous to human health. As one of the healthiest Hawaii places to stay, we are proud to serve our guests organic, fresh-pressed sugarcane juice for refreshing, nourishing energy.
About the Sugarcane Plant
Sugarcane, or saccharum officinarum, is a member of the grass family. Hailing from Papua New Guinea, sugarcane was introduced to the tropics in 1493 when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean. By the 1700’s, sugarcane cultivation had become the crux upon which the Caribbean economy depended. Massive plantations provided the vast majority of sugar consumed in Western Europe, and the need for plantation laborers was one of the driving forces of the Atlantic slave trade.
Though the Caribbean sugar economy began to dwindle with the death of the slave trade, sugarcane has since traversed the world over and is presently most popular in Brazil, India, Thailand, and other tropical climates. Sugarcane is primarily used to make sugar, as 70% of the world’s sugar derives from the sugarcane plant. However, it is also the source of other popular products, like molasses and rum. In Brazil, biofuel companies even use sugarcane in fuel production.
Sugarcane grows best in warm climates, ideally in soil that contains a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. Because sugarcane is well suited to the tropics, you are likely to find sugarcane at many Hawaii places to stay. Although the stalks of the sugar cane plant—the part of the plant that is pressed for juicing—average 10-24 feet in height, they can grow to be up to 30 feet tall. The plant reaches full maturity within 9 months to two years of planting, and it’s relatively simple to maintain.
Why Sugarcane Trumps Sugar
The demonization of sugar in America would lead most to assume that sugarcane juice is bad for you. At 180 calories and 30 grams of sugar per cup, sugarcane juice is indeed quite high in sugar. It may therefore be inappropriate for individuals suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. However, there are several differences between processed sugar and sugarcane juice that render the latter far superior to the former.
The majority of the sugar sold in the United States is actually made from beets, not sugarcane. However, even raw, organic sugar fails to match sugarcane juice’s nutritional profile. That’s because the processing of sugar significantly downgrades its nutritional value. Sugarcane juice contains a plethora of beneficial nutrients and is particularly high in calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese, which collectively bolster the health of our bones, blood, and muscles. The processing necessary for producing sugar leeches these nutrients, leaving only—you guessed it—sugar.
Some might contend that sugarcane juice is unhealthy because, despite its nutritional density, it contains a lot of sugar. However, the sugar in sugarcane juice does not affect the body in the same way that processed sugar does. At a glycemic index of 43, sugarcane juice has a low glycemic impact, whereas table sugar has a relatively high glycemic index of 63. In other words, sugarcane juice raises blood sugar more slowly than sugar, preventing the insulin spikes and crashes that cause mood swings and exhaustion. Stable insulin and blood sugar levels prevent fat storage and provide a steady stream of energy, allowing us to stay active and focused throughout the day.
Sugarcane Juice for Active Individuals
Sugarcane juice contains multiple types of sugar molecules, namely sucrose, fructose, and glucose. However, because it also contains fiber, the sugars in the juice digest slowly. Sugarcane juice is thus a great source of energy for athletes, who need a steady supply of sugars that the body can easily convert to energy. Additionally, sugarcane juice contains electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, hydrating the body and thus optimizing athletic performance. Bikers, distances runners, and other endurance athletes should therefore consider incorporating sugarcane juice into their fueling regimen. Competitors in the annual Ironman race in Kona will be happy to find sugarcane juice at Hawaii places to stay like Gingerhill.
Health Benefits of Sugarcane Juice
Sugarcane juice touts a wide array of astonishing health benefits. Most notably, sugarcane juice contains phenolic compounds and antioxidants that prevent oxidative stress. In reducing oxidative stress, sugarcane can help prevent diseases caused by chronic inflammation, such as arthritis, depression, chronic fatigue, and obesity. The antioxidants in sugarcane also help prevent viral and bacterial infections, protect cellular DNA, and prevent aging.
Sugarcane has three benefits that are particularly surprising: improved digestion, a clearer complexion, and kidney health. Most sugars are bad for digestion because they feed harmful bacteria and yeasts in our digestive tracts, leading not only to digestive complications like constipation, gas, and bloating, but also to more serious conditions like candida overgrowth and leaky gut. Sugarcane juice, on the other hand, contains fibers that help to clear the digestive tract of negative overgrowths. It also contains glycolic acid at concentrations capable of treating inflammatory skin conditions. The alpha hydroxy acids in sugarcane juice increase cell turnover, reducing acne and scarring, smoothing wrinkles, and treating inflections. Finally, sugarcane juice acts as a diuretic, clearing the kidneys and urinary tract of harmful bacteria that could lead to infection.
The benefits of sugarcane juice are seemingly endless. Other advantages of consuming sugarcane juice include: detoxification; elevated metabolic rate; intake of tryptophan and magnesium, compounds that reduce stress and promote sleep; inhibition of cancer cell proliferation, a result of sugarcane juice’s high flavonoid content; and improved alkalinity. Those looking for restorative Hawaii places to stay should therefore seek out a place that grows sugarcane–a place like Gingerhill.