A glass of chilled sugarcane juice not only quenches our thirst but also invigorates us. It is called by many different names depending on the local language, but the humble sugarcane brings peace to every parched soul. Loaded with abundant carbohydrates, proteins, minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, and potassium, and vitamins A, B-complex, and C, sugarcane juice also keeps you in good shape.
Belonging to the grass family Poaceae, sugarcane is easy to grow anywhere and is available at very cheap prices. Even though it is native to Papua New Guinea, it has become a part of the crop production of more than half of the world, including Asia and America.
Sugarcane can be chewed when peeled to extract the juice. Also, the juice can be used for sweetening. In hot summer days, it is a cooling drink. A little lime juice may be mixed in the juice to improve its flavour. You can also drink a glass of sugarcane juice topped with mint, ginger, and black rock salt.
Sugarcane is one of the main crops used in the production of sugar. Over 70% of the world's sugar is made from sugarcane and the remaining less than 30% comes from the sugar beet crop.
The sugarcane plant produces a number of stalks that reach 2 to 7 metres (six to twenty-four feet, sometimes thirty feet) high and bear long sword-shaped leaves. The stalks are composed of many segments, and at each joint there is a bud. When the cane becomes mature, a growing point at the upper end of the stalk develops into a slender arrow bearing a tassel of tiny flowers.
Benefits of Sugarcane Juice
If you search for sugarcane juice benefits, you'll find that it has been attributed as a natural remedy to more than a score of problems.
The many benefits include:
1. Aids kidneys’ healthy functioning
Because sugarcane juice is a diuretic, it helps treat urinary tract infections, kidney stones and ensure proper functioning of the kidneys.
2. Strengthens the liver and prevents jaundice
Sugarcane juice helps strengthen your liver and is thus suggested as a remedy for jaundice. Jaundice is a condition where you find yellow pigmentation of the skin and membrane due to elevated levels of a substance known as bilirubin in the bodily fluids and is triggered by poor functioning liver. What sugarcane juice does is replenish your body with proteins lost and nutrients that it needs to recover quickly.
3. An energy drink
The reason Sugarcane is a popular drink during summers is because it gives an instant kick of energy and quenches the thirst. Sugarcane juice is good source of glucose which as we know, helps to re-hydrate the human body and gives it a boost of energy. So instead of your artificial energy drink, the next time you feel fatigued or dehydrated, consider drinking a glass of cane juice.
4. Aids digestion, thereby preventing constipation and stomach burns
Sugarcane juice exhibits laxative properties thereby improving bowel movement and relieving constipation. Sugarcane juice also has alkaline properties, which means it's good for treating acidity and stomach burns.
5. Good for diabetes
Even though cane juice tastes very sweet and has high sugar content, it is good for diabetic patients. It contains natural sugar which has low glycemic index (GI) that prevents steep rise in blood glucose levels in diabetics, so it comes highly recommended for diabetics. A study showed that drinking sugarcane juice did not alter the blood glucose levels of diabetics drastically but you should check with your doctor before you start to drink some of this yourself.
6. Facilitates development of bones and teeth
Hand a sugarcane stick or a glass of tasty sugarcane juice to every growing child, and you can gladly forget teeth-related and bone-related problems.
Sugarcane is an extremely rich source of calcium that helps build your skeletal strength, including bones and teeth. This makes it one of the best ingredients that contribute to a child’s growth.
7. Prevents tooth decay and bad breath
Sugarcane juice is extremely rich in minerals, which helps prevent tooth decay and bad breath.
8. Prevents cancer
Sugarcane juice is alkaline in nature because of the high concentration of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese, which helps prevent diseases like cancer that cannot survive in an alkaline environment. Thus it helps in fighting various types of cancer such as prostate and breast cancer.
9. Prevents heart diseases
It also prevents heart diseases and stroke as it helps decrease the levels of unhealthy cholesterol and triglycerides.
10. Eliminates toxins from our body
Having sugarcane juice on a regular basis helps in cleansing the body of harmful toxins and other foreign elements. It also boosts our metabolism. This detoxification process gradually leads to weight loss.
11. Aids weight loss
As sugarcane juice reduces the bad cholesterol levels in the body and has natural sugars, it helps in reducing weight. It is high in soluble fibre which aids in shedding weight.
12. Improves skin health
When it comes to healthy skin, Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) which are part of the natural constituents of sugarcane juice are supposed to have a lot of benefits. They fight acne, reduce blemishes, prevent ageing and help in keeping the skin hydrated. Just apply sugarcane juice to your skin and let it dry or add it to your favourite face mask and scrub, and your skin will look radiant and clean.
13. A good immune booster
The antioxidants in sugarcane juice help to fight infections and boost the immune system of the body.
14. Improves the health and condition of your nails
Deficiency of nutrients in the body can easily be noticed by looking at the health and condition of your nails. If you have brittle discoloured nails that have white spots on them, then it’s time to add sugarcane juice to your diet. It contains everything to give you those strong shiny nails that would look pretty even without a nail polish.
15. Combats febrile disorders
Sugarcane juice has been discovered to be good for those people who are struggling with febrile disorders. Febrile disorders result in fevers, which can lead to seizures and loss of proteins in the body. It is quite common in infants and children. Sugarcane juice helps in compensating the lost protein and helps in recovery.
16. Increases chances of conception in women
Sugarcane juice has been found to be a great addition to a pregnant woman’s diet. It facilitates quicker conceptions and safer pregnancy.
This amazing juice contains trace amounts of folic acid or vitamin B9 that is known to protect from neural birth defects like Spina bifida. Also, research has discovered that sugarcane juice minimizes ovulating problems in women, thereby increasing chances of conception.
17. Treats sore throat
If you feel a sudden itching or irritation in your throat, drink a glass of sugarcane juice with a dash of lime and black salt to soothe it.
Vitamin C is found abundantly in sugarcane juice and is the main reason that makes it a good remedy for a sore throat. Sugarcane juice is also a rich source of antioxidants that ward off any viral or bacterial infections.
18. Heals wounds
Other than boosting your immunity, sugarcane juice also helps in speeding the recovery of wounds.
Sugarcane juice contains sucrose that is naturally capable of healing any kind of wound in a small span of time. You can also dab some sugarcane juice over the wound for better results.
19. Strengthens body organs
The regular consumption of sugarcane juice assists in making our important organs stronger so that they can work well and in sync with other organs.
Since sugarcane juice is full of essential sugars, it helps in strengthening our organs like the sensory organs, reproductive organs, and the brain.
20. Prevents DNA damage
Sugarcane juice can protect you from radiation-induced DNA damage that can affect your brain.
It is full of antioxidants that prevent the oxidative degradation of cellular fats and lipids and control DNA damage.
21. Beneficial in treating UTI
The wonderful sugarcane juice helps maintain kidney health and prevents the problems associated with Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). To use it to treat UTI, take a glass of sugarcane juice mixed with lemon and coconut water twice a day.
Sugarcane juice is known to increase the protein levels in the body. This prevents many kidney-related diseases like stones, UTI, STDs, and prostatitis. It also relieves the burning sensation that accompanies these disorders.
22. Increases muscle power
Having sugarcane juice twice a day is known to increase your muscle power by providing much-needed glucose to the body.
While the advantages of sugarcane juice are many, it is essential to ensure that it is extracted in a hygienic manner. It’s also important to use and consume the juice as soon as it is extracted because it tends to get oxidized within 15 minutes.
Even though sugarcane juice doesn’t have any major risk factors, it generally depends on the conditions it is prepared in.
Here are a few things you need to be aware of:
Drinking a glass of sugarcane juice at a roadside stall might seem to be the easiest option. However, if it is prepared in unhygienic conditions, it might lead to Chagas disease or diarrhoea. This is because sugarcane juice is considered to be the best breeding ground for microorganisms.
Never drink sugarcane juice that has been outside the fridge for more than 15 minutes as it may have adverse effects on your stomach and intestines.
Make sure that the stall you are planning to buy the drink from is not using too much oil on its crushing machines as that oil can cause harm to your body.
Do not take more than two glasses of sugarcane juice daily (two only when you have jaundice) as anything in excess can harm your body.
How To Store Sugarcane
When you are purchasing large stalks, it is best to cut them into smaller pieces so that you can refrigerate them. Make sure you rinse the stalks thoroughly and wait till they are completely dry before keeping them in the refrigerator. Also, wrap each cut end of the stalks with a plastic wrap and securely fix it with an elastic band. This will prevent moisture loss from the stalks and keep them juicy fresh. If proper care is taken, they will be good to go for two weeks.
Storing the juice for more than a few hours in the fridge is also not advised.
Sugarcane is a sub-tropical and tropical crop that prefers lots of sun and lots of water, provided that its roots are not waterlogged.
Sugarcane is propagated primarily by the planting of cuttings. The sections of the stalk of immature cane used for planting are known as seed cane, or cane sets, and have two or more buds (eyes), usually three.
It typically takes about 12 months to reach maturity although the time varies widely around the world from as short as six months to 24 months in some places, depending on the climate. Where it differs from many crops is that it re-grows from the roots so the plant lasts many cycles before it is worn out.
Harvesting Sugarcane is harvested by chopping down the stems but leaving the roots so that it re-grows in time for the next crop. Harvest times tend to be during the dry season.
Interesting Sugarcane Facts
Sugarcane has no fats. It is in fact a 100% natural drink.
It is a grass plant of the genus saccharum and has 36 varieties.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus took sugarcane to the Carribean to plant it there and thus, the cultivation of sugarcane spread across the world.
A mature sugarcane plant can grow up to 30 feet tall.
Sugarcane juice is a mix of sucrose, fructose, and many other glucose varieties. Hence, it is sweet to taste.
An 8-ounce serving of sugarcane juice without any additives carries a total of 180 calories, which is quite low.
Raw sugarcane juice contains a total of 13 grams of dietary fibre per serving, which is essential in carrying out a lot of body functions.
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