It seems like we are always striving to find a substitute for sugar that is better for us. We don’t want to give up the sweetness in our food, but we don’t want the negatives that come with eating a lot of sugar.
Over the years there have been many alternatives to sugar that have popped up in the media as better than sugar – we will be looking at one of those other options today.
Let’s discuss what Sucanat actually is, how much of it you use to substitute it in place of sugar, and whether or not it really is better for you than sugar.
What is Sucanat?
First of all, what does Sucanat actually consist of?
Sucanat, which is a contraction of “Sucre de canne naturel,” is actually a brand name for a specific variety of whole cane sugar. It was introduced by Pronatec in 1978. The main difference between Sucanat and processed white and brown cane sugar is simply that Sucanat retains the molasses content that it has. Basically, it is pure dried juice from sugar cane. The French phrase that was shortened to make the name essentially means “the most natural cane sugar.”
Sucanat is produced with minimal processing, as well as products like Panela, which is from Latin America, Muscovado from the Philippines, Jaggery from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and Rapadura from Brazil. All of these different products keep a much larger amount of molasses that would normally be removed in the sugar refining process. This gives them a much more intense, stronger flavor.
The process for making Sucanat is much simpler than what it is for any seriously refined sugars. For this sugar, the cane is harvested, just like it would be with any other kind of sugar. Then, the juice is extracted by being run through a specific machine and squeezed from the sugar cane. After that, the juice is strained to ensure that it is purely liquid.
Once those initial steps are taken care of, the juice is boiled and paddled. Then it is dried and crumbled until it becomes the sugary substance we know now as Sucanat.
Unlike your average brown sugar, the processing of the product does not take out much of the molasses, vitamins, or minerals that are in the natural product.
The biggest plus side that those who eat it notice is that it tastes so good. It is incredibly rich in flavor, and you use a lot less of it when you substitute it for sugar because of that. It has a wonderfully deep, molasses flavor that you do not see a lot in other sugar options.
The name and product of Sucanat is now a registered trademark of the company Ragus Holdings, Incorporated.
Is Sucanat Better for You Than Sugar?
Now we have come to the big question – is Sucanat better for you than refined sugar?
The truth is, it really is not any better for you than any other type of sugar, despite its minimal processing.
This may seem rather odd, given that it doesn’t have to go through the rigorous, intense chemical processing that regular sugar does. Especially because it has so much more molasses in it, which is the most nutritious part of sugar cane. It contains many vitamins and minerals that you wouldn’t see in refined sugar, like trace amounts of potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.
However, to actually get those added vitamins and minerals, you would have to eat quite a large quantity of Sucanat. You would have to consume enough that it would be much more unhealthy for you than just having your normal amount of refined sugar. The American Heart Association also states that consuming too much additional sugar can lead to obesity. Diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic heart and health conditions.
As far as comparing it to other sugars is concerned, it is no better or no worse. The amount of calories you consume with either one is about the same.
However, if you do simply like that rich, molasses taste, and you can afford to spend a little more money on buying Sucanat upfront, it is definitely still a delicious option to replace refined sugars – even if this option is not a much healthier one.
How to Substitute Different Sugar Types With Sucanat
Even though Sucanat is a more flavorful sugar substitute, you will have to use slightly more of it in your recipes for the same amount of sweetness in the finished product. We will be reviewing some of the conversions between refined white or brown sugar, Sucanat, and coconut sugar.
For one cup of granulated sugar or brown sugar, you will need about one and a fourth cup of Sucanat, and one and a half cups of coconut sugar.
Three tablespoons of Sucanat equal out to two tablespoons for granulated sugar, and coconut sugar will also require about the same as Sucanat.
For two cups of granulated/brown sugar, you will need two and a half cups plus an additional quarter cup of Sucanat. The same goes for coconut sugar in this case.
If you are in need of a very specific measurement, there is a great chart that offers simple conversions for most measurements.
The Science Behind Sucanat Vs. Refined Sugar
Even though the sugar molecules of fructose, sucrose, and glucose all react exactly the same way when they are combined with water, there are still huge differences between all of them. When it comes to being attracted to water, which is also referred to as hygroscopicity, fructose is the most hygroscopic, and glucose is the least. Sucrose is right in between the two.
Where flavor is concerned, fructose is the sweetest of the three – it is 1.5 times sweeter than sucrose, and glucose is 75 percent less sweet than that.
Granulated sugar is completely made up of sucrose, while Sucanat is made up of a majority of sucrose with some fructose and glucose mixed in as well.
Sucanat Vs. Refined Sugar in Cooking
If you are using unground Sucanat in your cooking, it is going to have a very tough and granular texture that will most likely not dissolve quickly when you use it in doughs and batters. You may find it to be a good idea to grind it up in a spice grinder before actually using it while baking. This helps makes sure that it has been mixed up well into batters and doughs, and it will get rid of any blemishes or spots that may have occurred if you had left the Sucanat unground.
Sucanat will also add a really nice and light molasses flavor to any baked good you use it in. Because it is stronger and more flavorful than white sugar, it can take some getting used to when you first begin to substitute it. Some people have compared it to toffee or even caramel, which can definitely spice up your old cookie recipes.
What Can I Use if I Want a Healthier Substitute for Sugar?
If you really want something that is a healthier substitute for sugar, you do still have a few different options.
1. Stevia is a fantastic option to completely replace white sugar with. It is much better for you, especially if you are overweight, have any blood sugar issues, or diabetes.
It is a no-calorie, all-natural sweetener that is made from the leaf of a flowering plant. To make sure you are getting the best form of Stevia, you should ideally get the full, green leaf version of it. You can also get a type that is ground up and partially extracted – that is very good as well.
2. Next on the list, we have raw honey as a substitute.
Honey is not only a sugar, but it is actually a food as well. It has a lot of beneficial aspects to it, including electrolytes and antioxidants, amino acids, and antimicrobial compounds. It really is truly one of the absolute best options for substituting sugar, but just make sure that you are getting actual raw honey when you go to purchase it.
3. Coconut sugar is also an excellent option to replace sugar.
This sugar is completely unrefined, non-GMO, and 100% vegan. You also do not have to convert the amounts of regular sugar you are using. One cup of it will equal one cup of coconut sugar.
Coconut juice has a lot of potassium, electrolytes, and other nutrients in it that makes it a wonderful choice for a substitute.
4. Another option is maple syrup.
If you choose a 100 percent pure and organic maple syrup, it can be an excellent substitute choice. This type of syrup actually has a higher antioxidant capacity than sugar, making it much better for you.
It is also one of the most delicious choices. Maple syrup is of course fantastic with breakfast foods, but will also bring a yummy, earthy flavor to your recipes.
We hope that this guide was helpful in assisting you as you choose your next sugar substitute. Sucanat is definitely a delicious choice that will give your food a great flavor, as long as you know that it won’t give you any additional health benefits.
What is your substitute of choice? If you use Sucanat, would you recommend it to others?