Evaporated cane juice refers to the crystals left behind when sugar cane juice evaporates. It retains its natural tan color and the nutrients lost during processing, making it a healthier natural sweetener than processed white sugar. However, some health food advocates state that it is virtually identical to sugar.
The debate about the health benefits of evaporated cane juice stems from confusion over the term. Evaporated cane juice is higher in vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium, but the kind described in ingredients lists is subjected to a very similar process to refined white sugar. Health food advocates have accused food companies of attempting to capitalize on the supposedly healthier reputation of cane sugar while distancing themselves from the stigma of sugar. The paler the color of evaporated cane juice crystals, the likelier it has undergone extensive processing.
Natural sugar cane is loaded with magnesium, fiber, calcium, iron, phytonutrients and various vitamins. Some of the phytonutrients, called polyphenols, have antioxidant properties. Natural sugar cane possesses a unique combination of polyphenols that combine with the vitamins and minerals to slow the absorption of sugars, preventing blood sugar spikes. Raw natural sugars are a balance of fructose, sucrose and glucose, but the refined version is almost exclusively sucrose, which raises the blood sugar.