The juice of the sugarcane stem is a health drink for a variety of reasons. From being a wholesome thirst quencher to mitigating the spread of cancerous cells, this juice has numerous healing properties that both Ayurveda and conventional medicine have been tapping into.
If you’ve ever spent a hot day outdoors and been handed a glass of freshly pressed sugarcane juice, you know what heaven feels like! Rarely is something so delicious and good for you at the same time, but that’s exactly what a glass of sugarcane juice serves up! Here’s why you shouldn’t miss out on the pleasures of this drink.
The long fibrous stalk of the sugarcane plant is rich in sucrose, a simple form of sugar. Sugarcane is integral to making many food items like molasses and jaggery, apart from being consumed as a juice, usually freshly pressed in small hand mills. Being sucrose-rich, it is easily absorbed by the body and can give an instant boost when you’re low on sugar or if you’re dehydrated.
Sugarcane juice is a go-to beverage in the tropics and sub-tropics. But it can be more than just a refreshing drink – thanks to its significant antioxidant properties. The phenols and flavanols allow sugarcane juice to scavenge free radicals and prevent lipid peroxidation. Studies show that these properties make it efficient in fighting jaundice and liver disorders and protecting against DNA damaged by radiation.
Slowing Down Cancer
In the fight against cancer, anything that acts as an antiproliferative agent –working to prevent or retard the spread of cells, especially malignant ones, into surrounding tissues – is a useful ally. Turns out sugarcane juice has a flavonoid (tricin-7-O-β-(6″-methoxycinnamic)-glucoside) that can help do just that. Its antioxidant strength helps it to slow down the spread of malignant cells and fight several cancer cell lines.
Juice for Anemia
Sugarcane juice is also full of iron-rich sugar. This opens up the possibility of using it as a sweet substitute that can also raise iron levels, especially among children. Iron deficiency anemia is the most widespread nutritional problem in the world, with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stats showing that more than 750 million of the 2 billion who are impacted are children. Studies across tropical countries with plenty of access to sugarcane juice, like Brazil and India, have shown that diet fortification using sugarcane juice as a sweetener brings about statistically significant improvements in hemoglobin levels in the kids. This can be a practical and low-cost solution in the global fight against anemia.3
Sports Drink Substitute
Any athlete knows the worth of a drink that can quickly raise sugar levels and replenish lost energy. Drinking plenty of fluids during rigorous training or exercise can help improve performance and delay the onset of fatigue. This means the body needs plenty of carbohydrate (CHO) as fuel for the working muscle. Sugarcane juice is rich in CHOs and electrolytes such as such as magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and calcium, making it a natural and beneficial alternative to a commercial sports drink. In fact, studies show that sugarcane juice is a better rehydration drink than plain water and sports drinks as it enhances muscle glycogen resynthesis after a rigorous workout.
Sweet Tooth Fix
Your pearly whites don’t have to shy away from a good swig of sugarcane juice. Contrary to popular belief, all sugars don’t automatically cause dental cavities. Sucrose sugars figure lowest in the list of sugary villains. In fact, studies in Columbia show that significant consumption of crystallized sugarcane juice helped to lower the incidence of dental caries.
And there’s more on the sugar benefits! Because of its sucrose sugar component, sugarcane juice has a low glycemic index, making it relatively safer for diabetics also.
Traditional medicinal systems like Ayurveda recognize the varied properties and benefits of sugarcane juice and uses it in formulations such as lehyam, asava, and arishta. Apart from leaning on its richness in carbohydrates and iron to build energy and fight anemia, Ayurvedic treatments use sugarcane juice for ailments as diverse as ulcers, fevers, kidney functioning, eye disorders, and weight gain as well. It is also considered an effective diuretic and laxative.