Schokolade & Gesundheit

Cane sugar, cane sugar, granulated sugar and sugar alternatives: we explain the differences

Rohrzucker, Rohrrohrzucker, Kristallzucker und Zuckeralternativen: Wir erklären die Unterschiede
Ever since we started making our Cool Beans, the topic of sugar has been omnipresent. What are the differences between the different types of sugar? Is cane sugar healthier than other varieties? And how does it change chemically during the manufacturing process? What sugar alternatives are there and are they healthy? If you ask yourself similar questions, we want to make it easier for you to find answers and have answered some important questions here.

What actually is sugar?

Sugar is not just sugar. Or rather: there is not only one sugar. That's why the answer to the question "What actually is sugar" is not that easy. In addition to the well-known fruit sugar (fructose), there is also milk sugar (lactose), grape sugar (glucose) and granulated sugar (or colloquially: table sugar, i.e. sucrose). While the types of sugar are similar in their basic components - they all contain hydrogen, carbon and oxygen - the main difference between them is their molecular structure.

Cane sugar, cane sugar and granulated sugar. Where's the difference?

What is the difference between (crystal) sugar and cane sugar?

From a purely chemical point of view, there is no difference between cane sugar and granulated sugar. They contain the same amount of calories and nutrients. But while a large part of the sugar worldwide consists of sugar cane - i.e. cane sugar - the crystal or table sugar consists of local sugar beet. By the way, if you feel the same way: cane sugar is not to be confused with raw cane sugar - the latter is also called "raw" because it is unrefined. That means nothing more than that it has been cleaned less than white table sugar. That is why it is also considered to be more environmentally friendly, because it was processed less. From an environmental point of view, the best of all is whole cane sugar. This consists of filtered, boiled sugar cane syrup and is the least processed form of cane sugar.
For many, the question is certainly still exciting: Can you replace granulated sugar with cane sugar? The answer to that is yes, and without any problems in the ratio 1:1. However, if you use cane sugar instead of granulated sugar when baking, it is important to note that the dough should then be stirred or kneaded longer. Because the crystals of cane sugar are slightly larger and therefore need longer to dissolve in the dough.

What is refined or unrefined sugar?

Is cane sugar and brown sugar the same?

In short: yes. As mentioned above, the brownish color is due to the manufacturing method. This is primarily because the sugar is less purified or refined. The white "color" actually only occurs during the last washes. Incidentally, brown sugar or cane sugar contains a little more minerals than ordinary white table sugar.

Is cane sugar healthier?

Not really. Brown sugar or cane sugar does contain a little more minerals - especially potassium - than ordinary white table sugar. However, these amounts are so small that they do not have an essentially different effect on the nutrient supply. The carbohydrate and calorie content of the different types of sugar are also (almost) identical. And for dental health, too, it (unfortunately) makes no difference whether you eat (raw) cane sugar or household sugar.

How healthy are sugar alternatives?

In addition to granulated, cane, raw cane and whole raw sugar, there are numerous other sweeteners that are often reputed to be healthier than regular sugar. With the large number of sweeteners, the question is exciting: What is the healthiest sugar substitute? Or rather: Are there any healthy sugar substitutes at all?

Honey and Agave Syrup, Healthy Alternatives?

Honey is arguably the most well-known alternative sweetener that people have been using to sweeten food for thousands of years. In addition to the natural sweetness, honey also contains a number of nutrients such as minerals, enzymes, amino acids and vitamins. That is why the golden juice is considered by many to be a healthy sugar alternative. Unfortunately, we have to clear up this misconception at this point. The nutrient content in honey is so low that you would have to eat enormous amounts to feel a positive effect. However, this would then be more than offset by the associated high sugar content.
Another "healthy" sugar alternative that is particularly popular with vegans is agave syrup. It is true that agave syrup also contains healthy ingredients: minerals, trace elements and secondary plant substances. However, agave syrup has a very high fructose, i.e. fruit sugar, content, which many people do not tolerate well. And the same applies here, similar to honey: it is not possible to benefit from the nutrients with a normal dosage. Another downside to agave nectar is its poor environmental record. The liquid sweetener has to be transported to Germany from afar and therefore has an enormous carbon footprint.
Honey, on the other hand, is relatively easy to buy from local beekeepers, at least in Germany. On the one hand, this can support a traditional, dying industry, and on the other hand, the climate can be relieved through regional consumption.
The answer to the classic question, "which is healthier, honey or agave nectar?" but is rather disappointing. Both sweeteners are not healthy. Agave syrup is a bit unhealthier than honey for some people due to its high fructose content.

Is honey healthy?

And maple syrup?

Then there is maple syrup, the popular sweetener from Canada. Is maple syrup a good sugar substitute because it is healthy?
First things first: Maple syrup is boiled maple sap that has been previously tapped from maple trees, mostly on Canadian or Chinese plantations. The syrup is popular mainly because of its special taste. Maple syrup also has fewer calories than normal sugar because of its high water content. But at the same time, it's also less sweet. But if you want the same sweetness as with sugar, you will have to use more syrup and the positive effect of the saved calories will be lost. Just like agave syrup, maple syrup also has a high fructose content and is therefore not very digestible for some people. Unfortunately, maple syrup is not a healthy alternative either.
The long transport routes of the popular syrup are anything but climate-friendly, while sugar and honey are also available locally produced.

Sugar Substitutes and Sweeteners: Which is Better, Erythritol, Stevia or Xylitol?

Sugar substitutes and their promises of low calories and no blood sugar impact sound enticingly good. The most popular sugar substitutes include erythritol, stevia and xylitol. But how healthy are they really?
Let's start with two well-known sugar substitutes. On the one hand there is erythritol, which is obtained through the fermentation of glucose. On the other hand xylitol, colloquially also "birch sugar", which is produced industrially and with high energy consumption from various raw materials such as corn or wood. The term "birch sugar" leads to the well-intentioned fallacy that it is a natural, herbal product. However, the name only comes from the fact that a possible component of its basic material Xylan can be birch wood.
Products from this sugar substitute group are low in calories, blood sugar and insulin level friendly and do not cause tooth decay. But: Consuming 20 to 30 g per day can lead to diarrhea and flatulence. For many, significantly smaller amounts are sufficient. Healthy is definitely different.

"Wonder Drug" Stevia?

Then there's stevia, which has long been considered the new miracle sweetener. It is one of the so-called artificial sweeteners. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than table sugar, has no calories, has little effect on blood sugar levels and also does not cause tooth decay. The sweetener is obtained from the tropical plant of the same name, but it is definitely not a natural product. Because this raw material has to go through an intensive chemical process in order to transform itself into the popular sweetener.
And: Stevia has a taste of its own that takes some getting used to and is therefore often combined with conventional sugar, which is not the point. Animal studies have also shown evidence that sweeteners such as stevia negatively affect gut flora, glucose-insulin metabolism, and brain activity. The data situation for humans is still insufficient. What is certain, however, is that from an evolutionary point of view, the organism is not used to absorbing these substances found by chance in the laboratory.
So which of the sugar substitutes listed here is healthier is hard to say. All three have health benefits, as well as downsides and long-term effects that have not yet been adequately researched.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, there are no really healthy sugar alternatives

As you have surely filtered out from the previous paragraphs. None of the products really live up to the promise of "healthy" sugar alternatives. So the healthiest thing is simply not to eat any or very little sugar, no matter what form it is. In fact, there are even chocolates that are completely sugar-free. You can find some delicious, completely sugar-free chocolates with 100% cocoa content here in our shop .
Even if popular sweeteners like honey, agave syrup or maple syrup are not necessarily healthier than conventional sugar, they are still delicious! If you would like to try chocolate with alternative sweeteners, our chocolate box with sugar alternatives is definitely the right choice!
To end on a somewhat forgiving note, sugar is unhealthy, yes. But as long as you eat it in moderation, for example in the form of fine, sustainable and fair trade chocolate, your health will certainly not suffer. In addition, chocolate is known to make you happy and thus has a positive influence on your mental health. :)

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